Fdd's overnight brief

March 4, 2020

In The News


Iran’s growing stockpile of nuclear fuel recently crossed a critical threshold, according to a report issued Tuesday by international inspectors: For the first time since President Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran appears to have enough enriched uranium to produce a single nuclear weapon, though it would take months or years to manufacture a warhead and deliver it over long distances. – New York Times

Iran risks triggering a new crisis if it does not cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog after failing to answer its questions about past nuclear activities at three sites and denying it access to two of them, its chief said on Tuesday. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday called on Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with international nuclear watchdog IAEA. – Reuters

Jailed British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in good health, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday, after her husband said on Saturday he believed she had contracted the coronavirus in prison. – Reuters

Human rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday accused the Iranian security forces of killing 23 children, mostly with live ammunition, during a November crackdown on anti-government protests. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian officials have obstructed efforts to clarify past nuclear activities, the United Nations atomic watchdog said in a finding that threatens to further hinder international efforts to salvage what’s left of the nation’s 2015 deal. – Bloomberg

The former world champion in judo who fled Iran last year in a dispute over competing against Israelis has been cleared to represent a new nation ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Saeid Mollaei’s change of nationality to Mongolia from refugee status was approved Tuesday by the International Olympic Committee. – Associated Press

Kuwait Port Authority manager Sheikh Yousef Abdullah al-Nasser al-Sabah said on Tuesday that Doha port was closed to avoid interacting with ship crews coming from Iran. – Reuters

Editorial: The strict sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran have been severely crimping its economy, and the outbreak ought to lead U.S. officials to look for ways to extend humanitarian relief and expertise in fighting the disease. As the world has seen, coronavirus unchecked anywhere is a danger everywhere. – Washington Post

Eli Lake writes: These are important questions both for Trump, who has said he hopes to renegotiate a better nuclear deal, and for Democratic presidential candidates, who have pledged to re-enter the old one. Whoever wins the election in November, he should make sure the next nuclear deal with Iran requires the regime to fully account for its secret nuclear history. – Bloomberg


Hezbollah believes that terms required by any IMF bailout package for Lebanon would spark “a popular revolution”, a senior official said on Tuesday, rejecting such a step and calling instead for a “national solution” to a deep economic crisis. – Reuters

Proposals are still being floated for Lebanon’s looming Eurobond maturities, including an idea from the finance minister to swap local banks’ holdings for new lower-interest bonds and keep paying the debt, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.[…] On Tuesday, the newspaper quoted a senior aide to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri as saying his Amal party was against repaying the debt. Berri is one of the most influential figures in the country and his party, which is allied with Iran-backed Hezbollah, named the finance minister in the current cabinet. – Reuters

Bilal Y. Saab writes: If Hezbollah’s fortunes in Lebanon and the region improve, so will those of Iran. The Trump administration is doing everything it can to weaken Tehran and force it to come to the negotiating table. But if Iran is allowed to control Lebanon unchallenged, it will gain an important lifeline and thus be able to more effectively counter US policy. – The National


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told fellow conservative lawmakers that she is in favor of setting up safety zones in northern Syria where Turkey is in a deepening standoff with Russia, two participants at the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday. – Reuters

France’s foreign minister on Tuesday accused the Syrian government and Russia of probably carrying out war crimes in their offensive in northwestern Syrian and said Paris would document them. – Reuters

Ishtar Al Shami writes: With focus likely to shift towards a question of how Europe’s most recent response to Syria’s ongoing major humanitarian crisis, the profiteering of those on the ground should not be ignored. In the meantime, Syrians facing one of the worst humanitarian crises since the beginning of the war remain trapped, one way or another. – Washington Institute


A day after an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, he received a supportive phone call from a surprising source. Russian President Vladimir Putin reached out even before Turkey’s Western allies. – Washington Post

As Turkey launches a military operation against the Syrian government, the U.S. is making a show of support for a NATO ally but stopping short of delivering weapons requested by Ankara. – Wall Street Journal

