Overnight Defense: Iran exceeds deal's uranium enrichment limit in latest breach | Admiral confirmed as top Navy officer resigning | DHS requests 1,000 more National Guard troops at border
Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
THE TOPLINE: The Iranian nuclear deal took another hit Monday as Iran blew past the limit on uranium enrichment.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Monday that Iran has exceeded the uranium enrichment level, a day after Tehran announced it was moving forward with doing so.
“Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the IAEA Board of Governors that Agency inspectors on 8 July verified that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67% U-235,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.
The statement did not say to what purity level Iran is now enriching uranium. But earlier Monday, the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency told the semi-official ISNA news agency his country has “surpassed the 4.5 percent” enrichment level.
Not close to a weapon: The Iran nuclear deal sets a 3.67 percent enrichment level, enough to fuel a power plant but far from weapons-grade.
The 4.5 percent referenced by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization is also still well below the 90 percent enrichment level that is considered weapons-grade. But increasing uranium enrichment levels is still seen as a more serious breach than Iran’s earlier breach on stockpiling low-enriched uranium, as it inches the country closer to a nuclear weapon.
Iran on Monday also threatened to take further steps in 60 days, including possibly restarting centrifuges that were dismantled under the nuclear deal or enriching uranium to 20 percent.
Once Iran reaches 20 percent, it would take much less time to reach 90 percent enrichment.
Trump’s response: The Trump administration is standing firm on its so-called maximum pressure campaign.
On Sunday after Iran’s announcement, President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe ambassador’s cables and the Tory election Trump to give speech on ‘America’s environmental leadership’ NY governor signs bill allowing Congress to obtain Trump’s state tax returns MORE warned Iran to “be careful.”
“Iran better be careful because you enrich for one reason, and I won’t tell you what that reason is, but it’s no good,” Trump said. “They better be careful.”
Trump administration officials speaking Monday to the Christians United for Israel conference also vowed not to waver from the maximum pressure policy.
“We will continue to bring pressure on their economy, and under President Donald Trump, America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Vice President Pence said at the conference.
“We’ve implemented the strongest pressure campaign in history against the Iranian regime, and we are not done,” Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoKobach to run for Senate in Kansas The Hill’s Morning Report – Democrats assail border conditions as Congress returns to work The Department of Defense needs Mark Esper — and a few policy changes MORE added during his speech.
Read more: In anticipation of Iran’s latest move, we took a look this weekend at what you need to know about its breaches of the nuclear deal. Catch up on that here.
NAVY SHAKEUP: The admiral who was slated to be the Navy’s next top officer is resigning instead.
Word came down late Sunday that Adm. Bill Moran was bowing out because of what officials described as a question in his judgment after it was discovered he maintained a professional relationship with someone who had been reprimanded.
“While I admire his faithful service and commitment to the Navy, this decision on his part to maintain that relationship has caused me to call his judgment into question. Therefore, today I accepted Adm. Moran’s request to retire,” Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said in a statement.
Moran was already been confirmed by the Senate to be the next chief of naval operations, making the news all the more shocking.
In his own statement, Moran said he decided to retire because of an open investigation into emails he exchanged with the unnamed former officer.
“To be clear, my decision to maintain this relationship was in no way an endorsement or tacit approval of this kind of conduct,” Moran said. “I understand how toxic it can be to any team when inappropriate behavior goes unrecognized and unchecked.”
Current Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, who was scheduled to retire soon, is now expected to stay on until a new replacement is confirmed.
What happened: None of the official statements are saying it, but the relationship that Moran maintained was with Cmdr. Chris Servello, according to multiple reports.
Servello was Richardon’s former spokesman until accusations of misconduct at a 2016 office Christmas party surfaced that led to lawmakers and the media dubbing Servello “Bad Santa.”
Servello was accused by fellow officers and a civilian of making unwanted sexual passes and slapping a woman on the buttocks while dressed as Santa Claus at the party. He was reassigned in mid-2017.
A 2018 inspector general report on the Navy’s handling of the incident rapped Richardson for failing to swiftly take disciplinary action against Servello.
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DHS WANTS MORE GUARDSMEN AT BORDER: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is asking for 1,000 additional Texas National Guard troops “to provide supplemental holding and port of entry enforcement support” to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the state, the Pentagon said Monday.
The Pentagon has not yet approved the request, which was made last week.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has agreed to the use of the National Guard to assist CBP at the border, said Maj. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman.
“Supplemental holding support is requested for CBP holding facilities located at Donna and Tornillo, Texas,” he said in a statement.
“These holding facilities house single adult migrants who have illegally entered the United States, been processed by CBP, and are awaiting transfer to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. These holding facilities will be owned, operated, and managed by CBP.”
Context: The DHS request comes as the Trump administration has received increasing criticism for the treatment of migrants detained at the border.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General recently released two reports detailing conditions in El Paso, Texas, and Rio Grande, Texas, facilities. The government watchdog found severe overcrowding, migrants being held too long and dirty conditions at many of the facilities.
The administration has deflected the criticism, saying stemming the flow of immigrants is a priority.
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter will speak at the Council on Foreign Relations at 12:30 p.m. https://on.cfr.org/2LJWlG7
Southern Command commander Adm. Craig Faller will testify before a Senate Armed Services Committee subpanel at 3 p.m. at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 222. https://bit.ly/2Jo6rLo
The House Rules Committee will meet to prepare the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for floor consideration at 5 p.m. at House, room 313. https://bit.ly/2Yg8tSv
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