With most countries unwilling to extend the 13-year-old UN arms embargo on the Iran, which expires on October 19 according to the JCPOA's terms, President Trump signed an executive order Monday to block "transfers from Iran of destabilizing conventional weapons and acquisition of arms and related materiel by Iran." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subsequently announced the US will impose sanctions on Iran's Ministry of Defense, the Defense Industries Organization (a conglomerate of over 300 companies responsible for provisioning the Iranian military and foreign arms sales), Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for helping Tehran evade the UN embargo, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran group director Hamid Reza Ghadirian, and Iran Centrifuge Technology Company head Ahmad Shiva'i. Secretary Steve Mnuchin disclosed, "The Treasury Department is designating entities that support Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and senior officials overseeing Iran's nuclear power ballistic missile development." Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, Iran's primary developer of liquid-propelled missiles, is one target of the new Treasury Department sanctions. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross then named five Iranian scientists who will be added to the entity list for enabling or assisting Iran's nuclear development program.
During a virtual Council on Foreign Relations-hosted conversation Monday with Fareed Zakaria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that a precondition for Tehran adhering to the JCPOA is the US compensating Iran for "billions upon billions of dollars of damage they have inflicted" since the Trump administration pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions in 2018. Zarif also summarily rejected any attempts by a future Biden administration to renegotiate the JCPOA's terms. In response to a question about American citizens detained in Iran, Zarif proposed exchanging all Iranians in US prisons for Americans in Iranian prisons: "Let's do a universal deal. I repeat, we can exchange all prisoners, period."
Sofia's Specialized Criminal Court Monday found dual Lebanese-Australian national Meliad Farah and dual Lebanese-Canadian national Hassan El Hajj Hassan guilty of involvement in the 2012 Burgas bus bombing. Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, a French-Lebanese national, carried out a suicide bombing that killed the Bulgarian bus driver and five Israeli tourists at the Black Sea resort of Burgas. The EU blacklisted Hezbollah's "military wing" soon after Bulgarian authorities identified the group's responsibility for the attack. Prosecutors alleged Farah and Hassan gave El-Husseini the explosive device and logistical support. Sofia's Specialized Criminal Court sentenced the pair in absentia to life in prison without parole and ordered them to pay compensation to the victims' families. Interpol issued a red notices for Farah and Hassan.
The EU Monday imposed sanctions on the Turkish shipping company Avrasya Shipping for violating the UN arms embargo on Libya. Avrasya Shipping operates the cargo ship Cirkin. France accused Turkish naval vessels of threatening to attack the French frigate Courbet on June 10 when the latter sought to search the Cirkin, which was suspected of violating the UN arms embargo on Libya. French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said the Cirkin raised suspicion by turning off its transponder, failing to identify itself, and not providing its final destination. To ward off an inspection, the three Turkish warships escorting the Cirkin carried out radar targeting on the Courbet three times, suggesting an imminent missile strike and prompting the Courbet to withdraw. Around the same time, the Turkish military escort also prevented a Greek vessel from inspecting the Cirkin as part of Operation IRINI, the EU naval mission to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.
The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, declared Monday it will participate in the November 11 parliamentary elections. This comes a day after Jordanian authorities arrested Badi al-Rafiah, executive director of the party's central election committee, on the charge of "insulting the president of a friendly country" for a social media post about Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The IAF boycotted the 2010 and 2013 elections in opposition to the extreme gerrymandering that favors rural Bedouin voters over urban Palestinian ones. IAF General Secretary Murad al-Adailah warned the government against rigging the election, saying: "Meddling in these elections is playing with security and stability of the country." Although the IAF always wins a plurality of seats when it runs in parliamentary elections, gerrymandering ensures it remains in the opposition. Adailah rationalized participating in the 2020 election by insisting there must be an Islamist voice in parliament to expose rampant corruption and oppose normalization deals with Israel.
Bahrain's Interior Ministry revealed Sunday that the country foiled an attack by agents working for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeting a "foreign delegation" in retaliation for the US killing Qasem Soleimani last January. Saudi state TV reported nine suspects were in custody while nine more fled to Iran. Bahraini authorities discovered the plot upon finding an explosive device on a city street. While the State Department has not commented on the situation in Bahrain, last week Politico published that US intelligence reports said Iran was considering assassinating the American ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, to avenge Soleimani.
Honduran President Juan Hernandez on Sunday tweeted that his country would transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of the year and Israel will open an embassy in Tegucigalpa. Only the American and Guatemalan embassies are currently located in Jerusalem.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum