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Saturday, April 4, 2015

READOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CALLS WITH MIDDLE EAST LEADERS

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE
April 03, 2015
Readout of the President’s Calls with King Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain, Amir Sabah al Sabah of Kuwait, Amir Tamim al Thani of Qatar, and Crown Prince Mohammed al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates

The President today spoke with King Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain, Amir Sabah al Sabah of Kuwait, Amir Tamim al Thani of Qatar, and Crown Prince Mohammed al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates. With each the President shared details of the political framework reached between the P5+1, the EU, and Iran on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program. He highlighted that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and the months ahead will be used to finalize the technical details for a lasting, comprehensive solution that verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. He also reiterated the United States’ enduring commitment to work with partners to address Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region. The President invited the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council to join him at Camp David this spring to further these consultations.

WEEKLY ADDRESS: REACHING A COMPREHENSIVE AND LONG-TERM DEAL ON IRAN



NASA VIDEO: NOCTILUCENT CLOUD SIGHTINGS

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF SENEGAL ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
On the Occasion of the Republic of Senegal's National Day
Press Statement
Washington, DC
April 3, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Senegal on the 55th anniversary of your independence on April 4.

As President John F. Kennedy said when your first President, Leopold Senghor, visited Washington, D.C., the United States and Senegal are “sisters under the skin.”

Our nations are united in the conviction that our core principles - democracy, respect for rule of law, and individual liberties - will guide us toward a future of peace and prosperity.

The United States applauds your ongoing role in promoting democracy, justice, and security throughout the region. Your support of Operation United Assistance was indispensable to the global Ebola crisis relief effort, which saved thousands of lives.

On this day of celebration, I wish all Senegalese a joyous anniversary. I look forward to building on our strong partnership in the years to come.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY, WEST WING WEEK

4 INDICTED FOR ROLES IN INTERNATIONAL COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY OPERATION HEADQUARTERED IN UGANDA

FROM:  U.S.  JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Four Charged in International Uganda-Based Cyber Counterfeiting Scheme

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has indicted four people in connection with an international counterfeit currency operation headquartered in the African nation of Uganda, announced U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The indictment, returned on April 1, 2015, charges Ryan Andrew Gustafson, 27, aka “Jack Farrel” aka “Willy Clock,” a U.S. citizen currently incarcerated in Kampala, Uganda, Zackary L. Ruiz, 18, aka “Mr. Mouse,” of Las Vegas, Nevada, Jeremy J. Miller, 30, aka “Sinner,” of Seattle, Washington and Michael Q. Lin, 20, aka “Mlin” aka “Mr. Casino,” of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with conspiracy and counterfeiting acts committed within and outside of the U.S. from December 2013 until December 2014.

“Today we announce the dismantling of an international cyber conspiracy in which Ugandan-made counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes were being advertised, bought and sold through online criminal forums then passed in coffee shops and corner stores in neighborhoods across our country,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton.  “Working cooperatively with law enforcement partners in the U.S. and abroad, we were able to quickly infiltrate and disrupt this counterfeit trafficking network and limit losses.”

“The early and aggressive application of traditional and cyber investigative expertise and the cooperation and assistance of numerous domestic and international law enforcement agencies in this case led to the quick and efficient identification of conspirators in a widespread cyber-based counterfeiting network,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric P. Zahren of the U.S. Secret Service Pittsburgh Field Office, “but as importantly, minimized financial losses in the U.S. and elsewhere, consistent with our charge to protect our currency, our commerce and, ultimately, our communities.”

According to the indictment, in late December 2013, Gustafson created his own dark web website called Community-X, which was dedicated to the manufacturing, selling, buying, distribution and passing of counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs), which he claimed to have manufactured.  The website contained forums where members discussed the counterfeit bills and shared tips on how best to pass, ship and distribute counterfeit FRNs.

In September 2014, Gustafson redesigned this website into two different sites, a Community-X HQ site, with controlled access and a Community-X Recruitment Center site, which was accessible to the public.  Gustafson, Ruiz and Miller were active members of both sites.  Lin was only a member of the Recruitment Site.

Gustafson and others allegedly sold these counterfeit FRNs to purchasers in the U.S.  From December 2013 through February 2014, an associate of Gustafson sent DHL packages containing these counterfeit FRNs to individuals in the U.S.  After February 2014, Gustafson had the counterfeit FRNs smuggled into the U.S. by hiding the counterfeit FRNs in glued together pages of fake charity pamphlets.

The indictment alleges that Ruiz, Miller and Lin had varied levels of roles and responsibilities as participants in the conspiracy.  In particular, the indictment alleges that Ruiz and others unpacked the counterfeit FRNs, that Ruiz, Miller and others treated the counterfeit FRNs to prepare them for passing and used the U.S. Postal Service to mail the treated FRNs to re-shippers and to purchasers and that Lin was a purchaser of the FRNs, who offered a guide on how to pass the counterfeit notes through casinos.

The indictment alleges more than $1.4 million in counterfeit FRNs have been seized and passed worldwide, both overseas and in the U.S. as part of this scheme.

Gustafson was charged by Ugandan authorities on Dec. 16, 2014, with conspiracy, possession of counterfeit, selling/dealing in counterfeit and unlawful possession of ammunition. He is presently on trial in Uganda on their charges.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, on the conspiracy count; a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, on the conspiracy to commit money laundering count; and a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of 250,000, or both, on each of the passing and receiving counterfeit money counts.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended numerous agencies and organizations for conducting the investigation leading to charges in this case, including the U.S. Secret Service in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, California, Seattle, Washington, Las Vegas, Nevada, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Charlotte, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, Baltimore, Maryland, Minnesota, Miami, Florida, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, Phoenix, Arizona, Rome, Italy, Pretoria, South Africa and the Criminal Investigative Division in Washington, D.C., the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Charlotte, the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Pittsburgh Division, Homeland Security Investigations in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance.

CDC WARNS OF SPREAD OF MULTIDRUG-RESISTANT INTESTINAL ILLNESS IN U.S.

FROM:  CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Multidrug-resistant Shigellosis Spreading in the United States
New infections emphasize the importance of using antibiotics wisely

International travelers are bringing a multidrug-resistant intestinal illness to the United States and spreading it to others who have not traveled, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Shigella sonnei bacteria resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin sickened 243 people in 32 states and Puerto Rico between May 2014 and February 2015. Research by the CDC found that the drug-resistant illness was being repeatedly introduced as ill travelers returned and was then infecting other people in a series of outbreaks around the country.

CDC and public health partners investigated several recent clusters of shigellosis in Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania and found that nearly 90 percent of the cases tested were resistant to ciprofloxacin (Cipro), the first choice to treat shigellosis among adults in the United States. Shigellosis can spread very quickly in groups like children in childcare facilities, homeless people and gay and bisexual men, as occurred in these outbreaks.

“These outbreaks show a troubling trend in Shigella infections in the United States,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Drug-resistant infections are harder to treat and because Shigella spreads so easily between people, the potential for more – and larger – outbreaks is a real concern.  We’re moving quickly to implement a national strategy to curb antibiotic resistance because we can’t take for granted that we’ll always have the drugs we need to fight common infections.”

In the United States, most Shigella is already resistant to the antibiotics ampicillin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. Globally, Shigella resistance to Cipro is increasing. Cipro is often prescribed to people who travel internationally, in case they develop diarrhea while out of the United States. More study is needed to determine what role, if any, the use of antibiotics during travel may have in increasing the risk of antibiotic-resistant diarrhea infections among returned travelers.

“The increase in drug-resistant Shigella makes it even more critical to prevent shigellosis from spreading,” said Anna Bowen, M.D., M.P.H., a medical officer in CDC’s Waterborne Diseases Prevention Branch and lead author of the study. “Washing your hands with soap and water is important for everyone. Also, international travelers can protect themselves by choosing hot foods and drinking only from sealed containers.”

VA FACT SHEET ON HERBICIDES LIKE AGENT ORANGE

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Facts About Herbicides
Herbicide-sprayed areas and unsprayed areas

Agent Orange is a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed from 1962 to 1971 during Operation Ranch Hand in the Vietnam War to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover.

More than 19 million gallons of various “rainbow” herbicide combinations were sprayed, but Agent Orange was the combination the U.S. military used most often. The name “Agent Orange” came from the orange identifying stripe used on the 55-gallon drums in which it was stored.

Heavy sprayed areas included forests near the demarcation zone, forests at the junction of the borders of Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam, and mangroves on the southernmost peninsula of Vietnam and along shipping channels southeast of Saigon.

The U.S. Department of Defense developed these tactical herbicides specifically to be used in “combat operations.” They were not commercial grade herbicides purchased from chemical companies and sent to Vietnam. Tactical herbicides also were used, tested, and stored in areas outside of Vietnam.

Learn how Veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during military service, including outside Vietnam.

Agent Orange active ingredients and characteristics

The two active ingredients in the Agent Orange herbicide combination were equal amounts of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), which contained traces of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).

The dioxin TCDD was an unwanted byproduct of herbicide production. Dioxins are pollutants that are released into the environment by burning waste, diesel exhaust, chemical manufacturing, and other processes. TCDD is the most toxic of the dioxins, and is classified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Agent Orange dries quickly after spraying and breaks down within hours to days when exposed to sunlight (if not bound chemically to a biological surface such as soil, leaves and grass) and is no longer harmful.


THE BRAIN FRONTIER

FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Exploring the unknown frontier of the brain

James L. Olds, head of NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Shelley Krasnow University Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at George Mason University describes why and how NSF-funded researchers are working to understand the healthy brain
April 2, 2015

To a large degree, your brain is what makes you... you. It controls your thinking, problem solving and voluntary behaviors. At the same time, your brain helps regulate critical aspects of your physiology, such as your heart rate and breathing.

And yet your brain--a nonstop multitasking marvel--runs on only about 20 watts of energy, the same wattage as an energy-saving light bulb.

Still, for the most part, the brain remains an unknown frontier. Neuroscientists don't yet fully understand how information is processed by the brain of a worm that has several hundred neurons, let alone by the brain of a human that has 80 billion to 100 billion neurons. The chain of events in the brain that generates a thought, behavior or physiological response remains mysterious.

Why the big mystery? The brain is the most complex known biological structure in the universe. When researchers do figure out how it works, they will accomplish perhaps the greatest scientific achievement in recorded human history.

The search for a theory

Neuroscientists all over the world are working to develop an overarching theory of how a healthy brain works. Similar to the way the Big Bang theory offers one possible explanation for the cosmos and helps guide research on the origins of the universe, a theory of healthy brain function would offer a possible explanation of how the brain and the entire nervous system work and would help guide neuroscience research.

A theory of healthy brain function may also help to explain how injuries and diseases disrupt brain function and thereby help researchers identify new directions for research on traumatic brain injuries and brain diseases.

More knowledge about healthy brain function may also help inspire the development of smart technologies that mimic some of the human brain's unparalleled capabilities. If supercomputers--which can each annually consume millions of dollars' worth of electricity as well as huge amounts of cooling water--could match the brain's energy efficiency and processing power, their massive energy consumption would plummet, and science and innovation would leap forward.

Neuroscientists have made some progress toward understanding the brain. They have identified brain regions that regulate particular functions, including speech and motor function, and they can recognize structural and functional changes that occur in the brain throughout an animal's life span.

More recently, neuroscientists have developed game-changing tools for visualizing and analyzing parts of the brain in unprecedented detail. These tools provide the first detailed glimpses of the brain and are thrusting neuroscience forward, much as the first powerful telescopes provided the deep glimpses into the universe and thrust astronomy forward many years ago.

BRAIN Power

Building on these and other recent innovations, President Barack Obama launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN Initiative) in April 2013. Federally funded in 2015 at $200 million, the initiative is a public-private research effort to revolutionize researchers' understanding of the brain.

A co-leader of the initiative, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is working to reveal how a healthy brain works. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, bionic limbs and laser eye surgery were all grounded in early NSF-funded fundamental research, and fundamental research on the healthy brain may lead to equally profound advances.

NSF will spend about $48.48 million on awards in 2015 supporting the BRAIN Initiative, part of approximately $106.44 million in awards we will provide for all "Understanding the Brain" research across a range of neuroscience and cognitive science topics. With that support, our research teams are tackling the mysteries of the brain from varied angles.

For example, NSF is funding collaborations among:

Computer scientists, cyberinfrastructure experts and biologists to create a cyberinfrastructure to store and manage the huge volumes of data--"Big Data”--generated by brain studies. (For some perspective, consider that if nanoscale images of one human brain were stored in a stack of 1 terabyte hard drives, the stack would reach to the moon, or beyond!)

Engineers, materials experts and physicists to develop new materials needed to invent new probes for monitoring and manipulating the brain.

Physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists to build models that can help reveal and predict the complex neural activities that drive thoughts and behavior.

Social and behavioral scientists and physicists to improve the resolution of functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to help explain how social and physical environments alter the brain.

Biologists, physicists, chemists and engineers to study the nervous systems of many species, from simple organisms to complex vertebrates.
In addition, NSF awarded $10.8 million in Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGERs) to 36 teams--most of which are collaborative and multidisciplinary in nature--to support the development of new technologies that will help answer a critical question: How do circuits of neurons generate behaviors and enable learning and perception?

An EAGER team from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine is improving a new kind of microscope to simultaneously view individual neurons firing in two or more different regions of a brain at the same time. This microscope will enable researchers to see in detail, for the first time, how different areas of the brain team up to process information.

Taking an entirely different tack, researchers at the new $25 million NSF-funded Center for Brains, Minds & Machines at MIT are investigating human intelligence and the potential for creating intelligent machines. As researchers learn how to build those machines, they will likely also advance humanity's understanding of human intelligence.

Big innovations from basic research

If history is any guide, these and other fundamental brain-research projects will have important applications. For example, researchers around the world are currently studying diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia with a powerful new tool called optogenetics.

Optogenetics, which was developed with partial funding from NSF, enables researchers to selectively turn on and off individual neurons in living animals by exposing them to light. The development of optogenetics was made possible, in part, by earlier NSF-funded research on light sensitivity in algae that was conducted purely out of curiosity about the survival strategies of algae and without any knowledge that it would eventually be pivotal to the seemingly far-flung field of brain research. (Optogenetics is explained in a short video, Biodiversity: A Boon for brain research.)

Viewers of the 2014 World Cup saw another important application of fundamental brain research: The first kick of the games was performed by a person with paraplegia wearing an exoskeleton. The development of this exoskeleton built upon NSF-funded research on how neurons are involved in motor learning--research that began nearly twenty years ago.

Across government and across the nation, hopes are high that additional, fundamental neuroscience research will lay the groundwork for continued advances that will help society take additional strides forward.

-- James L. Olds, National Science Foundation
-- Lily Whiteman,

Friday, April 3, 2015

STATE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT ON RECENT VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS IN SYRIA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Recent Violence Against Civilians in Syria
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Acting Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 3, 2015

The United States strongly condemns attacks this week against Syrian civilians, who continue to suffer from both the Asad regime and violent extremist groups. Fighting between regime forces and an alliance of Islamist-oriented forces, including the al-Qa’ida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, and airstrikes by the Asad regime on Idlib city reportedly killed more than 100 civilians, significantly damaged hospitals, and displaced an estimated 30,000 people. Activists reported that ISIL massacred over 40 people in Mabuja in Hama province – reportedly Ismailis and Alawites, including women and children. Regime bombings of the town killed additional inhabitants and inflicted further damage.

We also condemn and are deeply concerned by ISIL’s attacks this week against the besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus. Since advancing into Yarmouk on April 1, ISIL – with the support of al-Nusra Front – has violently clashed with other armed groups, putting the remaining 18,000 civilians in the area at severe risk. Yarmouk’s inhabitants have already suffered from the regime’s violence and have lived under siege for nearly two years, deprived of desperately needed essentials, including food and medical relief.

