Fdd's overnight brief

July 1, 2020

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the United Nations Security Council to extend a five-year ban on conventional weapons trade with Iran that is set to expire in October, while his Iranian counterpart warned of dire consequences of such an action. – Wall Street Journal

An Iranian opposition journalist who played an active role in widespread protests that engulfed the country in 2017 and 2018 has been sentenced to death, Iranian authorities said on Tuesday, months after he disappeared in neighboring Iraq and ended up in his home country under murky conditions. – New York Times

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Tuesday for an arms embargo on Iran to be extended indefinitely, but his appeal fell flat at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China rejected it outright and close allies of the United States were ambivalent. – New York Times

An explosion from a gas leak in a medical clinic in northern Tehran killed 19 people, Iranian state TV reported Tuesday. Authorities initially said 13 people were dead, but Jalal Maleki, spokesman for the Tehran Fire Department, later told state TV that the toll had risen to 19. – Associated Press

Iran will reintroduce lockdown measures on one of its busiest port cities on the Persian Gulf following a major surge in coronavirus cases. – Bloomberg

President Trump “has no right to trigger” a United Nations Security Council mechanism to destroy the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by reinvoking sanctions, according to a senior Chinese diplomat, whose argument garnered European support. – Washington Examiner

If Pompeo was hoping to build an international consensus against Iran, the meeting was a disappointment. Many representatives at the meeting placed Iran and the United States on the same level, portraying both sides as threats to diplomacy. Germany accused the Trump administration of violating international law, and even the United Nations’ own undersecretary-general criticized Pompeo’s decisions. – The National Interest


The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon has vowed she won’t be silenced despite a court order banning media outlets from talking to her — a ruling that was slammed by some within the Lebanese government — after she criticized the country’s most powerful party amid an escalating financial crisis. – NBC

The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday accused an Arab Israeli woman living in Lebanon of working to recruit Israeli citizens as operatives for the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group. – Times of Israel

A group of senior MEPs have written to Priti Patel urging the UK to “play a vital role” in demanding that all EU member states recognise Hizbollah in its entirety as a terror organisation. – Telegraph


As ​the long Syrian war drags into its 10th year, conditions for Syrian civilians ​are ​deteriorating​ quickly, with rapid inflation and the coronavirus pandemic adding to their​ travails​. ​On Tuesday, donors met virtually in Brussels at a conference hosted by the European Union and United Nations to try to find the money to keep the poorest Syrians alive. – New York Times

The United Nations raised $7.7 billion in humanitarian aid on Tuesday for Syria, where nine years of war have displaced millions in a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by soaring food prices and the coronavirus crisis. – Reuters

Russian forces are encroaching on U.S. troop-controlled territory in eastern Syria — part of what officials say is a deliberate campaign to squeeze the U.S. military out of the region, according to two current U.S. officials and one former U.S. official. – Politico


The United States will continue working with Turkish companies producing some parts of F-35 fighter jets until 2022, Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu agency quoted a Pentagon spokeswoman as saying on Wednesday. – Reuters

Thousands of Turkish lawyers protested outside Istanbul’s main courthouse on Tuesday against a government plan to reform bar associations, saying it aims to silence dissent and will lead to politicisation of their profession. – Reuters

Turkey cannot re-export Russian-made Russian S-400 defence systems without Moscow’s permission, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a spokeswoman for Russia’s federal service for military-technical cooperation, Maria Vorobyova. – Reuters

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is moving toward overhauling Turkey’s attorney organizations, which have often scrapped with his administration over its record on issues including human rights and the separation of powers. – Bloomberg


Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin annexing parts of the occupied West Bank as early as Wednesday, but U.S. and Israeli officials say the country is unlikely to take any action on that date. – Wall Street Journal

As the annexation battle has built to a fever pitch in Israel — among activists and politicians, if not the general public — July 1 loomed as a possible decision day. Opposing camps squared off for weeks, trying to either force or stay Netanyahu’s hand. But on the eve of the big day, with the prime minister’s decision unknown (or unmade), activists on both sides remained baffled as to whether the next few days would mark a deadline or a starting line; a history-bending declaration or a silent moment of indecision. – Washington Post