Two more Turkish soldiers have been killed and six wounded in an attack by Syrian government forces in northwest Syria’s Idlib region, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russia on Tuesday said that Turkey was trying to push 130,000 refugees from Syria into Greece, the Interfax news agency cited the Defence Ministry as saying. – Reuters

European Council President Charles Michel Tuesday called on Turkey to respect a 2016 deal with the European Union in which it agreed to contain the flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for billions of euros in aid. – Reuters


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved quickly Tuesday to take advantage of his strong showing in Israel’s election, signaling a willingness to negotiate with almost any politician as he races to form a government before his corruption trial begins in two weeks. – Washington Post

Israel’s Arab parties looked poised on Tuesday for their largest-ever representation in parliament, propelled by what analysts say is anger toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his U.S. allies. – Reuters

In a February 24, 2020 article headlined “If I Were Palestinian” in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian author and journalist Khalid Al-Bari compared the Palestinians’ perception of their cause to the misdiagnosis of a disease, which not only fails to solve the problem but actually aggravates it. He called on them to assess their situation objectively in order to attain a solution that will afford them a dignified life. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Veteran Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey aimed a swipe at presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ boycott of AIPAC’s 2020 conference in Washington, DC, telling the pro-Israel group on Tuesday morning that he was proud to be addressing it. – Algemeiner

The Health Ministry denied claims by one of its consultants that Israel is considering quarantining visitors from the United States. “It is not currently on the agenda,” a spokesperson for the ministry told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post

Gershom Gorenberg writes: Meanwhile, if Netanyahu manages to put together a coalition, Israel’s slide toward ever more illiberal democracy continues. If he does not, we may well face a fourth election. Hope has taken a beating. Despair, though, is useless. It’s paralyzing. Netanyahu did not win an outright victory. Let’s hope that in the next round, his opponents learn from their mistakes. – Washington Post

Elior Levy writes: The Palestinian Authority had hoped a change in Israeli leadership would ensure no one-sided moves to annex the settlements and Jordan Valley, while Hamas preferred the ‘devil you know’. – Ynet

Daniel Gordis writes: Netanyahu is not going to change on this issue, but he will not rule forever. And to a large extent, what Israel eventually becomes may depend on how his successor responds to an Arab minority that might well be indicating that it wants to end its marginalization and embrace Israeli citizenship and the opportunities it provides. – Bloomberg


Now, it might be Sadr who extinguishes their fight. A flurry of statements from the cleric in recent months has fractured the movement, prompting accusations of betrayal. He has pulled his supporters away from protest camps and then sent those followers back to battle those who remained. – Washington Post

The U.N. envoy for Iraq warned Tuesday that the country and its people are being “pushed into the unknown” by political indecisiveness and dissent that is continuing to paralyze government decision-making. – Associated Press

Afraid that their grip on Iraq is loosening, the Iran-backed factions and politicians are attempting to marginalize all the powers in Iraq that could counterbalance Iran – including Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani – in order to secure a prime ministerial candidate who is loyal to Iran at any cost. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Bobby Ghosh writes: Back in December, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s senior-most Shiite cleric, said that early elections were the only way out of the political impasse. A few days later, the parliament approved an electoral law that would allow Iraqis to vote for individual candidates, instead of party slates. This change holds out the prospect of a new generation of politicians, answerable to their voters, not beholden to sectarian political factions. – Bloomberg

Arabian Peninsula

Senior Republican and Democratic lawmakers renewed efforts this week to push President Donald Trump’s administration to make public information about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which U.S. intelligence officials blame on Saudi Arabia’s most senior leadership. – Reuters

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has applied to Britain’s top court to try to stop publication of two judgments given in a legal battle with his former wife over the wardship of their two children. – Reuters

Bobby Ghosh writes: Will the new monarch stick to his resolve to reform the economy, or lapse into the habits that made those reforms necessary? As I wrote when Haitham was named sultan, Qaboos left him with both a blessing and a curse. Both are already on full display. – Bloomberg