These tragic events illustrate the terrible toll the war has taken on Syrian civilians and reaffirm the need for a political solution to end the conflict and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. The United States reiterates that all forces must cease unlawful attacks on civilians and comply with international law. Those who are responsible for these and other atrocities against the civilian population must be held accountable.

LABOR SECRETARY PEREZ ISSUES STATEMENT ON MARCH EMPLOYMENT SITUATION REPORT

FROM:  U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Statement of US Labor Secretary Perez on March employment numbers

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement about the March 2015 Employment Situation report released today:

"The economy added 126,000 new jobs in March (129,000 in the private sector), extending the longest streak of private sector job growth on record to 61 consecutive months, with 12.1 million jobs created over that time. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent. Long-term unemployment fell to 1.6 percent, down 0.7 percentage points from a year ago. Average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents for all private-sector employees, contributing to a 2.1 percent increase in nominal hourly wages over the last 12 months.

"While March's numbers aren't as robust as we've seen over the last year, overall trends remain solid, and there is every reason to be optimistic about our economic trajectory going forward. We've made incredible strides since the depths of the Great Recession, but there's more work to do to make sure every person can benefit from this recovery. There's more to do to strengthen and grow our middle class.

"The Obama administration continues to make strong investments that will give people the in-demand skills required to succeed in 21st century jobs; by contrast, the Congressional majority's budget would mean 2.2 million fewer people in 2016 alone receiving job training and employment services. A new public-private initiative called TechHire is giving Americans pathways to well-paying IT jobs, which are currently available in the hundreds of thousands. And today, the president is announcing new steps to drive growth in clean energy and train 75,000 workers, including many veterans, for solar jobs.

"Wage growth remains the unfinished business of this recovery. While Wall Street employees are collectively taking home billions of dollars just in bonuses, minimum wage workers haven't had a raise since 2009. Even as many states and localities take action on this issue, we still need Congress to put partisanship aside and raise the federal wage floor.

"And to help working families, we also need to expand access to paid leave, so that no one has to lose a paycheck in order to take care of a sick child or spouse. This week we kicked off a nationwide tour — Lead on Leave: Empowering Working Families Across America — to highlight best practices from employers and state and local governments, raising awareness about the need nationwide for paid leave and other flexible workplace policies.

"These steps are essential to an agenda based on middle-class economics, where everyone has the chance to succeed. As we celebrate the progress of the last few years, we have to do more to ensure the rising tide lifts every boat. Working together, we can do more to expand opportunity and create an economy that works for everyone."

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S STATEMENT ON PASSOVER

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE
April 03, 2015
Statement from the President on Passover

Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in the State of Israel, and throughout the world.

Tonight, for the seventh year, I’ll hold a Seder in the White House, and we’ll join millions of Jewish families as we retell one of humanity’s great stories of liberation.  The Exodus was neither easy nor quick.  The Israelites’ journey to freedom required them to choose faith over fear and courage over complacency.  Above all, it required the works of an awesome God, who led them out of bondage with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

The story of the Exodus – the signs and wonders that appeared when hope seemed lost, the Jewish people’s abiding belief that they would one day reach the Promised Land –  has inspired countless generations over the years.  It inspired Jewish families to hold fast to their faith, even during times of terrible persecution.  It inspired young Civil Rights leaders as they marched across an Alabama bridge in search of their own Promised Land, half a century ago.

And it continues to inspire us today.  Tonight, my family will read the passage of the Haggadah that declares we must see ourselves as though we personally were liberated from Egypt.  The Exodus reminds us that progress has always come slow and the future has always been uncertain, but it also reminds there is always reason for hope.

Like the Israelites who Moses led out of slavery long ago, it is up to us to never lose faith in the better day that lies ahead.  In our own country, we can continue our march toward a more perfect union.  Around the world, we can seek to extend the miracles of freedom and peace, prosperity and security, to more of God’s creation.  And together, we can continue the hard but awesome work of tikkun olam, and do our part to repair the world.

From my family to yours, Chag Sameach.

PHILADELPHIA WOMAN ARRESTED FOR TRYING TO HELP ISIL

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Friday, April 3, 2015
Philadelphia Woman Arrested for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced that Keonna Thomas, also known as Fatayat Al Khilafah and YoungLioness, 30, of Philadelphia, was charged today by criminal complaint with knowingly attempting to provide material support and resources, including herself as personnel, to a designated foreign terrorist organization.  According to the complaint, Thomas attempted to travel overseas in order to join and fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

As alleged in the complaint, Thomas posted on Twitter the following statement: “If we truly knew the realities . . . we all would be rushing to join our brothers in the front lines pray ALLAH accept us as shuhada [martyrs].”  The complaint further alleges that Thomas applied for a U.S. passport and advised an associate that she had deactivated her Twitter “till i leave for sham [greater Syria]. . . .  don’t want to draw attention of the kuffar [non-believers].”  Thomas then allegedly engaged in electronic communications with an ISIL fighter in Syria, who asked Thomas if she wanted to be a part of a martyrdom operation.  Thomas responded by stating, “that would be amazing….a girl can only wish.”  Thomas also allegedly conducted online research into various indirect travel routes to Turkey, and allegedly purchased an electronic visa to Turkey.  The complaint alleges that Turkey is known to be the most common and most direct transit point for individuals traveling from locations in Europe who are seeking to enter Syria and join ISIL.   On or about March 26, 2015, Thomas allegedly purchased airline tickets to fly overseas on March 29, 2015.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years’ incarceration.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Philadelphia Police Department.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

A criminal complaint is an accusation.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

DOD REPORTS CONTINUING AIRSTRIKES AGAINST ISIL TERRORISTS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
U.S., Coalition Forces Continue Airstrikes Against ISIL

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 3, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack and bomber aircraft conducted six airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Kobani, four airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted six airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Rawah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL building.

-- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL excavators and an ISIL fighting position.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

WHITE HOUSE VIDEO: President Obama on the International Nuclear Framework with Iran

CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL AND NUCLEAR TRAINING FOR U.S. ARMY PARATROOPERS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 

U.S. Army paratroopers check their protective masks before entering the gas chamber to conduct chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 31, 2015. The Army paratroopers are assigned to 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. The brigade is the Army contingency response force in Europe, capable of projecting ready forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa and Central commands areas of responsibility within 18 hours. U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger

U.S. Army paratroopers enter the gas chamber during chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 31, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger.


INHERENT RESOLVE AIRSTRIKE NEWS RELEASE FOR APRIL 2, 2015

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Inherent Resolve Airstrikes Continue in Syria, Iraq
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 2, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Fighter and bomber aircraft conducted three airstrikes near Kobani in Syria, striking an ISIL large tactical unit and an ISIL tactical unit and destroying three ISIL fighting positions.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack and fighter aircraft conducted four airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Beiji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL building.
-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL mortar tube.
-- Near Sinjar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL building.
-- Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST AURORA SIGHTINGS

FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Springtime night lights: Finding the aurora
Aurorasaurus project allows aurora-viewers around the world to compare sightings

Dance of the spirits, it's known by the Cree, one of North America's largest groups of Native Americans.

The phenomenon, called the aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere and aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere, is indeed a dance of particles and magnetism between the sun and the Earth.

The sun continuously produces a solar wind of charged particles, or plasma. As that "breath" reaches Earth, it causes our planet's magnetic field to shapeshift from round to teardrop--with a long tail on the side farthest from the sun.

The teardrop-stretched field ultimately reconfigures into two parts, one controlled by Earth's magnetic field, the other by the solar wind.

The instability excites the solar-charged particles. They follow spiral paths along lines connecting Earth's north and south magnetic poles to its atmosphere.

"What happens next," says scientist Elizabeth MacDonald of the New Mexico Consortium in Los Alamos, "is one of nature's most spectacular sights: the aurora."

The light of the aurora is emitted when the charged particles collide with gases in Earth's upper atmosphere.

Glimpsing an aurora

How often the aurora is visible in an area, MacDonald says, depends upon a host of factors, including the intensity of the solar wind; the season--the aurora may be strongest around the spring and fall equinoxes; whether the sun is near the peak of its 11-year cycle; and how far someone is from what scientists call the auroral oval, the lights' ring-shaped display.

