Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments

Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments
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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: U.S.-Iran tensions remain high as the new week begins.

Monday's latest development is the Trump administration's decision to send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East.

The decision was announced in a statement by acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE, who said troops would be used for defensive purposes.

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"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran," Shanahan said. "The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests."

"We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats," he added.

Latest on tanker attack: The announcement comes amid increasing friction between the U.S. and Iran following an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week.

The U.S. has blamed Iran for the attack and produced images it claims show Iranians removing a mine from the ship's hull, but the nation has strongly denied responsibility for the attack.

More on this breaking story here.

Iran deadline: The day's other big development was Iran saying that in 10 days it will have stockpiled more uranium than allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal.

The announcement isn't all that surprising -- in May, Tehran said it was increasing its uranium production capacity. But the announcement sets a new countdown clock for Europe to meet Iran's demands on the nuclear deal.

The specifics: The 2015 nuclear deal says Iran can stockpile no more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium.

In May, Iran announced it was quadrupling its uranium production capacity following the Trump administration's decision to end waivers that allowed Iran to export excess uranium.

On Monday, the spokesman of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said Iran will pass the 300 kilogram limit on June 27.

For now, Iran is still only enriching to the 3.67 percent limit set by the deal -- enough for power plants but far from weapons-grade.

But Kamalvandi said Iran will increase uranium enrichment levels "based on the country's needs." He said Iran needs 5 percent enrichment for its nuclear power plant in Bushehr and 20 percent enrichment for a Tehran research reactor.

Iran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to ensure it still gets benefits from the deal despite U.S. sanctions before it will increase enrichment levels.

US response: The Trump administration responded to the news by blaming the Obama administration and calling for "increased international pressure" against Iran.

"Iran's enrichment plans are only possible because the horrible nuclear deal left ... their capabilities intact," National Security Council spokesman Garret Marquis said in a statement. "President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime's nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure."

European response: Iran's announcement came as European foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels to discuss recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said Monday the situation in the Gulf calls for "maximum restraint," a play on the Trump administration's policy of "maximum pressure."

Foreign ministers expressed, she said, "a very strong element of concern for the risk of miscalculation or unintentional escalations that could occur in a region that is already to the limits of the stress test."

Mogherini also said the EU was focused on ways to "keep the [nuclear] agreement in place," including mechanisms for Iran to continue to benefit from the deal.

She stressed Europe will move forward based on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessments.

"Our assessment on the implementation of the agreement is based on the factual, technically sound assessment and evaluation that the IAEA makes in its reports. And so far, Iran has been compliant with its nuclear commitments as we had expected it to be, as we had encouraged it to be," she said. "So if the IAEA assessment and reports will change, we will then assess the situation further."

Over the weekend: Iran was a prominent top of discussion on the Sunday shows.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran Trump doubles down on Graham: 'How did going into Iraq work out?' MORE stood by the administration's assessment that Iran attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, saying it is "unmistakable what happened here."

"These were attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran on commercial shipping on the freedom of navigation, with the clear intent to deny transit through the strait," Pompeo said.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul MORE (D-Calif.) said in an interview that aired Sunday that "we have absolutely no appetite for going to war" with Iran.

"We have absolutely no appetite for going to war or to be provocative, to create situations that might evoke responses where mistakes could be made," she said while appearing on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

Iran-hawk Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant Cotton2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration Meadows, Cotton introduce bill to prevent district judges from blocking federal policy changes MORE (R-Ark.) said the tanker attacks "warrant a retaliatory military strike."

"These unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike," Cotton said on CBS's "Face the Nation" while insisting President Trump had the power to order such a strike without congressional approval.

"The president has the authorization to act to defend American interests," Cotton said.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Poll: Biden leads Democratic field by 10 points in Florida CNN announces details for LGBTQ town hall MORE said in an interview that aired Sunday that U.S. tensions with Iran are "disturbingly reminiscent" of the lead-up to the Iraq War.

"There's no question that Iran has a pattern of malign activities. There's also no question that there is a pattern that is disturbingly reminiscent of the run-up to the war in Iraq in some cases being driven by the same people," Buttigieg said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Coming up: Pompeo will meet Tuesday with Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie and Special Operations Command chief Gen. Richard Clarke at their headquarters in Florida to discuss "regional security concerns and ongoing operations," the State Department announced Monday.

It's unusual for a secretary of State to meet with combatant commanders, so keep an eye out for news about the visit.

 

DEFENSE BILL AMENDMENTS ROLL IN: Every year hundreds of amendments are filed on the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), while only a few, if any, are actually voted on.

But The Hill's Jordain Carney is diligently pouring over the amendments nonetheless, highlighting the most interesting.

Among them, Senate Democrats want to block defense funding from being used for the border wall.

Spearheaded by Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP's Kennedy sends warning shot to Trump nominee Menashi Senate Democrats block government spending bill Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw MORE (D-Ill.), the amendment would prohibit Trump from using national defense funds authorized by the mammoth policy bill toward the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The amendment would also prohibit Trump from using national defense funds authorized between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 as part of the NDAA.

The amendment is supported by Democratic Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver | Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback | Trump officials finalize rule allowing fewer inspectors at pork plants Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback MORE (N.M.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocrats press for action on election security The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine MORE (Vt.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' State probes of Google, Facebook to test century-old antitrust laws MORE (Hawaii), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment MORE (Mont.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Trump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP Senate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections MORE (Conn.). Leahy is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, while Tester is the ranking member on the panel's Department of Homeland Security subcommittee.

Honoring McCain: Another amendment of interest revives a bipartisan push to start a human rights commission named after the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCan the presidential candidates please talk about our debt crisis? Michelle Malkin knocks Cokie Roberts shortly after her death: 'One of the first guilty culprits of fake news' Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema MORE (R-Ariz.).

The commission, according to the legislation, would hold hearings and briefings on human rights violations and collaborate with the Trump administration and outside groups on human rights initiatives.

Sens. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Bill to return B in unredeemed bonds advances Grassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel MORE (D-Del.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTillis trails Democratic Senate challenger by 2 points: poll Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-N.C.), who co-chair the Senate Human Rights Caucus, first introduced legislation to create the commission named after McCain late last year.

In addition to Coons and Tillis, Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Minn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Congress set for chaotic fall sprint Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess MORE (R-Ind.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDemocrats ignore Asian American and Pacific Islander voters at their peril Republicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall Lawmakers mark anniversary of Martin Luther King 'I have a dream' speech MORE (D-Ill.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDefense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Kennedy to challenge Markey in Senate primary Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists MORE (D-Mass.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE (R-Maine), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSen. Kaine: No reason for US to 'engage in military action to protect Saudi oil' Bolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine MORE (D-Va.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument MORE (D-Mass.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump faces difficult balancing act with reelection campaign Republicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE (R-Fla.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordDemocrats press for action on election security GOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank MORE (R-Okla.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranPompeo pressed on possible Senate run by Kansas media Jerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Olympic athletes in response to abuse scandals MORE (R-Kan.) are listed as cosponsors to the amendment.

 

UN NOMINEE GETS HEARING: Kelly Craft, President Trump's nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will get her confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has officially scheduled Craft for 10:15 a.m., according to a press advisory issued Monday.

Craft, currently the U.S. ambassador to Canada, would replace Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyJuan Williams: Why does Trump fear GOP voters? Can Carl DeMaio save the California GOP? Treasury: US deficit tops trillion in 11 months MORE, who resigned her post at the end of 2018. The position has remained vacant for six months.

Background: Trump announced plans to nominate Craft in February after his first choice, former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, abruptly withdrew from consideration after it was revealed she had employed a nanny who lacked proper authorization to work in the U.S. Craft was not officially nominated to the position until last month.

Craft is a Kentucky native and the wife of billionaire coal executive Joe Craft; both are influential Republican donors. She is likely to face some tough questions about her family's business interests and her views on climate change during her confirmation hearing, as well as questions about geopolitical issues from North Korea to Iran.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on the five years since the Ukrainian revolution at 2:30 p.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. https://bit.ly/2RkaMS5

Deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategy and acquisition reform Alexis Lasselle Ross will discuss the Army's new policy on intellectual property at 1:30 p.m. at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://bit.ly/2INKALR

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: US-Iran tensions rise: Five things to know about oil tanker attack

-- The Hill: Judge dismisses House lawsuit over border wall funding at their request

-- The Hill: Opinion: It's a mistake to send more US troops to Poland

-- The Hill: Opinion: The costs of confrontation with Iran are mounting

-- Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. preparing to send more troops to Middle East - sources

-- Associated Press: US: Iran should still comply with nuke deal Trump derided

-- Navy Times: With a new team of prosecutors, the Navy takes a final shot at SEAL Eddie Gallagher