Israel’s deputy premier has said West Bank annexations must wait, while allies and regional powers have condemned the project — but hours before his government can move forward, the prime minister’s plans remained unknown Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

A dozen Democratic lawmakers have signed onto a hotly debated letter spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that calls for placing conditions on aid to Israel if it moves forward with plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO. – Politico

Hamas fired a volley of rockets into the sea overnight Tuesday, according to Palestinian reports. Palestinian media referred to the rocket fire as a “warning” against plans to annex parts of the West Bank. – Ynet

Middle East & North Africa

Karen Young writes: Countering China as an economic power and alternate political and development model is a centerpiece of US national security policy. Countering China in the Middle East, however, has proven challenging due to inconsistencies within US policy and with the growing perception of China’s attractiveness to the region. – Al-Monitor

Ibrahim Jalal writes: Four urgent steps should be taken, in light of Yemen’s poor health infrastructure, alarming humanitarian crisis, rapidly spreading pandemic, and complex conflict landscape, marked by the Houthi weaponization of the coronavirus, the STC’s negligent behavior, and the fragility of the government. […]If the situation is left unaddressed, the death toll from the virus could reach or even surpass the total number killed in the conflict so far. – Middle East Institute

Shahla Al-Kli writes: While the challenges are indeed huge, al-Kadhimi and his cabinet enjoy significant public, regional,[5] and international support — especially from the United States. Such backing will be crucial in helping Iraq to manage the twin challenges of COVID-19 and the current economic crisis, as well as empowering the PM to continue his reform efforts. Al-Kadhimi understands that he has to act now to maintain the momentum — otherwise Iraq may lose what could be its last chance to save the country. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

The number of North Korean defectors arriving in South Korea hit an all time low in recent months, as border restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic made movement more difficult, the South’s Unification Ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should meet again before the U.S. presidential election in November, a Seoul official told reporters on Wednesday. – Reuters

North Korea has reopened schools, but has kept a ban on public gatherings and made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public places as part of its response to the coronavirus threat, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Wednesday. – Reuters


Beijing is requiring four U.S. media outlets to disclose detailed information about their China operations, in the latest move in a tit-for-tat media battle with the Trump administration. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday condemned China for approving controversial national security legislation that critics say will further strip Hong Kong’s autonomy. – The Hill

China will announce reciprocal curbs on U.S. media outlets in the country, the editor in chief of the Global Times newspaper said on Twitter on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally designated Chinese’s Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) as posing threats to U.S. national security, a declaration that bars U.S. firms from tapping an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies. – Reuters

U.S sanctions designed to restrict the ability of China’s Huawei to source advanced microchips for 5G equipment are likely to have an impact on the viability of the supplier for Britain, UK media secretary Oliver Dowden said. – Reuters

President Trump bemoaned China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic and said he is growing more upset with the country as the global health crisis wears on. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called for the State Department to investigate whether China’s campaign of forced birth control and abortion against the Uighur population constitutes genocide. – Washington Examiner

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that China was following through on its trade deal promises despite fears that the coronavirus pandemic could change China’s spending behavior. – Washington Examiner

Jochen Bittner writes: The West sorely needs to be more strategic. And there’s a way to get there: Take its two currently unsophisticated tracks — American anger and European friendliness — and combine them, subtly. So maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Leipzig meeting between Ms. Merkel and Mr. Xi were to be postponed. If it is China’s aim to drive a wedge between the West’s powers, then the West may want to hold its own summit on China first. – New York Times