Knowing where and when an aurora is happening has been difficult to find out--until now. A new project called Aurorasaurus allows citizens around the world to track auroras and report on their progress.

Visitors to the Aurorasaurus website can see where an aurora is happening in real-time, let other Aurorasaurus visitors know of an aurora's existence, and receive "early warnings" when an aurora is likely to happen in their Earth-neighborhood.

Aurora-power

"Auroras are beautiful displays that have fascinated humans through the ages," says Therese Moretto Jorgensen, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Geosciences, which, along with NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources and Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, funds Aurorasaurus through NSF's INSPIRE program.

INSPIRE supports projects whose scientific advances lie outside the scope of a single program or discipline, lines of research that promise transformational advances, and prospective discoveries at the interfaces of scientific boundaries.

"Auroras are of major interest," says Moretto Jorgensen, "because of their effects on Earth. There's a close relationship between auroras and the magnetic variations that pose a threat to the power grid.

"A better understanding of when and where auroras happen will help us develop models that can forecast these potentially hazardous events."

Amassing new data

Scientists hope that by amassing data from thousands of aurora-viewers, they'll learn more about the solar storms that can disrupt or destroy Earth's communications networks and affect the planet's navigation, pipeline, electrical and transportation systems.

During one solar storm in 1989, transformers in New Jersey melted and wiped out power all the way to Quebec, leaving millions of people in the dark.

The largest such solar storm in history, the Carrington Event, zapped Earth in 1859. It was so large it lit up the skies with auroras from the poles to the tropics. Electrical currents from the storm caused fires in telegraph systems and knocked out communications.

St. Patrick's Day magic in the skies

Could it happen again? Yes, if St. Patrick's Day this year is any guide.

On March 17, 2015, researchers and the public were treated to once-a-decade views. As people waited for glimpses of leprechauns, they saw something even more magical, viewers say.

Earth experienced the biggest solar storm to date of this 11-year sun cycle, sparking auroras around the world.

The St. Patrick's Day auroras, many of which were indeed green, were a fortuitous combination of events. Two days earlier, there was an explosion on the sun. The explosion, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), unleashed a blast of gas bubbles that created a strong disturbance as it collided with Earth's magnetic field.

The CME's magnetic field was directed southward, opposite to the Earth's magnetic field, and the solar wind whipped by very fast, says MacDonald.

"The storm's conditions led to a perfect environment for aurora-hunting," she says. On a scale of G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme), the storm reached a G4, or "severe" level.

The storm's Kp index, a global solar storm index, registered in the 6-8 range (9 is the highest).

Rare aurora-viewing--all the way to the southern U.S.

The strong solar wind blew for more than 24 hours, creating auroras visible as far south as the central and southern United States--a very rare occurrence.

The solar storm's peak hit during the daytime over most of the United States and Europe, but the storm persisted into the night and offered Americans and Europeans a brilliant nighttime light show.

Aurorasaurus reports came in from unusual regions: the south of England, Germany and Poland. In the United States, people spotted auroras in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.

Data peak from Aurorasaurus users

Aurorasaurus participants logged more than 160 sightings during the St. Patrick's Day solar storm.

From midnight on March 17th through mid-day on March 18th, the number of registered users increased by 50 percent. Registering allows Aurorasaurus to communicate information in return, sending location-based sighting alerts.

"We combine reports to provide real-time alerts when auroras might be visible nearby," says MacDonald. "During this storm alone, we issued 361 such notifications.

"We're using Aurorasaurus data to improve auroral oval models, and to develop a better notification system using both satellite-based data and citizen science data."

Adds Moretto Jorgensen, "Auroras on a global scale are very difficult to capture using traditional scientific methods. Human observers linked through Aurorasaurus are a unique network for documenting them."

Whether on St. Patrick's Day or any other Earth-day, the aurora carries a message: take time to look up at one of the planet's most breathtaking sights.

Then look down, to be sure you can send photos of the event from your cell phone. Spirits dancing across the skies may have played havoc with its transmissions.

-- Cheryl Dybas, NSF
Investigators
Andrea Tapia
Michelle Hall
Elizabeth MacDonald

SWISS ASSET MANAGER PLEADS GUILTY IN CASE INVOLVING TAX EVASION

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Swiss Asset Manager Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Conspiring with U.S. Taxpayers to Evade Federal Income Taxes and File False Tax Returns
A Swiss citizen and former asset manager at a Swiss asset management firm pleaded guilty to conspiring with U.S. taxpayer-clients and others to help U.S. taxpayers hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and to evade U.S. taxes on the income earned in those accounts, the Justice Department announced.

Peter Amrein, 53, a Swiss citizen, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein of the Southern District of New York pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, to evade federal income taxes and to file false federal income tax returns.  Amrein faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison at his July 1 sentencing before Judge Stein.

“Peter Amrein’s guilty plea today is another example of individuals being held culpable, in addition to institutions, for their criminal violations of U.S. tax laws,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York.  “Regardless of the elaborate scheme you might employ, we will use all of our investigative powers to ensure that all citizens pay their fair share, and that those who assist them in evading our laws are also held responsible.”

According to the allegations in the superseding Information and the prior indictment, as well as statements made during the plea proceeding and other documents filed in federal court in Manhattan, New York:

Amrein worked as a client advisor at a Swiss bank (Swiss Bank No. 3) and, later, as an asset manager at a Swiss asset management firm (the Swiss Asset Management Firm).  In those roles, between 1998 and 2012, Amrein helped U.S. taxpayers evade taxes and hide millions of dollars in undeclared accounts at various Swiss banks, including Wegelin & Co., which was charged and pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York for its conduct in conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to evade taxes.  Amrein, among other things, worked with an attorney based in Zurich, to establish sham foundations, which were organized under the laws of non-U.S. countries such as Liechtenstein, so that the undeclared assets of certain of Amrein’s U.S. taxpayer-clients could be maintained in the names of these foreign foundations rather than in the clients’ own names.  Amrein did so in order to help his clients conceal their ownership of these undeclared accounts from the IRS.

In 2008, it became publicly known that UBS AG (UBS) was being investigated by U.S. law enforcement for helping U.S. taxpayers maintain undeclared accounts in Switzerland.  Because of the investigation of UBS, one of the Swiss banks where Amrein had opened undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayers (Swiss Bank No. 4) informed Amrein that it was going to close these undeclared accounts.  In order to assist his clients in continuing to maintain undeclared accounts, Amrein searched for other banks in Switzerland that, despite the public investigation of UBS, were still willing to open undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayers.  Amrein found such a bank (Swiss Bank No. 1).  Thereafter, Amrein opened undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayer-clients at Swiss Bank No. 1 in the name of sham foundations, and transferred the clients’ undeclared assets from Swiss Bank No. 4 to these accounts at Swiss Bank No. 1.  

For some of these clients, Amrein, with the assistance of others, helped send funds back to the United States and to other foreign jurisdictions in ways that were designed to ensure that U.S. authorities would not discover the existence of the clients’ undeclared accounts.  For instance, Amrein instructed a client advisor at Swiss Bank No. 1 (the Swiss Bank No. 1 Client Advisor) to empty one of the accounts by sending checks in amounts smaller than $9,900 to the beneficial owner of the account, i.e., the U.S. taxpayer.  On another occasion, Amrein instructed the Swiss Bank No. 1 Client Advisor to transfer the balance of one of the accounts, which was then valued at more than $2.4 million, to another account controlled by the U.S. taxpayer in Belize City, Belize.  Moreover, as late as 2011, Amrein continued to look for other Swiss banks that were still willing to open undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayers.  For example, in June 2011, Amrein met with a client advisor at a Swiss bank (Swiss Bank No. 2), to discuss opening undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayer-clients at Swiss Bank No. 2.        

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the IRS-Criminal Investigations.  He also thanked the Department of Justice’s Tax Division for their significant assistance in the investigation.

