39 Items

FBI agents leaving a raid.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Journal Article - Contemporary Security Policy

Going it Alone: The Causes and Consequences of U.S. Extraterritorial Counterproliferation Enforcement

| Mar. 25, 2019

In 2004, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1540, which acknowledged the non-state acquisition of weapons of mass destruction as a security threat and called on member states to implement “appropriate effective” domestic trade controls. The United States, however, has both promoted the multilateral implementation of strategic trade controls but has also increasingly resorted to extraterritorial enforcement of its counterproliferation rules. How can a multilateral, norms-based international regime like 1540 contend with extraterritorial enforcement based on national interests? We argue that increased U.S. extraterritorial counterproliferation policies are a consequence of the inconsistent implementation of resolution 1540, adaptive and resilient proliferation networks, and a history of expanding legal interpretations of jurisdiction. We find that while U.S. extraterritorial enforcement can effectively disrupt networks hiding in overseas jurisdictions, doing so creates disincentives for states to implement 1540 obligations and undermines broader nonproliferation objectives.

FBI agents leave a raid in Trenton, N.J. on July 19, 2012

Julio Cortez/AP

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Long Arm

| February 2019

The networks of middlemen and intermediaries involved in the illicit procurement of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related goods and technologies often operate outside of the United States, which presents several legal and political challenges regarding U.S. trade control enforcement activities. This report considers the extraterritorial efforts of U.S. law enforcement in counterproliferation-related activities and their implications. In other words, how does the United States contend with violations of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related trade controls in overseas jurisdictions, and what are the implications for broader U.S. and international nonproliferation efforts, as well as wider international security and economic concerns? 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin provide an update on the Trump administration's Iran policy at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C., on November 5, 2018 (State Department via Flickr).

State Department via Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Not very SWIFT

| Nov. 06, 2018

Not only would sanctioning SWIFT be a major escalation in U.S. sanctions policy, but an entirely reckless decision. Realistically, enforcing sanctions against SWIFT would have significant consequences for both the U.S. and global financial system—upending decades of international norms.

A stack of Iranian rials and a stack of Euros (Ivar Husevåg Døskeland via Flickr/Creative Commons).

Ivar Husevåg Døskeland via Flickr/Creative Commons

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

International Anti-Money Laundering Reforms and Iran

| Nov. 06, 2018

Although it remains to be seen whether or not the Iran nuclear deal is salvageable, there are few incentives left for Iran to implement anti-money laundering reforms. For better or worse, the Financial Action Task Force and the future of the JCPOA have become politically intertwined as a consequence of US unilateral sanctions.

Blogtrepreneur/Flickr

Blogtrepreneur/Flickr

Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

Solving the Jurisdictional Conundrum: How U.S. Enforcement Agencies Target Overseas Illicit Procurement Networks Using Civil Courts

| September 2018

Over the past two decades, the United States has increasingly turned to targeted sanctions and export restrictions, such as those imposed against Iran and North Korea, in order to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction. One vexing problem, however, is how to contend with jurisdictional hurdles when the violations occur overseas, in countries that are unable or unwilling to assist US enforcement efforts. To solve this problem, US prosecutors are turning to strategies with significant extraterritorial implications—that is, exercising legal authority beyond national borders. One such tool is to use civil legal procedures to seize assets linked to sanctions or export-control violations in jurisdictions that lack cooperative arrangements with US enforcement agencies. While this may be an attractive strategy to bolster enforcement efforts against overseas illicit procurement, using such tools is not without consequence. This article explores the political, legal, and technical implications of enforcing extraterritorial controls against overseas non-state actors by exploring the recent uses of civil-asset forfeiture against Iranian and North Korean procurement networks.

Two-thousand rials

DAVID HOLT/Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Will Anti-Money Laundering Reform in Iran Matter?

| Sep. 14, 2018

Next month, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)—an intergovernmental body that sets and promotes worldwide anti-money laundering standards—will make a key decision on whether or not to lift Iran’s probationary status or place the country back on its blacklist. If put back onto the blacklist, member states would be asked to employ financial countermeasures that range from requiring extra scrutiny of Iranian-linked accounts to shutting down certain types of banking networks.

President Trump speaking about Iran at the White House in October 2017 (White House Photo).

White House Photo

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Where Does Trump Get the Power to Reimpose Sanctions?

| Aug. 15, 2018

Last week, the Trump administration reimposed unilateral sanctions against Iran. This comes after the administration announced its intention to withdraw from the Iran deal in April, despite compelling reasons not to. Like most of America’s sanctions regimes, Trump’s order to reimpose sanctions rests on authority granted under a little-known and even less understood statute that gives the president sweeping authority to regulate certain aspects of international trade and commerce: the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

From left, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pose for a photo during a meeting at the Europa building in Brussels. May 15, 2018 (Olivier Matthys/Associated Press, Pool).

Olivier Matthys/Associated Press, Pool

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Iran Deal is a Done Deal

| May 16, 2018

So far, there seems to be a strong lobby in favor of protecting EU business interests in Iran by proposing sanctions-blocking measures to guard against US secondary sanctions. Ultimately, however, it will be business, not political decisions, that will spell the end of the JCPOA— a lesson almost learned in 1982.

A woman walks by a TV news program showing images of North Korean missile launch, published in the country's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, at Seoul Railway station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 15, 2017. North Korea said Monday the missile it launched over the weekend was a new type of "medium long-range" ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

AP/Lee Jin-man

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Facing the Myths Surrounding Proliferation Financing

| Apr. 11, 2018

In February, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)—an intergovernmental body responsible for promoting policies to protect the global financial system—released a report on the financing of WMD proliferation. The new report is a much-anticipated update to the task force’s aging 2008 guidance on proliferation financing. But it is unclear whether the new guidance represents much change—if any—over the 2008 version.

Binary Code on a Map.

Pixabay/Creative Commons

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Blockchain: A New Aid to Nuclear Export Controls?

| Oct. 19, 2017

Don’t worry if you have yet to hear about blockchain, the emerging technology set to reshape everything from finance and trade to global governance—you are in good company. According to one recent survey of 12,000 people in 11 countries, 60 percent had never heard of the technology and 80 percent could not explain how it works. Yet, for a technology that few understand, blockchain is sure making waves. The World Economic Foundation (WEF), for example, found that 80 percent of global banks will have initiated blockchain-related projects by the end of 2017. Perhaps even more startling: By 2027, the WEF predicts, 10 percent of global gross domestic product will be held in blockchain technology.