Timothy P. Carney writes: Back in 2012, the Washington Post ran a 1,300-word news story on dissident Chen Guangcheng that somehow totally omitted the Chinese policies he was dissenting against. The piece didn’t include the words “sterilization,” “abortion,” one-child policy,” “family planning,” “contraception,” or “birth control.” This was typical of the Washington Post’s coverage at the time — most of its stories on Chen omitted forced abortion. CBS and Reuters avoided it too. Let’s not turn a blind eye to China’s inhumane behavior this time. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: China is trying to do in the Indo-Pacific what Imperial Japan did in the 1930s. As the Chinese Communist Party’s appetite and arrogance grow, so also will its desires. A line must be drawn straight through the middle of the nine-dash line. – Washington Examiner


The National Security Agency strongly dissented from other intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia paid bounties for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal

White House officials were first informed in early 2019 of intelligence reports that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition military personnel in Afghanistan, but the information was deemed sketchy and in need of additional confirmation, according to people familiar with the matter. – Washington Post

American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, evidence that supported their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, according to three officials familiar with the intelligence. – New York Times

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned the Taliban’s top political leader against attacking Americans in Afghanistan amid reports that Russia offered the militant group bounties for killing U.S. soldiers. – Politico

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of a reported Russian effort to pay the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, saying his actions were a “dereliction of duty.” – Reuters

Security sources are aware of a growing trend of deliberate killings, mostly unclaimed, in recent weeks that have also taken the lives of prosecutors, pro-government moderate religious preachers and the family of a political writer. They believe the Taliban or groups aligned with it are conducting a covert strategy to send chills through civil society and tear apart trust in democratic rule of law and human rights to weaken the government’s position in peace talks with the Taliban, likely to start mid-July. – Reuters

The Trump administration is arranging a closed-door briefing on Wednesday for the so-called Gang of Eight House and Senate leaders regarding reports that Russian operatives in Afghanistan offered bounties to kill American troops. – Bloomberg

In a statement, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization) has rejected media reports that Russia paid the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. It also argued that the Taliban raised the banner of jihad when America was the sole superpower after the end of the Cold War. – Middle East Media Research Institute

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said its findings indicate the Afghan military had mistakenly fired the mortars this week at a busy market in southern Helmand province that inflicted heavy civilian casualties. – Associated Press

Editorial: The intelligence reports, if true, demand a serious response. With Mr. Trump once again immobilized in the face of Russian provocation, Congress will have to step up. It could start by approving the long-pending Deter Act, aimed at discouraging Russian interference in this year’s election, and investigating the latest intelligence and U.S. nonresponse. – Washington Post

Asfandyar Mir writes: Some analysts suggest that Russia stepped up its involvement in Afghanistan due to a “perception of impunity” created by Trump’s soft attitude toward Russia. But the Russian role in Afghanistan has grown steadily since 2015, when Moscow started developing a relationship with the Taliban. Since then, senior Russian diplomats have publicly touted their contact with the group. – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: I suspect that, as time goes on — and now, thanks to the New York Times’s original reporting, the Russians have been spurred to chat about this plot — the intelligence community, the NSA included, will come to assess it as high-confidence credible. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

India’s decision to ban dozens of Chinese apps is a big setback for China’s top tech firms trying to replicate their remarkable domestic success globally, as they are now stymied in what many consider the world’s last great untapped digital market. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorisation to fly to the bloc for six months, the airline said on Tuesday, a blow to the carrier’s operations. – Reuters

Indian startups with Chinese funding and Chinese smartphone makers are actively touting their Indian-ness to users as they seek to address a growing wave of nationalism following a deadly border clash between the two countries earlier this month. – Reuters

The British-born man convicted in the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is likely to walk out of jail a free man this week following a surprising ruling by Pakistan’s supreme court. – Fox News

Debalina Ghoshal writes: China will surely pursue a strategy of information dominance in the game of “offence-defense” balance[…]. Hence, it’s not just that India’s air defense systems needs to be protected from being destroyed by adversaries, and not just that its air defense systems need to be robust against any hacking, but utmost care should be taken so the OODA loop is not compromised. Only then can India ensure a combat advantage from both offensive and defensive postures. – C4ISRNET