AG HOLDER RESTRICTS CERTAIN ASSET FORFEITURES

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Attorney General Restricts Use of Asset Forfeiture in Structuring Offenses
New Policy Limits Seizing Cash Deposited in a Way to Avoid Triggering Bank Reports to Most Serious Cases

As part of the Department of Justice’s comprehensive, ongoing review of the asset forfeiture program, Attorney General Eric Holder today issued a policy focusing the use of asset forfeiture authorities on the most serious illegal banking transactions, restricting civil or criminal forfeiture seizures for structuring until after a defendant has been criminally charged or has been found to have engaged in additional criminal activity, in most cases.

“With this new policy, the Department of Justice is taking action to ensure that we are allocating our resources to address the most serious offenses,” said Attorney General Holder.  “Appropriate use of asset forfeiture law allows the Justice Department to safeguard the integrity, security and stability of our nation’s financial system while protecting the civil liberties of all Americans.  And as we continue our comprehensive review of the Asset Forfeiture Program, we will stay focused on deterring criminal activity, assisting victims of wrongdoing and defending the rights of our citizens.”

Structuring generally occurs when, instead of conducting a single transaction in currency in an amount that would require a report to be filed or record made by a domestic financial institution, the violator conducts a series of currency transactions, willfully keeping each individual transaction at an amount below applicable thresholds to evade reporting or recording.  In addition to being a stand-alone offense, structuring is a crime that often occurs in connection with other criminal activity.

Under the new policy, in the absence of criminal charges, judicially authorized warrants to seize bank accounts involved in structuring can only be obtained if the prosecutor first develops probable cause of additional federal criminal activity and that determination is approved by a supervisor.  Otherwise, a prosecutor may ask a judge to issue a seizure warrant only if either the U.S. Attorney or the Chief of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section personally determines that seizure would serve a compelling law enforcement interest.

In addition, the new policy imposes important protections after a seizure has taken place.  The policy requires a prosecutor to promptly direct a seizing agency to return funds if the prosecutor determines that there is insufficient admissible evidence to prevail in a criminal or civil trial.  The policy also imposes a 150-day deadline to file a criminal indictment or civil complaint against the seized funds, or otherwise directs a return of the full amount of the seized funds.  Finally, the policy requires a formal, written settlement agreement vetted by a federal prosecutor for settlements of structuring offenses.

This new policy is the most recent result of the department’s ongoing review of the Asset Forfeiture Program to ensure that asset forfeiture – a critical law enforcement tool – can continue to be used to appropriately take the profits out of crime and return assets to victims, all while safeguarding civil liberties.

The policy was developed by the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Criminal Division and the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys.  The policy applies to all Department of Justice attorneys.

MANUFACTURER FACES $294,000 IN OSHA VIOLATIONS FOR FAILING TO TRAIN WORKERS IN SAFETY PROCEDURES

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Edsal Manufacturing repeatedly allows safety hazards, faces more than $294K in fines
Citations for staffing company for failing to train temporary workers in safety procedures

CHICAGO — Left unguarded, dangerous machines with moving parts cause hundreds of thousands of workers to suffer finger, hand or foot amputations and other serious injuries each year in the United States. Despite these dangers, one Chicago-based manufacturer has repeatedly ignored the risks and has been found in violation of safety and health standards four times in the last five years.
Edsal Manufacturing Co. was inspected again in September 2014 by U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators and cited for five repeated and 16 serious safety and health violations, including electrical hazards and failing to train workers in forklift operations and machine hazards. Edsal faces proposed penalties of $294,300 and has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"When a machine lacks safety features, one slip and a worker can lose a hand," said Kathy Webb, area director of OSHA's Calumet City office. "With stakes this high, Edsal Manufacturing must ensure the safety and health of its 1,200 employees. This company has shown, time and time again, it does not take worker safety seriously. That attitude needs to change."

Responding to a complaint, agency investigators saw workers endangered by machine hazards. While operating mechanical power presses, workers were exposed to unguarded foot pedals, point of operation and chains and sprockets. The inspection resulted in five repeated violations. Edsal Manufacturing was cited for similar violations at this same facility in 2010 and 2012. The company also failed to store pallets of paint properly; provide training to workers on hazardous chemicals in the workplace; maintain fire extinguishers; inspect cranes periodically for safety issues; and provide welding screens and eye protection. Electrical safety hazards and lack of training were also noted.  A total of 16 serious safety and health violations were issued.

OSHA has also cited KG Payroll & Staffing Services Corp., which provides temporary labor to the plant, for failing to train workers on personnel protective equipment needed for the job and the potential hazards of chemicals used in the facility. The company has a contract with Edsal Manufacturing to provide training for any temporary workers it assigns to the plant. The Berwyn company was issued two serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $11,000.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

SEC ACCUSES EXECUTIVE WITH USING FALSE ACCOUNTING ENTRIES TO INFLATE QUARTERLY REVENUES

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
04/01/2015 02:45 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the owner and chief executive of a North Carolina business with defrauding a publicly-traded telecommunications company and its shareholders during and after its acquisition of his business.

The executive, Timothy Scronce, agreed to settle the charges against him without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.  Scronce consented to the SEC’s order requiring him to return his allegedly ill-gotten gains with interest, pay a civil penalty, and be barred for 10 years from serving as a public company officer or director.

Bloomingdale, Ill.-based PCTEL Inc. acquired assets of TelWorx Communications LLC and three related telecommunications companies owned or controlled by Scronce for cash and a stock-based earn-out. According to the SEC’s order, Scronce used false accounting entries to inflate TelWorx’s quarterly revenues and earnings in the months leading up to the purchase to inflate the price PCTEL paid for the companies.  Scronce indirectly defrauded PCTEL’s shareholders because TelWorx’s false financial statements were incorporated into an SEC filing made by PCTEL.  After the asset purchase was completed, while employed by PCTEL, Scronce continued to conceal his fraudulent activities.  He falsified PCTEL’s books and records and circumvented the company’s internal controls by recording bogus transactions

In separate settled administrative proceedings instituted today, the SEC charged two former TelWorx employees who worked with Scronce at PCTEL after the asset purchase: senior vice president Marc Mize and controller Michael Hedrick.  The SEC’s orders find that Mize played a role in recording the bogus transactions after the asset purchase and that Hedrick participated in the fraud and recorded bogus transactions.  Mize and Hedrick settled the SEC’s charges without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.  Mize agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty and Hedrick agreed to disgorge $25,000 plus prejudgment interest.  Hedrick entered into a cooperation agreement with the SEC.

“Scronce used accounting gimmicks to make TelWorx appear more valuable to PCTEL than it actually was,” said Robert Burson, Associate Regional Director of the SEC’s Chicago office. “Scronce compounded his deception by recording fake transactions even after the acquisition was complete.”

The SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding against Scronce finds that he violated the anti-fraud, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  The SEC’s order also finds that he caused PCTEL’s violations of the books and records and reporting provisions of the Exchange Act.

The SEC’s order against Hedrick finds that he caused Scronce’s violations of the anti-fraud provisions of the Exchange Act and violated the books and records and internal controls provisions.  The order also finds that Hedrick caused PCTEL’s violations of the books and records and reporting provisions.

The SEC’s order against Mize finds that he violated the books and records and internal controls provisions and caused PCTEL’s violations of the books and records provisions of the Exchange Act.

The SEC’s investigation, which is ongoing, has been conducted by Jen Peltz, Nicholas Eichenseer, Luz Aguilar and Robert M. Moye and supervised by Paul Montoya of the Chicago Regional Office.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

READOUT: PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CALL WITH KING SALMAN BIN ABDULAZIZ AL-SAUD REGARDING FRAMEWORK OF NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE
April 02, 2015
Readout of the President’s Call With King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia

The President called King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia today to discuss the political framework reached between the P5+1, the EU, and Iran on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  The President reiterated that the months ahead will be used to finalize the technical details for a lasting, comprehensive solution that effectively cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.  He emphasized that the nuclear understanding between the P5+1 and Iran will not in any way lessen U.S. concern about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.  The leaders agreed to increase consultations and remain vigilant in countering this threat.  As part of this effort, the President invited the King and Gulf Cooperation Council leaders to Camp David this spring to continue consultations.  The President and King Salman reaffirmed the enduring friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

READOUT: PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CALL WITH ISRAEL'S PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU REGARDING FRAMEWORK OF DEAL WITH IRAN

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE  
April 02, 2015
Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel

President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu today from Air Force One to discuss the political framework reached between the P5+1, the EU, and Iran on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  The President emphasized that, while nothing is agreed until everything is, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.  He underscored that progress on the nuclear issue in no way diminishes our concerns with respect to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel and emphasized that the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel.   The President told the Prime Minister that he has directed his national security team to increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran’s threats.