Nadwa Al-Dawsari writes: It’s been almost five years since the Saudi-led coalition launched its military campaign in Yemen. Desperate to end the war, the kingdom has recently started negotiating with the Houthis. […]Ending the war in Yemen would necessarily require strengthening and unifying the command and control structure of the Yemeni forces to counter and curb the Houthis’ appetite to expand beyond the north. The Saudis need to use their leverage to achieve that. Serious action must be taken immediately and urgently to stop the Houthis’ military advance toward Marib. If it is not stopped, Saudi Arabia risks a more destabilized and fragmented Yemen where an Iran-backed militia will continue to pose a threat to its own southern border and the wider region. – Middle East Institute


Economic fallout continues from a protracted blockade of Libya’s vital oil fields and ports, with losses close to $2.6 billion, the national oil corporation announced Tuesday, intensifying the pressure on a U.N.-supported government in the capital. – Associated Press

The only functioning airport in the Libyan capital said late on Tuesday that it was shifting all flights to the town of Misrata due to shelling in the area following an escalation in fighting over recent days. – Reuters

Libya’s eastern-based government linked to military commander Khalifa Haftar opened an embassy in Syria on Tuesday and called for the two countries to unite in their common fight against Turkey-backed militant groups. – Reuters

Korean Peninsula

As the epidemic grips China to the north and spreads quickly in South Korea on the other side of the demilitarized zone, North Korea’s separation from the global economy presents a rare advantage. – Washington Post

In her first known official statement, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leveled diatribes and insults against rival South Korea for protesting her country’s latest live-fire exercises. Associated Press

In these days of infection and fear, a recent propaganda photo sums up the image North Korea wants to show the world, as well as its people: Soldiers with black surgical masks surround leader Kim Jong Un, ensconced in a leather overcoat and without a mask as he oversees a defiant military drill. – Associated Press

For several months last year, a steady stream of ships was observed dredging sand in a North Korean bay then transporting loads of it to China, a Washington-based think-tank said on Wednesday. – Reuters

North Korea fired two presumed short-range ballistic missiles into its eastern sea on Monday, South Korean officials said, resuming weapons demonstrations after a months-long hiatus that may have been forced by the coronavirus crisis in Asia. – Military Times


Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe discussed the coronavirus situation in China with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday in a telephone call, China’s defense ministry said. – Reuters

SoftBank-backed startup CloudMinds has been blocked from sharing U.S.-origin technology with its China business, documents showed, illustrating how increased U.S. government restrictions are creating new headaches for tech firms and their investors. – Reuters

Chinese social media platforms began censoring references to coronavirus and keywords critical of the government’s handling of the infection as early as December, Toronto-based cyber research group Citizen Lab said in a report on Tuesday. – Reuters


The U.S. military in Afghanistan carried out an airstrike Wednesday against Taliban militants, the first since the Trump administration signed a deal with the militant group aimed at extricating America from 18 years of war. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump said he spoke to the Taliban’s co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Tuesday to discuss the implementation of the deal signed over the weekend to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, according to statements released afterward. – Wall Street Journal

The Taliban is willing to meet Afghan officials but only on the question of releasing prisoners, the militant group said on Tuesday, as diplomats raised concern that a deadlock over the issue could jeopardize the Afghan peace process. – Reuters

Five Afghan policemen died in a Taliban attack on a security checkpoint near a copper mine on Tuesday, officials in the region said, a day after the insurgents decided to resume operations against local forces. – Reuters

Rep. Liz Cheney said she has not yet seen any classified documents to back up Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claim that the Taliban has committed to breaking with al Qaeda. – Washington Examiner


President Vladimir V. Putin has proposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in what political analysts suggest is an effort to raise turnout for a constitutional referendum that could keep him in power but has so far stirred little enthusiasm among Russians.New York Times

Alexei Navalny — Zakhar’s father and Russia’s main opposition leader — and his Anti-Corruption Foundation are under attack by Russian authorities, which last year designated the group a foreign agent and accused it of money laundering. – Washington Post

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday that fortified rebel positions in Syria’s Idlib province had merged with Turkish observation posts, and that artillery attacks on nearby civilian areas and Russia’s air base in Syria had become daily. – Reuters