Lawmakers of both parties launched a bill to give refugee status to Hong Kong residents at risk of persecution under the Chinese territory’s new national-security law, which local rights activists and many Western countries have decried as a tool for Beijing to suppress civil liberties in the semiautonomous city-state. – Wall Street Journal

China rolled back the autonomy of Hong Kong’s governance that’s been in place since the city’s handover from British colonial rule, with the imposition of a new law that gives Beijing a much stronger hand in policing the city and safeguarding its own authority. – Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong has become a key flashpoint in what some see as an emerging cold war between the U.S. and China. Exhibit A is Beijing’s decision to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and impose new national-security legislation on the city to stamp out a yearlong protest movement. […]Here’s how we got to this point. – Wall Street Journal

Australia is overhauling its military to create a larger, more aggressive force focused on the Indo-Pacific as it seeks to counterbalance China’s growing influence and military power in the region. – Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong police made their first arrest under a new national security law imposed by China’s central government, arresting a protester Wednesday for carrying a flag calling for Hong Kong’s independence. – Associated Press

Australia’s defence force is set to acquire long-range missiles and research hypersonic weapons systems, as Scott Morrison warns the country to prepare for a more dangerous post-Covid-19 world and an increasingly contested Indo-Pacific region. – The Guardian

Taiwan opened an office on Wednesday to help people fleeing Hong Kong after China imposed new national security laws in the city, with a senior minister saying Taiwan hoped to seize the opportunity to attract professionals and capital from the city. – Reuters

Japan and Britain aim to clinch a trade deal by the end of July and Tokyo wants to secure at least the same automobile tariffs as it has in its existing European Union trade pact, Tokyo’s chief negotiator said. – Reuters

The United Nations human rights chief said on Tuesday that up to 10,000 people had fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state after what she described as heavy fighting in the past week between government troops and ethnic insurgents. – Reuters

The House and the Senate agree they need to prioritize the Indo-Pacific region in their annual defense policy and spending bills. They don’t quite agree on how far to go in doing that, but an overriding sense that they need to start somewhere this year will likely get them to the creation of a Indo-Pacific fund to counter China, akin to the European Deterrence Initiative created in 2014 to push back against Russia. – USNI News

The Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift helicopter, intended to play a vital role in the service’s plans for sea-based operations in the Pacific, just wrapped up its sea trials and will tackle hot-weather training next. – Military.com

David Fickling and Nisha Gopalan write: What has made Hong Kong unique for nearly two centuries has been its role as a trading post, directing goods and capital to and from the mainland of China and around the region and collecting a toll each time. Increasingly, it’s likely to turn into something more like a bank vault under the watchful eye of Beijing. Hong Kong’s days as a capital of capital are fading. – Bloomberg


Russians voted for a final day Wednesday on constitutional changes that would reset presidential term limits and give Vladimir Putin the chance to stay in office until 2036. The amendments—the most significant overhaul of the country’s basic law since Russia emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1991—appeared headed for passage by a wide margin. – Wall Street Journal

When it comes to Russia, the Trump administration just can’t seem to make up its mind. For the past three years, the administration has careered between President Donald Trump’s attempts to curry favor and friendship with Vladimir Putin and longstanding deep-seated concerns about Putin’s intentions. As Trump has repeatedly and openly cozied up to Putin, his administration has imposed harsh and meaningful sanctions and penalties on Russia. – Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday the United States should consider economic sanctions on Russia as part of a strong U.S. response if it is true that Moscow offered bounty payments to Taliban forces for killing Americans in Afghanistan. – Reuters

Editorial: Concern about deals Mr. Trump might strike with Mr. Putin in a second term is legitimate. If only we could trust that Mr. Biden would be any better, and he might be worse. – Wall Street Journal

Becket Adams writes: With the reemergence of a news story involving the Russians, Trump, and an alleged abdication of presidential duties, Democrats and their allies in the news media are again promoting a variety of conspiracy theories alleging Moscow secretly controls the White House. – Washington Examiner