SECRETARY KERRY'S PRESS AVAILABILITY IN LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
04/02/2015 06:41 PM EDT
Press Availability in Lausanne, Switzerland
Press Availability
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Lausanne, Switzerland
April 2, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good evening and – excuse me – thank you all very, very much for your patience. And I want to start by expressing an enormous thank you, merci, danke, to the people and the Government of Switzerland for their incredible generosity. The way in which they have welcomed us and the amount of effort is really extraordinary, and we’re very, very grateful to them. And throughout this entire process, certainly over the past week, the people of Switzerland have gone above and beyond in order to facilitate these negotiations, and I don’t think anybody could imagine a much more peaceful setting in order to pursue a peaceful path forward. (In French.)

I also want to thank the very many other nations that have provided a home for these negotiations over the past couple of years – people forget that, it’s been going on that long – and that includes Austria, which was incredibly generous in hosting our delegation in Vienna for a long period of time; Oman, which has not only hosted a number of important meetings, but also played a critical role in getting these talks off the ground in the first place; and then, of course, we say thank you to Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, and my home country, the United States.

I particularly want to thank President Obama. He has been courageous and determined in his pursuit of a diplomatic path. And from the day that he took office, President Obama has been crystal-clear that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to our security and the security of our allies in the region, including Israel. He has been just as clear that the best and most effective way to prevent that threat is through diplomacy.

The journey towards a diplomatic solution began years ago. And I can tell you that I’ve personally been involved for about four years, beginning from the time that I was serving in the United States Senate. Others have been on this journey, and some of the others in our team, for even longer than that.

But as Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative Mogherini announced moments ago, today we have reached a critical milestone in that quest. We, our P5+1, EU partners, and Iran have arrived at a consensus on the key parameters of an arrangement that, once implemented, will give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful. And over the coming weeks, with all of the conditions of the 2013 Joint Plan of Action still in effect from this moment forward, our experts will continue to work hard to build on the parameters that we have arrived at today and finalize a comprehensive deal by the end of June.

Now we have said from the beginning – I think you’ve heard me say it again and again – that we will not accept just any deal, that we will only accept a good deal. And today, I can tell you that the political understanding with details that we have reached is a solid foundation for the good deal that we are seeking. It is the foundation for a deal that will see Iran reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent for 15 years. It is a deal in which Iran will cut its installed centrifuges by more than two-thirds for 10 years. It is a deal that will increase Iran’s breakout time, which was confirmed publicly today to be two to three months, and that is the time that it would take Iran to speed up its enrichment in order to produce enough fissile material for one potential nuclear weapon. And that will be expanded now, under this deal, to one year from those two to three months. That is obviously as much as six times what it is today, and what it has been for the past three years.

I’d like also to make one more point very, very clear because it has been misinterpreted and misstated, misrepresented for much of this discussion: There will be no sunset to the deal that we are working to finalize – no sunset, none. The parameters of this agreement will be implemented in phases. Some provisions will be in place for 10 years; others will be in place for 15 years; others still will be in place for 25 years. But certain provisions, including many transparency measures, will be in place indefinitely into the future. They will never expire. And the bottom line is that, under this arrangement, the international community will have confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, providing, of course, that the provisions are adhered to. And if they aren’t, we have provisions that empower us to deal with that.

Ultimately, the parameters that we have agreed to will do exactly what we set out to do – make certain that all pathways to make enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon have been cut off, including the uranium pathway at Natanz and Fordow, and the plutonium pathway at Arak, and, of course, the covert pathway.

Now we, our partners, and Iran have agreed that the only uranium-enrichment facility Iran will operate moving forward will be the facility at Natanz. And even that one will undergo dramatic changes. The vast majority of the centrifuges and their infrastructure will be removed. And for at least the next 15 years, the stockpile will remain at 300 kilograms. And any uranium that is enriched at Natanz will be capped at 3.67 percent, which is a typical level of enrichment for civilian nuclear power, but doesn’t even begin to approach the enrichment level necessary for a weapon.

We have agreed that the facility at Fordow will halt all uranium enrichment, period – all uranium enrichment, and in fact, there will not even be any fissile material present at the site and no enrichment R&D. Instead, the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center.

We have also agreed that Iran will redesign and rebuild its heavy-water reactor at Arak so that it will no longer produce any weapons-grade plutonium. And the United States will be able to sign off, certify, the reactor’s final design, redesign. And through international cooperation, it will be transformed into a reactor supporting only peaceful nuclear research and nuclear medicine. And the calandria, as you heard earlier, will be taken out and destroyed.

We have agreed that Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the Arak reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime. And Iran has agreed to refrain from building any additional heavy-water reactors for the next 15 years at least – “at least” means still open for beyond that period in the course of the next three months.

And we have agreed that Iran will face regular and comprehensive inspections, which is the best possible way to detect any attempt to covertly produce a weapon. Not only will inspectors have regular access to all of Iran’s declared facilities indefinitely, but they will also be able to monitor the facilities that produce the centrifuges themselves and the uranium that supports the nuclear program. And they will be able to do that for at least 20 years.

This critical step will help to guard against diversion of those materials to any clandestine location or plant. In addition, Iran has agreed to allow IAEA to investigate any suspicious site or any allegations of covert nuclear activities anywhere.

So these are just a few of the key – and I mean a few – of the key measures that will make up an extraordinarily comprehensive monitoring and transparency regime when and if it is finally signed and completed over the course of the next months. Now we have been very clear, both publicly and privately, a final agreement will not rely on promises. It will rely on proof.

It is important to note that Iran, to date, has honored all of the commitments that it made under the Joint Plan of Action that we agreed to in 2013. And I ask you to think about that against the backdrop of those who predicted that it would fail and not get the job done.

And in return for Iran’s future cooperation, we and our international partners will provide relief in phases from the sanctions that have impacted Iran’s economy. And if we find at any point that Iran is not complying with this agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place. So together these parameters outline a reasonable standard that Iran can readily meet, and it is the standard that Iran has now agreed to meet.

Throughout history, diplomacy has been necessary to prevent wars and to define international boundaries, to design institutions, and to develop global norms. Simply demanding that Iran capitulate makes a nice soundbite, but it’s not a policy. It is not a realistic plan. So the true measure of this understanding is not whether it meets all the desires of one side at the expense of the other. The test is whether or not it will leave the world safer or more secure than it would be without this agreement. And there can be no question that the comprehensive plan that we are moving toward will more than pass that test.

This isn’t just my assessment. It isn’t just the assessment of the United States delegation and our experts. It is the assessment of every one of our P5+1 partners who stood up here a little while ago in front of the flags of their nations. It is the assessment of our negotiating partners – Germany, the UK, China, France, and Russia – and all of our experts who have analyzed every aspect of this issue also join in that assessment.

From the beginning, we have negotiated as a team, and we are all agreed that this is the best outcome achievable. No viable alternatives – not one – would be nearly as effective at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon than – over a period of time than the parameters, providing they get completed and are signed.

Our political understanding arrived at today opens the door for a long-term resolution to the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Now, we have no illusions about the fact that we still have a ways to travel before we’ll arrive at the destination that we seek. We still have many technical details to work out on both sides and still some other issues that we acknowledge still have to be resolved; for example, the duration of the UN arms and ballistic missile restrictions on Iran and the precise timing of and mechanism for the conversion of the Arak reactor and Fordow site. And of course, once we’re able to finalize a comprehensive deal, the process of implementation then remains in front of us as well. But that’s a good challenge to have, frankly.

