500+ British, French & German MPs have urged US to uphold JCPOA

iran1.jpgMore than 500 British, French and German parliamentarians have signed a letter addressed to their US counterparts urging them to persuade President Trump to uphold US commitment to the JCPOA (see previous blog here on President Trump’s JCPOA speech, 12 January 2018). The letter acknowledges the concerns surrounding Iran’s ‘other non-nuclear’ activities (namely, its ballistic missiles programme and role in Syria), but states that “these issues must be treated separately… and not within the context of the JCPOA”. Furthermore, “if the deal breaks down, it [would be] well-nigh impossible to assemble another grand coalition built around sanctions against Iran. We must preserve what took us a decade to achieve and has proven to be effective.”

UK Defence Committee recommends better enforcement of N Korea sanctions

Parliament4.jpgThe House of Commons Defence Committee has published a report: Rash or Rational? North Korea and the threat it poses which analyses sanctions adopted in response to North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The report states that North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing began in 2006, and that UN sanctions have been imposed in 9 increasingly severe UNSC resolutions (the latest being in December 2017, see here). Countries “traditionally supportive” of North Korea, such as China and Russia had approved all 9 resolutions, and some imposed additional measures (including the US and the EU). The report concludes that the “inadequate enforcement of sanctions” and “lax enforcement on the part of certain countries”, has “significantly limited their impact on North Korea’s economy”. It recommends that the FCO should “set out what steps it has taken to encourage other countries to enforce – in full – the agreed sanctions against North Korea”.

HMRC fines UK exporter £109k for unlicensed exports of military goods

HMRC.jpgThe UK’s Export Control Joint Unit has announced that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has recently fined a UK exporter £109,312.50 for unlicensed exports of military goods controlled by the Export Control Order 2008. No further details were provided.

UK issues new ‘Information Security Items’ export licence

ECOThe UK Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has published today a new open general export licence (OGEL) on Information Security Items. Its purpose is to allow ‘low risk’ information security items deploying encryption to be exported to a wide range of destinations.

Furthermore, a total of 26 existing military and dual use OGELs have been updated to reflect new contact details of the ECJU and the Ministry of Defence. Otherwise, the scope of those OGELs remain the same. ECJU Notice here.

Russian retaliatory measures for expelled intelligence officers

Putin3.jpgWe previously reported that in response to the recent nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the UK had expelled 23 “undeclared [Russian] intelligence officers” (here), and that Russia had responded by (inter alia) expelling 23 diplomats from the UK Embassy in Moscow (see blog here). Since then, over 150 Russian intelligence officers have been expelled from more than 20 countries (see blog here). The US expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

In response, Russia has imposed a number of retaliatory measures. Russia announced that 58 diplomatic staff at the US Embassy in Moscow and 2 employees at the US Consulate General in Yekaterinburg have been declared ‘persona non grata’ for “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status”. The agreement to open the US Consulate General in St Petersburg has been revoked. The White House has issued a press release stating that “Russia’s response was not unanticipated, and [that the US] will deal with it”. Russia has announced that it has declared ‘persona non grata’ the diplomats from 23 other countries “in response to their unjustified expulsions of Russian diplomats”.  It also announced that Britain “must equalise, within a month, the total number of employees at the UK embassy in Moscow and the UK consulates in Russia with the number of Russian diplomats and administrative and technical workers who are on long-term tours of duty to the UK by making relevant cuts in their staffs”.

Government position on UK-EU sanctions cooperation post-Brexit

UK Gov.jpgThe UK government has set out its aims for UK-EU sanctions cooperation post-Brexit, see here.

Upon leaving the EU, the UK will “pursue an independent foreign policy” but shall seek a “close and cooperative relationship that goes beyond existing third country relationships with the EU”. In particular, the UK “will want to continue to work closely together on sanctions”. There are several models in which this could take, from formal mechanisms for dialogue and information sharing, to more informal engagement (which is largely how the US works with the EU).

18 countries expel Russian intelligence officers; UK Commons inquiry

More than 20 countries have announced their intention to expel over 100 Russian intelligence officers from their countries.

The US is expelling 60 Russian intelligence officers in retaliation for the Salisbury poisoning, in order to reduce Russia’s ability to “spy on Americans” and show Russia that “its actions have consequences” (see White House statements here and here). 48 are based at the Russian mission to the USA and 12 at the UN mission in New York. The US has also closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. Russia has said it will retaliate.

The European Council has said that 14 EU member states had decided to expel Russian diplomats after the UK expelled 23. So far Germany, France and Poland have said they will expel 4, Lithuania & the Czech 3, and Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands 2. Ukraine will expel 13 Russian diplomats and Canada 4. The EU has said that “additional measures, including further expulsions within this common EU framework are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks.”

New Zealand has announced that it will be imposing travel restrictions on all the individuals that are expelled by other countries (New Zealand made no actual expulsions, as its government had declared that there were no individuals who fell into the profile of ‘undeclared Russian intelligence agent’).

Meanwhile, the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee is to examine whether and how the UK can impose further financial sanctions on Russian money in British tax havens.