Dalibor Rohac and Melissa Hooper write: In the United States, the reports of such crackdowns in Russia and elsewhere have barely registered[…]. The bipartisan Protecting Human Rights During Pandemic Act, introduced in the Senate with a parallel version in the House, can get the United States back into the game of defending democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. If adopted, the bill would require the State Department and United States Agency for International Development to prepare an explicit strategy for democracy promotion and respond to the authoritarian practices and human rights abuses around the world that occur in the pandemic. – The Hill


A young Black man was tortured and killed on a remote island in Denmark by two white men with known far-right affiliations, one of them with a swastika tattoo on his leg, but the authorities are refusing to call it a hate crime. – New York Times

U.S. lawmakers including prominent Republicans are preparing legislative efforts to block President Trump from withdrawing U.S. troops from Germany. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump has approved a Pentagon plan to fulfill his order to move 9,500 U.S. troops out of Germany, the Defense Department said Tuesday. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement that Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley briefed Trump on plans Monday to “redeploy” the troops. – The Hill

Germany’s defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will dissolve part of the country’s special forces and restructure the elite military division, after some of its members were found to have radical rightwing sympathies. – Financial Times

Britain and some two dozen Western countries urged China on Tuesday to reconsider its new national security law for Hong Kong, saying Beijing must preserve the right to assembly and free press in the former British colony. – Reuters

An advanced U.S. attack submarine and guided-missile destroyer are among the forces participating in the NATO anti-submarine warfare exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2020, which kicked off this week off Iceland. – USNI News


King Philippe of Belgium on Tuesday expressed his “deepest regrets” for his country’s brutal past in a letter to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first public acknowledgment from a member of the Belgian royal family of the devastating human and financial toll during eight decades of colonization. – New York Times

Sahel countries and their ally France on Tuesday vowed to press ahead with a tactical shift in their campaign against an eight-year-old jihadist insurgency, saying the change had notched up substantial gains although major challenges also remain. – Agence France-Presse

One person was killed and several others injured during largely peaceful demonstrations in Sudan on Tuesday, a government spokesman said, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets demanding faster reform and greater civilian rule in the country’s transition towards democracy. – Reuters

European forces will takeover from French troops fighting Islamist insurgents in West Africa within weeks, President Emmanuel Macron said amid criticism over the former colonial power’s role in the region. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro says he needs the gold to help his cash-starved nation fight the coronavirus pandemic. But the central bank for the United Kingdom, whose government recognizes Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as his country’s legitimate leader, has refused to hand it over to Maduro’s socialist administration. – Associated Press

Venezuela will boost the number of seats in its National Assembly by two-thirds to 277 for the 2021-2026 period, the head of the country’s electoral authority said, ahead of an election the opposition says President Nicolas Maduro is trying to rig. – Reuters

The European Union condemned on Tuesday a decision by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to expel the bloc’s envoy, calling for Caracas to reverse its move and summoning Venezuela’s ambassador to EU headquarters. – Reuters

Russia on Tuesday disclosed terms of a previously agreed debt restructuring with Venezuela that show annual payments from Caracas to Moscow increase five fold starting in 2023. – Reuters

For two months, the Malta-flagged oil tanker Alkimos has been quietly floating off the Gulf Coast of Texas, undisturbed by the high-stakes legal fight playing out in a federal courtroom as a result of American sanctions on Venezuela – Associated Press

North America

A visit by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to Washington to meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump has been planned for around the middle of next week, two sources familiar with the matter said. – Reuters

On June 29, 2020 Al-Qaeda’s general leadership issued a letter addressing “the vulnerable people” of the U.S. and the West in general, in light of the current protests and unrest in the U.S. and Europe following the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Ryan C. Berg writes: The United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) takes effect on Wednesday. After years of intense negotiations, cajoling, and sometimes outright intimidation, the Trump administration’s signature trade negotiation replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) heads for implementation. […]USMCA’s implementation comes at a time of heightened uncertainty for Mexico’s economic and security prospects. Quite simply, under AMLO’s leadership, the country is the least poised of the three partner nations to take advantage of the coming upgrade in trade benefits. – American Enterprise Institute