Throughout this negotiation, we have made a diligent effort to consult with our allies, our partners, including Israel and the Gulf states, and we have vigorously reaffirmed our enduring commitment to their security. No one should mistake that. And we will continue to stand by that commitment in the years and days ahead.

Obviously, we remain deeply concerned about Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region, and we remain fully committed to addressing the full slate of issues that we currently have with Iran. But it is because we are so concerned about those issues and about the region’s security. Precisely because of that concern that we believe this deal is critical. The status quo with respect to Iran’s nuclear program is unacceptable.

And certainly, we will continue to consult closely in the days ahead with the United States Congress. They and we understand that an Iran that had a nuclear weapon in the context of today’s troubles would be even more problematic. I spent almost 30 years in the United States Senate, and I had the privilege and the responsibility of chairing the Foreign Relations Committee when we put tough sanctions in place when this regime was put in place. And that is the regime that indeed has brought this negotiation about.

We are deeply grateful for Congress’s support of the diplomatic path to date, and we appreciate their patience. There were those agitating to take action earlier. Responsible voices held off and they helped us to get to this moment, and we appreciate that. We sincerely hope that members will continue to give us the time and the space that we need to fully explain the political agreement that we have reached and to work out the remaining details of a final deal.

Before I take a few questions, I just want to take a moment to thank some very important people. The team that has been assembled throughout this process is really made up of an extraordinary group of public servants, and believe me, they have served their country and the world well in these days. I want to thank my Cabinet colleague, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, who was indispensable in his knowledge and his technical expertise to be able to sit down and work through some very complex issues. His background as a nuclear scientist and his expertise was essential in helping us to arrive at this moment. I also particularly want to thank my colleague at the State Department, the Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. She has been absolutely superb, indefatigable, organized, strong, clear, visionary, and we are grateful.

I also want to thank the remarkable team of experts who haven’t slept in days, who’ve kept working, who have chased down numbers on – instantaneous call at any hour, and that goes for the team back home in the United States in the laboratories, in the White House, in the State Department, all of whom have contributed to our ability to be able to know what we are doing and to be able to put this initial agreement together.

Now I want to thank the delegations also from the P5+1 countries. As I said earlier, this is a team effort, partnership, and each and every one of their political directors, each and every one of their experts, was essential to help chase down details, help us create a consensus, help us check our own figures and our own thoughts about this effort. And I particularly thank Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, Foreign Secretary Hammond from the United Kingdom, Foreign Minister Lavrov from Russia, Foreign Minister Steinmeier from Germany, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi from China. Every one of them showed an extraordinary commitment to this effort, and they have all contributed to this outcome. And it has been a real partnership, with every country weighing in, every country concerned, every country making suggestions. And I believe that their presence here tonight, their affirmation of this opportunity to try to finalize a deal over the next three months, is a critical component of credibility that should be given to this effort.

I also want to thank the EU for its facilitation of these talks. That begins with Dame Cathy Ashton, who spent many, many hours over several years helping to guide these talks. She worked all the way through last December, and her efforts were essential in getting the formal negotiations structured. Her successor, Federica Mogherini, has seized the baton and done an excellent job of filling right in and helping to move the process forward, and we thank both of them. And Federica’s deputy has just been superb. Helga Schmid, who has been the critical link between the EU and the entire P5+1 – we are very, very grateful for her stamina and her creativity and commitment.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Zarif and Dr. Salehi. From the beginning, they have approached these talks with great professionalism and with seriousness of purpose. They’ve been difficult – at times extremely intense; at times emotional; always challenging. Not all of our meetings were easy. In fact, many were quite difficult because the passions are there for everybody. But we have shown, I think, diligence and respect on all sides and always kept the objective, which is a peaceful resolution of this issue, in mind.

I emphasize: We still have a lot of work to do. We have agreed on the most challenging and overarching issues, but now there are a number of technical decisions that need to be made, and there are still policy decisions that have to be made. But we have the outline; we have the basic framing, if you will – the construction. And as we continue on, the United States and our P5+1 partners will exhibit the same vigilance, the same unity of purpose, the same comprehensive approach, and the same good faith among us that has brought us this far. So thank you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.

HARF: Great, thank you. The first question is from Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News. I think a mike should be coming to you.

QUESTION: Thanks, Marie. Is this on? Okay.

Secretary Kerry, can you tell us which gaps you were unable to reach understanding on, and are any elements not being made public? How long will it take Iran to comply so that sanctions can be eased, and could the deal fall through over the next three months? And lastly, will the three Americans being held in Iran be released as a goodwill measure if this deal is completed? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, yeah, of course. I mean, we have acknowledged there are some gaps. I just listed a few of them a moment ago for you. There are issues that we have to resolve. And I’m not going to go into all of them right now, but I think I listed several of them in my comments. We have to finish dealing with Fordow, in some respects, with respect to transition. That’s one of the things we’re going to be looking at and talking about. We have other considerations with respect to the sanctions themselves and the rate and timing and so forth. But I don’t think it serves any great purpose to go through all that now. In the days ahead, there will be plenty of time to focus on that with Congress and others, and we look forward to those consultations.

It’s really a matter of anywhere from probably six months to a year or so that it will take to begin to comply with all of the nuclear steps that need to be taken in order to then begin into the phasing. Those steps have to happen first. And in the meantime, the interim agreement – the JPOA, as it’s called, Joint Plan of Action – will continue to be implemented in full. And so we believe there is a full continuity in the oversight and accountability that is necessary to proceed forward.

And finally, with respect to our citizens, we, of course, have had a number of conversations; and no meeting, no date when we come together, has been without conversation about our American citizens. I’m not going to go into any details, except to say to you that that conversation is continuing. We have a very specific process in place to try to deal with it. And we call on Iran again today, now, in light of this, to release these Americans and let them get home with their families. And we’re working on that and we will continue to be very focused on it.

HARF: The next question is from Amir Paivar of BBC Persia.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Secretary Kerry, for the opportunity. As the business correspondent for my channel, the single one question every Iranian, from ordinary Iranians to those in boardrooms of Iranian companies, have been asking me is if on July 1st we have a joint comprehensive plan of action how fast, in what sequence, and in what format will economic sanctions, more specifically banking sanctions, which have been hurting many Iranians inside and outside the country, will be removed? I do understand you said that it will depend on compliance from Iran, but if you could just give us a bit more precise idea.

And also if I can, second question is – you have been – Foreign Secretary Zarif seems to have the world record of having face time with you thanks to these negotiations. Would you say these negotiations will help in future to improve ties between Iran and United States?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, on the latter question, all I can do is hope, like I think most citizens would hope. I would assume, from what we pick up through the diaspora and otherwise with respect to Iran, there are many, many Iranians who hope that they can join the world. But I’m not going to speculate on that. I have no idea. It would depend entirely on the resolution of a lot of things as we go forward.

The one thing we do know is that if we can eliminate this question of the nuclear issue, it begins to at some point, conceivably, provide an opportunity for change. I’m not going to predict anything. But I do know that stopping having a nuclear weapon makes the world safer, and that is what President Obama and all of us have been focused on.

With respect to the negotiations, I think – what was the first part of your question? It was about --

QUESTION: It’s about sanctions.

SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, the sanctions, yes. On the sanctions, as I said, they were phased. There are a set of requirements, for instance, the dismantlement of some of the centrifuges and the dismantlement of the infrastructure that is associated with those centrifuges. Iran has a responsibility to get the breakout time to the one year. And they can do it as fast as they want, and I assume will try to do it very rapidly. But we think that just the amount of work and the things they have to do will be somewhere in the vicinity of four (inaudible) months to a year, somewhere in there. I can’t say for certain.

But when that is done and certified by the IAEA that they have lived up to that nuclear responsibility, and we make that judgment with them, at that point in time the – there would begin the phasing of the sanctions. And we have stated very clearly that that will begin with the suspension with respect to the economic and financial sanctions at that point in time.