Russia’s communications regulator on Tuesday accused the BBC World News channel of flouting Russian broadcasting rules and said a court would hear its detailed complaints later this month. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to hold a meeting of the U.N Security Council’s five permanent members, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Tuesday. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin wants to amend the constitution to make it illegal for Russia to give away any part of its territory to a foreign power, a proposal likely to irritate Japan and Ukraine that have territorial disputes with Moscow. – Reuters

U.S. officials said they are delighted to see protesters assemble in Moscow to commemorate the murder of an arch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We see that as a sign that the people of Russia are not just really being satisfied to remain silent but are interested in having a more robust democratic process within their country,” said Jim Gilmore, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. –  Washington Examiner

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia has developed unique offense weapons without the intention of starting a war with anyone but to maintain “strategic balance” and “strategic stability” in the world. – Military Times


Pope Pius XII, who led the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, has long been criticized for his public silence during the Holocaust. Critics have argued he also did nothing behind the scenes to stop Nazi atrocities; supporters have claimed he secretly ordered Catholics all over Europe, such as young seminarian Wojtyla, to save thousands of Jews. Now, the Vatican is opening its archives to researchers, who hope to settle the question for good. – Washington Post

Lawmakers in Ukraine said Tuesday the parliament is gearing up for a vote to accept the resignation of the nation’s prime minister. – Associated Press

Slovenia’s lawmakers on Tuesday backed an anti-immigrant politician to become the new prime minister, setting the stage for the formation of a right-leaning government in the small European Union country. – Associated Press

European Union officials on Tuesday promised more cash for Greece during a visit to its border with Turkey which tens of thousands of migrants and refugees have been trying for days to breach. – Reuters

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Tuesday he hoped for a swift resolution to prevent a resurgence of the migrant crisis after Turkey relaxed curbs on the movement of thousands of asylum seekers now seeking entry to the EU. – Reuters

A jailed Catalan separatist leader elected to the European Parliament while behind bars cannot serve as an EU lawmaker or enjoy immunity while his case is heard by the European Union Court of Justice, another EU court said on Tuesday. – Reuters

In an ugly standoff, which continued for about an hour on Sunday, about 20 locals on the Greek island of Lesbos jeered the migrants and kept pushing their dinghy away from the quay. – Reuters

Belarus began holding joint military drills with 28 British Marines at a training ground in the north of the country this week at a time when relations with its traditional ally Russia are under strain. – Reuters

A war of words between Ankara and Athens over the migrant crisis escalated on Tuesday when Turkey’s foreign minister said without providing evidence that Greek soldiers had killed three migrants attempting to enter the country, a claim denied by Greece. – Reuters

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday urged European Union countries to provide more support to Greece as it faces a new wave of migrants and refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. – Reuters

Germany has discovered eight right-wing radicals in its armed forces and 27 individuals who have reservations about the constitution, according to a report commissioned to help root out extremism in the military after a scandal in 2017. – Reuters


Togo’s Constitutional Court announced final results Tuesday, confirming the country’s president easily won a fourth term, extending the grip his family has had on power since 1967 as the opposition alleged fraud. – Associated Press

A dozen soldiers have occupied the grounds of Guinea-Bissau’s Supreme Court, the court said on Tuesday, deepening a post-election crisis that has resulted in the appointment of rival presidents and the silencing of state media. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump told Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday that Washington will keep up efforts for a deal among Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over a dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile, Egypt’s presidency said. – Reuters

Jim Inhofe writes: Esper also understands that Africa plays a key role in our national security — particularly when it comes to combating the growing threat of terrorism on the continent. So I hope it’s as plain to him as it is to me: A true “right sizing” of U.S. forces in Africa should result in an increase in personnel and support, not a decrease. – Washington Post

The Americas

U.S. prosecutors say the president of Honduras took a $25,000 bribe years ago from an alleged cocaine trafficker now in federal custody, a startling development that could complicate relations between the two countries. – Washington Post

