Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed Monday that Tehran has violated the limits imposed on uranium enrichment that were a key part of the 2015 nuclear deal.  The U.S. withdrew its support for the deal last year.  The Trump Administration on Monday responded to the confirmation of increased uranium enrichment, ...

Last week, the U.S. nearly launched retaliatory attacks against Iran for the shooting down of a U.S. military drone that was operating in the region.  While the Trump Administration has been casting some doubt in recent days as to whether the downing of the aircraft was authorized at the highest ...

A spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency said Monday that within 10 days, the country will pass the allowed limit for low-grade uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal struck in 2015. The U.S. walked away from the deal in May of 2018.    Also on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a warning to his ...

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad is just beginning a multi-nation tour that will include peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.  This comes as Taliban militants reject calls for a truce to coincide with Eid, which comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.  At ...

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to rise, Cipher Brief expert Norm Roule answered subscriber’s questions in a Cipher Brief Members-Only webcast. What follows is a slightly edited (for length and clarity) transcript of that webcast. For more opportunities to engage directly with the experts on pressing national ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former Director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander  (Ret.) and Jamil N. Jaffer, founder of the National Security Institute at George Mason University, weigh in on possible Iranian responses to recent U.S. actions in a column first published in The Hill. General Keith Alexander (Ret.), Former ...

The U.S. moved this week to apply even more pressure on Iran to end its involvement in illicit activities around the world by announcing that the U.S. State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to countries that import Iranian oil.    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement ...

Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Iran celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution during the first 10 “Days of Dawn” in February, beginning with February 1, the day Ayatollah ...

In a statement for the record presented to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence this week about worldwide threats facing the U.S., Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that "During the next year, Hezbollah most likely will continue to develop its terrorist capabilities, which the group views as a ...

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released the Worldwide Threat Assessment on Tuesday, with Intelligence Community leaders briefing Senators on the biggest threats facing the U.S. While The Cipher Brief will cover all aspects of the broader threat matrix that includes China, Russia and North Korea, this week we are ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack at a cathedral in the Philippines that left at least 21 people dead and scores injured. Earlier this month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Syria that targeted and killed four Americans, one of them a Green Beret.  Al-Shabab, the terrorist group ...

In part two of his two-part exclusive series for The Cipher Brief, AEI Scholar Kenneth Pollack, the author of the recently-released Armies of Sand: The Past, Present and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, discusses how the fundamental balance of power in the Middle East is impacting the Arab world. The Middle East ...

SPECIAL REPORT – This is a Special Report from The Cipher Brief  The White House has confirmed President Trump’s intentions to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.  “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president said in a Twitter post on ...

Reports that President Trump has ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria are not inconsistent with prior messages we’ve heard from the President this year.  In April, The Cipher Brief polled a number of our Experts based on the President’s statements that he wanted to ‘bring our troops back ...

Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as ...

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan recently returned from China without the concrete funding assurances that he was seeking in order to keep his country from having to request a second bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Pakistan has repeatedly turned to China and Saudi Arabia for financial assistance, while the ...

The recent distrust between the United States and Saudi Arabia has raised questions about the crisis in Yemen.  The U.S. supports Saudi forces by providing intelligence and logistics support, among other things, as the Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE, takes on the rebel Houthis that have pushed the Yemeni ...

Last spring, two weeks after the Trump Administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the international arms control deal that curbed Tehran's nuclear program - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new approach to Iran that, he vowed, included history's most ‘draconian’ sanctions. This renewed ...

As details about the disappearance of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi are revealed, its worth looking back at the deeper roots of the U.S. - Saudi relationship.   First printed in The Cipher Brief back in March, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, a retired Commodore of the Royal Saudi Navy who now writes as a political ...

The war in Yemen has been for some time one of the worst current man-made humanitarian disasters.  Now, comes a report, from the United Nations Human Rights Council and based on extensive investigations of a group of experts examining the past four years of the war, documenting not only human suffering ...

A United Nations report delivered to the Security Council last month offered a stark reminder that al Qaeda remains a serious threat around the world.  The report suggested that the de-centralized terrorist network is stronger than ISIS in countries like Yemen and Somalia.      The report was issued just before ...

Pakistan sits at a critical crossroads of U.S. Counterterrorism efforts, and geo-political strategy with China. Pakistan has elected a former cricket player, Imran Khan, as it’s newest Prime Minister.  Pakistan’s new Leader could prove to be a spoiler in US/Afghanistan relations, as he’s previously expressed support for the Taliban, criticized ...

Iran hasn’t been the only target of U.S. sanctions in the past week.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered retaliatory sanctions again two unnamed U.S. officials after the U.S. ordered sanctions against two Turkish ministers last week.  That action came in response to Turkey’s refusal to release North Carolina pastor ...

A recent European Union report  offers an EU specific look at terrorism faced by member states in 2017.   A part of that report focused on terrorist financing, particularly on how money-laundering operations for organized crime groups are partly financing Lebanese Hezbollah's military wing.   Just before Lebanon's Parliamentary elections in May, The ...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Sunday about Iran and its leadership ignited a war of words between the U.S. and Iran with President Trump weighing in via Twitter, warning Iran not to threaten the U.S., but how far-reaching will the impact of their words be? Pompeo accused Iran’s ...

The Trump Administration is increasing pressure on Iran since withdrawing from the JCPOA in May.  Last month, the U.S. began pressuring other countries to halt imports of  Iranian oil.  The Cipher Brief revisits the complicated relationship between Iran and Russia, on the heels of the Helsinki summit. Bottom Line: Russia ...