So there will be – I mean, this is part of the nature of any negotiation. In exchange for the restraints and restrictions that Iran is putting in place here, we will, indeed, take the very tool that was calculated to bring people to negotiate, once it has succeeded in achieving the goal, we will begin to phase those out. And that timing on other parts of that obviously remains still to be negotiated. But on the finance and the banking component, the economic components, those the President has committed to move on when that first phase is complete, and we move on to the next phase of implementation.

HARF: The final question’s from Michael Gordon of The New York Times.

QUESTION: Mr. Kerry, Iranian TV also (inaudible).

HARF: No, let’s just do one at a time. Let’s do one at a time. Let’s go to Michael Gordon of The New York Times. Thank you.

QUESTION: Sir, you just said they’re not merely technical issues that remain to be threshed out, but still some policy decisions that need to be made. What are the most important policy issues that need to be confronted before there can be an agreement at the end of June? And also, nothing here has been said on how Iran’s large stock of uranium is to be disposed of, either by shipping it out of the country or dealing with it inside the country. How will that be done?

And lastly, on sanctions, Minister Zarif said the Security Council resolutions will be suspended or eliminated, but can you tell us some more how that will work, especially since they could take years for Iran to address the IAEA’s concerns over PMD? And have you assured the Iranians that the White House will be able to persuade the Congress to revoke the sanctions it has imposed if Iran keeps its commitments?

SECRETARY KERRY: The question of the sanctions, Michael, remains one of the issues of the timing – the exact timing and the exact process associated with it remains one of those issues that is going to be negotiated over the course of the next three months. The commitment is to lift the economic and financial sanctions on the occasion of what I mentioned earlier on the nuclear side. Beyond that, UN sanctions, others with respect to ballistic missile embargo, et cetera, those remain for negotiation.

With respect to the question of the IAEA process, et cetera, and what happens with respect to the stockpile, it has to either be diluted or sold on the international market, one of the two. So whatever excess there is with respect to that will actually be returned right into uranium and not serve any fundamental purpose. But the stockpile is going to have to be diluted or sold in the international marketplace, and that is agreed upon at this point in time.

So thank you all very, very much.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY MAKES STATEMENT ON GARISSA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE ATTACK

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE
April 02, 2015
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Garissa University College Attack

The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s terrorist attack against the innocent men and women of Garissa University College in eastern Kenya. We extend our deep condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed in this heinous attack, which reportedly included the targeting of Christian students. Our thoughts and prayers also are with the many injured. The United States is providing assistance to the Kenyan Government, and we will continue to partner with them as well as with others in the region to take on the terrorist group al-Shabaab. The United States stands with the people of Kenya, who will not be intimidated by such cowardly attacks.

DOJ ANNOUNCES CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST CONSPIRATORS WHO PLOTTED WMD ATTACK ON U.S.

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Two Queens, New York, Residents Charged With Conspiracy to Use a Weapon of Mass Destruction
Defendants Allegedly Plotted to Construct an Explosive Device for Use in a Terrorist Attack on U.S. Soil

U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Assistant Director in Charge Diego G. Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Commissioner William J. Bratton of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced that earlier today, a criminal complaint was unsealed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property in the United States.  The defendants’ initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky of the Eastern District of New York.

As alleged in the complaint, the defendants have repeatedly expressed their support for violent jihad.  For instance, in or about 2009, Siddiqui published a poem in a magazine published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that exhorted readers to wage jihad and declared that there is “[n]o excuse to sit back and wait – for the skies rain martyrdom.”  More recently, Velentzas, who has characterized al-Qaeda founder Usama Bin Laden as one of her heroes, declared that she and Siddiqui are “citizens of the Islamic State” – a reference to the foreign terrorist organization that is also known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Less than two weeks ago, Velentzas, asked whether she had heard the news about the recent arrest of a former U.S. airman who had attempted to travel to Syria to wage jihad and stated that she did not understand why people were traveling overseas to engage in jihad when there were more opportunities of “pleasing Allah” in the United States.

Since at least August 2014, the defendants have allegedly plotted to construct an explosive device for use in a terrorist attack on American soil.  In their self-proclaimed effort to “make history,” the defendants researched numerous explosive precursors.  For instance, they researched and acquired some of the components of a car bomb, like the one used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; a fertilizer bomb, like the one used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City; and a pressure cooker bomb, like the one used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.  The investigation recently revealed that the defendants possessed propane gas tanks together with instructions from an online jihadist publication for transforming propane tanks into explosive devices.

“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland.  We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”  U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which comprises a large number of federal, state and local agencies from the region, as well as to the NYPD Intelligence Division, for their assistance in the investigation.

“Velentzas and Siddiqui are alleged to have researched how to construct bombs as part of their conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction on American soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Identifying and disrupting such threats to public safety, whether at home or abroad, is the number one priority of the National Security Division and our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities.  I want to thank the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for today’s charges.”

“The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez.  “We continue to pursue those who look to commit acts of terror and deter others who think they are beyond the reach of law enforcement.  I’d like to thank Commissioner Bratton and the New York City Police Department for their partnership on this case and so many others.”

“These defendants allegedly engaged in sustained efforts to obtain bomb-making instructions and materials, including using instructions provided by al-Qaeda’s online magazine,” said Commissioner Bratton.  “The work of the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau, its undercover Detective, and the seamless collaboration with the Special Agents and Detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and United States Attorney for the Eastern District should serve as a model for early detection and prevention of terrorist plotting.”

If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander A. Solomon, Douglas M. Pravda and Jennifer S. Carapiet of the Eastern District of New York, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Clement McGovern of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

WHITE HOUSE ISSUES PARAMETERS FOR NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE
April 02, 2015
Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program

Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.

Enrichment

Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first-generation centrifuge.
Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched

uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.

All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.

Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.

Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.

Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium

Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years.
Iran has agreed to convert its Fordow facility so that it is used for peaceful purposes only

– into a nuclear, physics, technology, research center.

Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years.

Iran will not have any fissile material at Fordow for 15 years.

• Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring.

Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.

Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges.
Iran will remove the 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in IAEA monitored storage for ten years.

Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1.

For ten years, enrichment and enrichment research and development will be limited to ensure a breakout timeline of at least 1 year. Beyond 10 years, Iran will abide by its enrichment and enrichment R&D plan submitted to the IAEA, and pursuant to the JCPOA, under the Additional Protocol resulting in certain limitations on enrichment capacity.
Inspections and Transparency

The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.
Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake, for 25 years.

Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA.

A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.

Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.

Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construction of new facilities.

Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.
Reactors and Reprocessing

Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the P5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium, and which will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production.

The original core of the reactor, which would have enabled the production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.

Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.

Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.

Iran will not accumulate heavy water in excess of the needs of the modified Arak reactor, and will sell any remaining heavy water on the international market for 15 years.

Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.
Sanctions

•Iran will receive sanctions relief, if it verifiably abides by its commitments.
• U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.

All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordow, Arak, PMD, and transparency).

However, core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions – those that deal with transfers of sensitive technologies and activities – will be re-established by a new UN Security Council resolution that will endorse the JCPOA and urge its full implementation. It will also create the procurement channel mentioned above, which will serve as a key transparency measure. Important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, as well as provisions that allow for related cargo inspections and asset freezes, will also be incorporated by this new resolution.

A dispute resolution process will be specified, which enables any JCPOA participant, to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of JCPOA commitments.

If an issue of significant non-performance cannot be resolved through that process, then all previous UN sanctions could be re-imposed.
U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.
Phasing

For ten years, Iran will limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development – ensuring a breakout timeline of at least one year. Beyond that, Iran will be bound by its longer-term enrichment and enrichment research and development plan it shared with the P5+1.

For fifteen years, Iran will limit additional elements of its program. For instance, Iran will not build new enrichment facilities or heavy water reactors and will limit its stockpile of enriched uranium and accept enhanced transparency procedures.

Important inspections and transparency measures will continue well beyond 15 years. Iran’s adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA is permanent, including its significant access and transparency obligations. The robust inspections of Iran’s uranium supply chain will last for 25 years.
Even after the period of the most stringent limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Iran’s development or acquisition of nuclear weapons and requires IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program.