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 TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' 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 Pompeo2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Netanyahu calls Trump administration reversal on Israeli settlements a 'huge achievement' UN pushes back on US reversal on Israeli settlements 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Five things to know about Tuesday's impeachment hearings McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' 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 CottonLawmakers spar over surveillance flight treaty with Russia GOP senator introduces bill to limit flow of US data to China Tom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas 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 Buttigieg2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Buttigieg surges to 10-point lead in New Hampshire: poll 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 DurbinSenators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Democratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement 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 UdallBureau of Land Management staff face relocation or resignation as agency moves west Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Hillicon Valley: Twitter to refuse all political ads | Trump camp blasts 'very dumb' decision | Ocasio-Cortez hails move | Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook's ad policies | GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill MORE (N.M.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry MORE (Vt.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans Booker introduces bill banning facial recognition tech in public housing Senate Democrat: Colleague was working on fantasy football trade instead of listening to Schumer MORE (Hawaii), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterTester: Our forefathers would not have tolerated Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing Veterans face growing threat from online disinformation MORE (Mont.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens Lawmakers spar over upcoming Sondland testimony Johnson: Whistleblower 'exposed things that didn't need to be exposed' 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 McCainConservative group cuts ties with Michelle Malkin Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters Donald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble 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 CoonsSenators press Facebook over user location tracking policies Senators introduce bipartisan bill restricting police use of facial recognition tech Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda MORE (D-Del.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Progressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry 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 Klobuchar2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders official predicts health care, climate change will be top issues in fifth Democratic debate Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock MORE (D-Minn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungTester: Our forefathers would not have tolerated Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Erdoğan at White House | Says Turkish leader has 'great relationship with the Kurds' | Highlights from first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ind.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDuckworth celebrates Veterans Day with deported veterans in Mexico Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation Nuclear command nominee sidesteps questions on arms control treaties MORE (D-Ill.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract House, Senate announce agreement on anti-robocall bill Democratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream MORE (D-Mass.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds MORE (R-Maine), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Senators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising MORE (D-Va.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE (D-Mass.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters Senators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action McConnell urges Trump to voice support for Hong Kong protesters MORE (R-Fla.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges On The Money: Lawmakers dismiss fears of another shutdown | Income for poorest Americans fell faster than thought | Net employment holds steady in September | Groups press Senate on retirement bill Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown MORE (R-Okla.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenate Democrats unveil priorities for federal privacy bill Microsoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate It's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number 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) HaleyTillerson: Using American aid for 'some kind of personal gain [is] wrong' Conway and Haley get into heated feud: 'You'll say anything to get the vice-presidential nomination' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Former Ukraine envoy offers dramatic testimony 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