The Senate Armed Services Committee is taking aim at an Army cyber program by effectively taking away funding, arguing the effort is redundant when compared to another program under development for Cyber Command and the joint cyber force. – C4ISRNET

The Senate Armed Services Committee is concerned there isn’t sufficient oversight over U.S. Cyber Command’s capability and platform development. – C4ISRNET

Naval Information Warfare Systems Command plans to deploy technology that will certify a ship’s compliance with cybersecurity requirements to 180 vessels by fiscal 2022. – C4ISRNET

Brandon Shopp writes: At the end of the day, efficiency is what the Digital Air Force is all about—getting information to pilots more efficiently, so they can make decisions in the blink of an eye. Securing this information and monitoring the network so it’s operating at top speed, are critical to the initiative’s ability to take flight. – C4ISRNET


The reliance on defense contractors, once touted as a way to reduce costs and improve quality of services for the military, has instead led to a glut of spending, the study concluded. More than half of the defense budget last year — $370 billion — was spent on all contractor efforts, from weapons to services, according to the study. There is also a concern that the reliance on private military contractors has blunted the public’s understanding of the human cost of America’s unprecedented long-term deployments. – Washington Post

Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully blasted a U.S. Space Force satellite into orbit and then recovered the main portion of the Falcon 9 rocket, in the first military mission incorporating the reusable feature which has become a hallmark of the company’s commercial and civilian government launches. – Wall Street Journal

The current House defense policy bill contains a cluster of provisions to improve opportunities for minorities in the armed forces — measures that House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said are a top priority for passage. – Military.com

The best way to counter China’s and Russia’s high-tech advances is to change the Pentagon’s and Congress’ risk-aversion culture and embrace quicker – but still robust – testing and fielding of programs, a senior defense official said Tuesday. – USNI News

The U.S. Air Force’s long-planned test of an airborne laser weapon aboard a fighter jet has been delayed until 2023 due to technical challenges and complications spurred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, its program head said. – Defense News

Many of the U.S. Air Force’s space acquisition organizations will be moved into a brand-new “Space Systems Command” to be created under the fledgling Space Force, but it still remains nebulous whether space procurement arms from the Army, Navy and Pentagon will also fall under the command’s purview. – Defense News

Delayed from an April launch date in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the third GPS III satellite was launched into orbit June 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. – C4ISRNET

Leonardo DRS has won a $104 million contract to deliver next-generation mission command computing systems to the Army, the company announced June 30. – C4ISRNET

The Senate Armed Services Committee has proposed a radical change to how the nuclear weapons budget is formed every year, one which would give the Department of Defense a far stronger hand in crafting the funding for nuclear issues. – Defense News

Trump Administration

President Trump’s allies were in pursuit of a tantalizing prospect last year: tape recordings of Joe Biden speaking to Ukrainian officials while he was vice president, conversations they believed could help them damage Biden’s current bid for the White House. – Washington Post

An adviser to Ukraine’s president called it the country’s national sport: the release over the years of tapes of secretly recorded conversations that has smeared presidents, exposed killings, disgraced judges and forced tycoons to flee into exile. In the most recent flap, Joe Biden’s conversations as vice president with Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko were released in May and a second batch in June. They were peddled by a Ukrainian lawmaker who has ties to President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who visited Ukraine last year to dig up dirt on Biden. – Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s campaign has named Jeff DeWit as its chief operating officer, replacing Michael Glassner, less than five months before the election and as polls show him lagging his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. – Bloomberg

A Democratic senator is demanding answers from President Donald Trump’s top China trade adviser on allegations that Trump sought Beijing’s help in boosting his re-election chances. – Bloomberg

A Democratic House impeachment counsel is writing a book about the impeachment of President Trump that is set to be released next month. […]Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House after accusations that he improperly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. – Washington Examiner