IRAN 2020

State of play of EU-Iran relations and the future of the JCPOA The EU Directorate-General for External Policies has published a report on the state of play of EU-Iran relations and the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal.
The report focuses on how EU-Iran relations over the past three years have been impacted by US policy and the “maximum pressure” campaign, recognizing that efforts have been directed towards preserving the JCPOA at the expense of sectoral cooperation on issues such as the economy, regional conflicts, and human rights.

Between War and Peace: A Roadmap for U.S. Policy Toward Iran This new issue paper of the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) examines the sources of tension in the U.S.-Iran relationship. To help clarify the policy choices, ASPI lays out four alternative scenarios that could unfold in the period ahead, ranging from selective engagement to military escalation. The paper presents ten specific recommendations for U.S. policy toward Iran aimed at reviving diplomacy and lowering tensions on the nuclear issue while simultaneously challenging Iran over its destabilizing activities in the region.

US Sanctions Policy The Atlantic Council has published a report which assesses and criticises the Trump administration’s sanctions policy and makes recommendations for the Biden administration to fix what the author describes as “a bad feedback loop”.

Reconfiguring to Win the Innovation Race in the Intelligence Community This report represents the culmination of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Subcommittee on Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research efforts during the 116th Congress to understand how the Intelligence Community pursues innovation.

The U.S. Defense Industrial Base This report is the culmination of a collaboration between the National Security Institute (NSI) and Duco, where more than 100 top national security experts at NSI and Duco shared their insights on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as well as the broader state of United States national security and its geopolitical standing. The experts were asked to contribute to this project via a survey. This report summarizes the findings, trends, and key takeaways that emerged from the expert responses. Specifically, this report breaks down the trends in four sections: I) the double threat posed by China, II) the U.S. military advantage is under pressure from adversaries, III) the U.S. defense industrial base is vulnerable, and IV) the U.S. must maintain its military advantage.

Democratic Offense Against Disinformation According to the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), now is the time for the United States and Europe to devise a democratic offense against disinformation. A new CEPA report offers a more proactive approach to fighting foreign influence. By building up offensive cyber capabilities, imposing sanctions, and supporting free media, democracies around the world can successfully defend themselves against disinformation. 

America’s Use of Coercive Economic Statecraft In this new CNAS report,” Task Force coordinators and principal co-authors  outline the major findings from the work of the task force. The report discusses key trends in U.S. coercive economic statecraft and how policymakers can best continue to leverage American economic strength to meet national security goals. The authors conclude that “economic power, as an engine of national security, will form a basis for leverage for American leaders to advance foreign policy goals in an array of domains,” however, “experience suggests that coercive economic tools need to be deployed carefully.”

OFAC and FinCEN Communicate Ransomware Expectations in New Guidance On October 1, 2020, the US Treasury Department issued—in the form of advisories from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”)—important guidance on what victims of ransomware attacks, as well as financial institutions (particularly money services businesses and other companies that facilitate such payments), should consider when confronted with potential ransomware demands.

Reengaging Iran The international community may find Iran ready to consider a return to negotiations in 2021—regardless of the results in November’s presidential elections. Any U.S. administration seeking diplomatic engagement with Iran, however, will be forced to deal with a number of complicated challenges. In this CNAS report, experts outline a phased approach for engaging Iran in 2021 that takes into account both regional and nuclear issues.

Between War and Peace: A Roadmap for U.S. Policy Toward Iran This ASPI issue paper examines the sources of tension in the U.S.-Iran relationship. To help clarify the policy choices, the Asia Society Policy Institute lays out four alternative scenarios that could unfold in the period ahead, ranging from selective engagement to military escalation. The paper presents ten specific recommendations for U.S. policy toward Iran aimed at reviving diplomacy and lowering tensions on the nuclear issue while simultaneously challenging Iran over its destabilizing activities in the region.

Publication of Ransomware Advisory The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing an advisory to alert companies that engage with victims of ransomware attacks of the potential sanctions risks for facilitating ransomware payments. This advisory highlights OFAC’s designations of malicious cyber actors and those who facilitate ransomware transactions under its cyber-related sanctions program. It identifies U.S. government resources for reporting ransomware attacks and provides information on the factors OFAC generally considers when determining an appropriate enforcement response to an apparent violation, such as the existence, nature, and adequacy of a sanctions compliance program. The advisory also encourages financial institutions and other companies that engage with victims of ransomware attacks to report such attacks to and fully cooperate with law enforcement, as these will be considered significant mitigating factors.

NSA – Limiting Location Data Exposure The National Security Agency (NSA) released guidance that warned that mobile location data could pose a serious security threat for users if it were infiltrated by cyber hackers. The guidance was released specifically for Department of Defense (DOD) staff and others who have access to federal systems, but the NSA noted that it could be “useful to a wide range of users.” The agency made clear that location data can be tracked even when GPS and cellular data is turned off.

Reengaging Iran It appears unlikely that Iran will engage in diplomatic negotiations with President Donald Trump’s administration before the U.S. elections. However, the international community may find Iran ready to consider a return to negotiations in 2021—regardless of the results in November—either because of Iran’s interest in engaging a Biden administration or in an effort to avoid four more years of the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign.
This report lays out potential options for a new U.S. administration to engage Iran in 2021. Many of the ideas also can be adapted for a second term Trump administration as described at the end of this report.

Global Risks Report 2020 The 15th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report is published as critical risks are manifesting. The global economy is facing an increased risk of stagnation, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected, and fragmented cyberspace threatens the full potential of next-generation technologies — all while citizens worldwide protest political and economic conditions and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality. The challenges before us demand immediate collective action, but fractures within the global community appear to only be widening. Stakeholders need to act quickly and with purpose within an unsettled global landscape.

U.N. Ban on Iran Arms Transfers The Congressional Research Service updated their report on July 6, 2020.

Iran Sanctions The Congressional Research Service updated their report on April 14, 2020.

COVID-19: Potential Implications for International Security Environment—Overview of Issues and Further Reading for Congress The Congressional Research Service updated their report on June 29, 2020

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA): An Overview This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service and issued on March 10, 2020.

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission On March 11, 2020, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission released a report outlining a comprehensive strategy for defending the U.S. against major cyber-attacks. The Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC) was established in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 to “develop a consensus on a strategic approach to defending the United States in cyberspace against cyber-attacks of significant consequences.”

Targeting U.S. Technologies Feb. 25, 2020 – The DCSA Counterintelligence annual report, “Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Report of Foreign Targeting of Cleared Industry,” is now available. This product details and enumerates cleared industry’s reporting of suspicious contact reports that represent potential foreign intelligence entities attempts to illicitly acquire U.S. technologies resident in cleared industry. You can click the title of this article to read the report. You can read the 2019 report here.

2019 National Intelligence Strategy This National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) provides the Intelligence Community (IC) with strategic direction from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for the next four years. It supports the national security priorities outlined in the National Security Strategy as well as other national strategies. In executing the NIS, all IC activities must be responsive to national security priorities and must comply with the Constitution, applicable laws and statutes, and Congressional oversight requirements.