The OPEC conference in Vienna ended on June 22 with a Saudi-engineered defeat of Iran’s efforts to oppose any production hike.  Masked in vague language, the new OPEC agreement will put at least an additional 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), and possibly as much as one million bpd, on the ...

In the second part of a Cipher Brief two-part series on the significant implications of the battle for Hodeida, Cipher Brief Expert Norm Roule, who is also the ODNI’s former National Intelligence Manager for Iran, shares his secrets for understanding how today’s actions are influenced by the past and how ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Monday that military action in Yemen will fail.  The warning comes as a Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, according to Reuters.  Still don’t understand the strategic significance of what’s happening in Hodeida?  Consider that the city has long served as a hotbed ...

Update: June 18, 2018 - Despite an incredibly rare ceasefire between the Afghan Government and the Taliban in observance of Eid al-Fitr, two deadly suicide bombings rocked Jalalabad over the weekend.   Officials said the latest attack in eastern Nangarhar Province killed at least 18 people and wounded as many as ...

Pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have launched an assault on rebels holding Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.  Potential humanitarian casualties are high, since the port serves as one of the only avenues for foreign aid to move into the country, where Yemenis are already facing dire ...

While the media is dominated by events in North Korea, it would be wise to devote some space to the decision this week by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait to provide Jordan with more than 2 billion dollars in aid over five years to sustain Amman during ...

The Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization is putting the IAEA on notice that Tehran is likely to begin producing centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium.    According to the Fars news agency, Ali Akbar Salehi says the move does not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ...

Weeks after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord, the Trump Administration ratcheted up pressure on Iran by imposing harsh sanctions on key Iranian figures who have helped facilitate the Islamic Republic’s continuous array of malign activity in the Middle East. But questions linger around whether this financial-based approach will actually ...

Since the United States declared the opening of its new embassy in Jerusalem, violence has broken out along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where thousands of protesters have gathered for months for what they have dubbed “The Great March of Return” [to Israel]. Earlier this week, Israeli ...

The White House is correct in pointing out the weaknesses of the JCPOA, some of which have even been candidly acknowledged by former U.S. officials who worked on the agreement.  Yet, the question is not whether the agreement is perfect - but whether the alternatives would better serve the interests ...

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday afternoon that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, and re-impose harsh sanctions on Iran—including both JCPOA-related sanctions as well as additional economic sanctions.  In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his country would abide by the tenants of the ...

With increasingly confusing statements and actions from the White House and the Pentagon on U.S. policy toward Syria, The Cipher Brief presented a live briefing from Amman, Jordan with Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Chief of Middle East operations, Robert Richer during the 2018 Threat Conference.  Richer talked about ...

As Iran and Israel trade accusations over Iran’s nuclear program, and the U.S. sends indicators that it may pull out of the JCPOA agreement, The Cipher Brief talked with Norm Roule—the former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at ODNI and a Cipher Brief Expert —at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat ...

President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his belief that the Iran nuclear deal is flawed and if it is not amended to cure those flaws, the United States should abandon it. On January 12th of this year, he informed the American public that his administration is working with “key European ...

Bottom Line: Syria’s chemical weapons program not only contributes to a tragic humanitarian situation, but its uninhibited use and maintenance creates strategic implications for the West and Israel. Limited military response seeking to degrade Syria’s stockpiles and logistical facilities sends a message, but Assad has shown his intent to continue ...

The American strikes last week on Syrian chemical production, storage and delivery facilities amounted to no more than another pinprick and a slap on Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s wrist and were devoid of any long-term strategy. It was a “one-shot” strike to punish the "Butcher of Damascus" for a one-time heinous act, which the regime ...

Bottom Line: The U.S. teamed with Kurdish forces to oust ISIS from its self-declared caliphate in Syria in Iraq, but now Washington’s continued support for Kurdish militias in Syria has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey, which remains immersed in a longstanding feud with its sizable, domestic Kurdish minority. ...

After days threatening to take action, President Donald Trump announced Friday evening that he'd ordered "precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities," of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Trump said U.S. forces acted together with France and the U.K.,  retaliating for a suspected poison gas attack that killed ...

Bottom Line: U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to rain missiles on forces loyal to Syrian Bashar al-Assad, one week after they allegedly conducted a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria's rebel-held town of Douma, near the capital Damascus. While a potential strike may signal to Assad that the ...

The commander-in-chief and his national security team are sending mixed signals on U.S. policy in Syria. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said: “The primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of ISIS. We’ve almost completed that mission, and we’ll be making a decision very quickly, in coordination with others ...

BRUSSELS – Director of Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence Chagai Tzuriel came to this European city to get the word out that if Iran tries to build a long-term presence in Syria, Israel would have to act – a conflict that could possibly be avoided if U.S. troops stay there. “Right ...

Just last month, the long-simmering Israeli-Iranian conflict came out of the shadows when Iran sent a drone across the Jordanian border into Israel, and Israel retaliated with air strikes on several targets including the Iranian drone operators at a Syrian base in Palmyra, northeast of Damascus. The two sides appear ...

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed indictments for nine Iranian hackers and the U.S. Treasury sanctioned these same individuals as well as one entity, the Mabna Institute, for engaging in state-sponsored theft of intellectual property from 144 U.S. universities – estimated to value $3.4 billion. The campaign also targeted ...

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has won over the American president. He now has a simple message for the American people: we’re the modern Gulf ally you’ve been looking for, to offset the threat of Iran, keep you safe from al Qaeda in Yemen and invest our oil wealth ...