Bolivian former President Evo Morales, who resigned last year under pressure from the military, says he is confident his political party will win re-run elections scheduled for May, but fears they will be fraudulent or followed by a coup. – Reuters

The Spanish government approved on Tuesday the extradition of Venezuela’s former military intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal to the United States where he faces charges of drug and weapon trafficking. – Reuters

A resurgence of violence ripped across Chile late on Monday evening, leading to hundreds of arrests, according to the interior ministry, and temporarily shutting down some public transportation in the capital Santiago. – Reuters


A bipartisan trio of U.S. senators pushed again for answers on Google’s controversial “Project Nightingale,” saying the search giant evaded requests for details on its far-reaching data tie-up with health giant Ascension. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese anti virus firm Qihoo 360 said CIA hackers have spent more than a decade breaking into the Chinese airline industry and other targets, a blunt allegation of American espionage from a Beijing-based firm. – Reuters

Facebook Inc. and its partners are considering redesigning the Libra cryptocurrency project so that the network accepts multiple coins, including those issued by central banks, in an effort to woo reluctant global regulators and rebuild momentum for the plan. – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump told top House and Senate Republicans on Tuesday evening that he would not support a clean extension of federal surveillance powers and called for them to work out a deal with Democrats on how to move forward. – Politico

Peraton will receive $219 million to provide satellite communications fpr US Africa Command, the company announced. Mar. 3. – C4ISRNET

Top U.S. Air Force officials doubled down March 3 on the message that the Pentagon will not vacate airwaves that telecom firms want in their race with China to build the next-generation mobile networks, known as 5G. – C4ISRNET

Following the release of the first version of new cybersecurity standards for contractors bidding on programs, the Department of Defense is focusing on international adoption of the framework. – Fifth Domain

When a division of Marines deployed across a wide swath of the Southwest during a recent live-fire field exercise, the Navy’s new satellite communication system helped close a command and control gap that’s often-vexed commanders and their subordinate units. – USNI News


The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $2.4 billion sale of eight KC-46 refueling tanker jets to Israel, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Tuesday in an official notification to Congress. – Reuters

Weeks before a government commission weighs in on the subject, a federal appeals court panel was urged Tuesday to rule unconstitutional the military’s all-male draft registration system. – Associated Press

Nearly all the engines ordered for the next-generation F-35 jet were delivered late last year as the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp. struggled to solve nagging difficulties with parts and suppliers, according to the Pentagon. – Bloomberg

After dropping a brief teaser trailer several weeks ago on social media with split-second glimpses of shadowy outlines of its offering to the U.S. Army’ Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft competition, Boeing prompted plenty of speculation on its design. – Defense News

The Air Force now believes a correction for the Boeing KC-46 tanker’s major technical problem won’t be available until at least 2023, forecasting a one-year delay to previous estimates, its top general said Tuesday. – Defense News

The Department of Defense has launched a deep dive study into the industrial base for hypersonic weapons, in order to understand the weak spots in America’s drive towards the high-speed offensive and defensive technology. – Defense News

Members of Congress used a hearing Tuesday to question whether the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous arm of the Department of Energy which handles development of nuclear warheads, can spend an almost 20 percent funding increase requested by the Trump administration. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy’s four guided-missile destroyers in Rota, Spain, could soon get company. Senior U.S. military officials are pushing hard to get two more destroyers forward-deployed in Europe, and the move appears to have the support of top Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee. – Defense News

The Navy and Marine Corps are caught in a battle with Pentagon leadership over the right force size to aim for and how quickly to try to get there, but the top officers in the sea services insist that everyone is on the same page about maintaining wholeness and readiness as the service grows. – USNI News

The Mediterranean Sea has a host of security challenges: Russian submarine activity in the Eastern Med, instability in Syria and Libya, as well as the flow of migrants and illicit traffic throughout the region. The Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is tasked with addressing them all. – USNI News

The Education for Seapower Strategy was released this week and outlines the Department of the Navy’s effort to revitalize the way it educates sailors and Marines. – USNI News

