On 10 February 2017, Italy accused Russia of hacking it’s foreign ministry in 2016. According to published reports, the hacking lasted for months before it was detected. The accusation has been flatly rejected by Russia. The accusation is now being investigated by the chief prosecutor in Rome.
2. Export controls
On 16 January 2017, the EU Commission published the updated correlation table of the Combined Nomenclature (CN) – EU dual-use goods.
On 17 January 2017, President Obama controversially authorized the easing of sanctions against Sudan (falling under SSR and E.O.’s 13067 and 13412). The decision was made in a step towards normalizing bi-lateral relations with Sudan. U.S. officials defend the change in policy towards Khartoum as a response to the latter’s steps towards improving humanitarian access, lowering violence internally, as well as “cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism and addressing regional conflicts.”
On 30 December 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a confidential report to the UN Security Council regarding his concerns that Iran may have violated existing UN arms embargo. It concerns Iranian arms shipments – weapons and missiles – to the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah. The report is to be discussed by the Security Council on 18 January 2017.
On 27 December 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce/Bureau of Industry Security published a final rule which substantially eases the U.S. dual-use export controls against Burma (Myanmar).
On 29 December 2016, President Obama issued a new set of sanctions against Russia. These are cyber-related sanctions as a result of U.S. determination that Russia was involved in the hacking of the most recent U.S. Presidential elections. Designations include 9 entities and individuals including the GRU and the FSB (Russian intelligence services). Other measures cover the shutting down of 2 Russian compounds in the U.S., and the expulsion of of 35 Russian diplomats – claimed by the U.S. to be intelligence operatives.
On 15 December 2016, as predicted, EU leaders agreed to extend their sector sanctions against Russia until mid-2017. The target of EU sanctions will focus on the Russian defense, energy, and financial sectors. Its expected that the restrictive measures will be formalized this coming week. The extension of sanctions, which was agreed with the U.S., are a result of the ongoing crisis in the Crimea and Sevastopol.
The woes for achieving a timely Brit-Exit increased as a result of reports by the British top EU diplomat that a final trade-deal between the UK-EU could take up to 10 years. Further, this report…
President Obama orders a review of malicious cyber activities timed during U.S. elections. Highly sensitive is the alleged role of Russia, which the Russian Government denies and President-Elect Trump does not believe, in the hacking of 2016 elections campaigns. In this context, Republican senators have split with their president-elect and demanded their own investigations into the hacking activities of foreign elements.
As a reaction to U.S. Congress decision to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, in November 2016, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the development of a nuclear propulsion system for maritime vessels.