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News Briefs

Panel Advises Lifting Economic Embargoes on Iran


As Congress moved Friday to extend sanctions on Iran, a blue-ribbon panel of former top U.S. policymakers called for ending the economic embargoes that have characterized tensions between the United States and the Islamic republic for more than two decades.

Lifting sanctions almost certainly would have the widest impact on Iran’s rich energy industry -- and the United States’ growing appetite. Iran is OPEC’s second-largest oil exporter and the site of the world’s second-largest gas reserves. But it also needs major investment to maintain current production and develop new fields.

“Iran has an important role to play in meeting growing U.S. and worldwide energy demands,” says the panel brought together by the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan network of leaders in foreign policy. Rather than punishing either domestic or foreign companies that invest in Iran’s energy sector, the United States should be encouraging contacts and development “so that Iran can reach its full capacity,” the panel’s report adds.

The panel, made up of top officials from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations, supports a policy shift because of increasing global needs, economic realities, policies of allies and Iran’s changing political environment.

Judge Rejects Bid To Stop WWII Memorial


A federal judge refused Thursday to stop federal officials from awarding a contract to build the World War II memorial on the Mall, and his comments raised serious questions about the future of a lawsuit that challenges the project’s design and location.

Shortly after the ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy, the American Battle Monuments Commission announced that it had awarded a $56 million construction contract and that preparations would go forward on building the memorial at the Rainbow Pool.

Opponents of the proposed memorial site had asked Kennedy to issue a temporary restraining order that would prevent the signing of a contract for at least 10 days. They said they wanted to maintain the status quo while legal issues are debated. Government lawyers, meanwhile, countered that there was no need for action now because no work will be done at the 7.4-acre site until July 5, at the earliest.

Kennedy declined to take emergency action, saying the opponents had failed to show they would suffer serious harm if the contract is awarded. He also said they failed to demonstrate a ‘substantial likelihood’ that they would prevail in the case, adding that it appears Congress has removed the matter from the court’s jurisdiction.