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is expected to pull into Da Nang, Vietnam, for a port visit this week, U.S Indo-Pacific commander Adm. Phil Davidson confirmed on Tuesday. – USNI News

U.S. Army and Marine Corps snipers soon will be armed with a new multi-caliber sniper rifle — chosen by U.S. Special Operations Command — that’s designed to kill enemy personnel and pierce soft-skinned vehicles. – Military.com

Two female corporals have completed a course that allows them to lead teams that operate some of the heaviest and most destructive artillery pieces in Marine ground-combat units. – Military.com

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told lawmakers Tuesday that many casualties from tactical vehicle rollover accidents could have been prevented if soldiers had been wearing their seat belts. – Military.com

A Marine Reserve officer was removed from his job last month in what his command called “the best interest of the unit.” Lt. Col. Kyle Ditto was relieved of his duties as commanding officer of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his squadron,” said Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a spokesman for Marine Forces Reserve. – Military.com

Capt. Kristin “Beo” Wolfe of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, was recently inducted as the new team commander for the 2020-2021 air show season, the service announced Monday. She is the first woman to command the team and follows Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, who was the first solo F-35 performer for the team out of Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. – Military.com

The U.S. Space Force is just 75 days old, but it has already narrowed down a tight list of 16 military job specialties that it will own, the director of Space Force Planning said Tuesday. – Military.com

The sixth and newest U.S. military service may also be the one most appealing to and inclusive of women. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clinton Crosier, director of planning for U.S. Space Force, said the service is actively seeking ways to incorporate policies that allow for career flexibility and generous family and caregiver leave, and create a culture of equality and inclusion. – Military.com

Commandant Gen. David Berger has instructed his staff to look at raising the bar on a test score used to weed out new recruits. In the next six months, the Marine Corps could require all incoming recruits to score at least a 40 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test — a nine-point jump over what’s needed to enlist today, according to a copy of the memo, obtained by Military.com. – Military.com

The Texas site where elite airmen begin their special tactics training is being renamed for Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. John A. Chapman, a combat controller killed fighting militants early in the Afghan War. – Stars and Stripes

Long War

New Zealand police said on Wednesday they have stepped up patrols at two mosques ahead of the first anniversary of a shooting that killed 51 worshippers, after a distressing image linked to one of the mosques appeared on social media. – Reuters

Russia will not stop fighting terrorism in Syria’s Idlib region in order to solve Europe’s migration crisis, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday at a news conference alongside his Finnish counterpart in Helsinki. – Reuters

Rafael Mariano Grossi writes: This report of the Director General to the Board of Governors and, in parallel, to the United Nations Security Council (Security Council), is on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s (Iran’s) implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and on matters related to verification and monitoring in Iran in light of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015). – Institute for Science and International Security

Trump Administration

A White House lawyer and former counsel to the House Intelligence Committee under Devin Nunes has been named senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, the latest instance of President Donald Trump elevating a trusted loyalist to control the intelligence community. – Politico

Republican defense hawks are sounding the alarm over a peace agreement they say could open the door to a Taliban resurgence, with some privately lobbying the White House to leave a small number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. – Politico

The Trump administration has withdrawn the nomination of Elaine McCusker, the chief numbers cruncher at the Defense Department, to become the Pentagon’s comptroller in more fallout from the impeachment proceedings and the holdup of military aid to Ukraine. – Military.com

David Ignatius writes: The unsettled international situation could also help former vice president Joe Biden, whose campaign touts his decades of foreign policy experience.[…] Foreign policy is rarely a decisive winning issue in politics. While George H.W. Bush may have won the Cold War, he lost the White House. But foreign crises, and the sense that the United States is powerless to stop disorder, can certainly be a loser. Just ask Jimmy Carter. – Washington Post

Michael Rubin writes: Conservative Republicans once castigated the Obama administration for giving space to the Muslim Brotherhood. Alas, Obama’s Islamist outreach—as ill-conceived as it was—seems positively mild when compared to the empowerment of extremists which now seems to be the norm within Pompeo’s State Department. – The National Interest