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SnapshotsDec 21, 2020 | 19:32 GMT
A member of the hacking group Red Hacker uses a website that monitors global cyberattacks in Dongguan, China, on Aug. 4, 2020.
Trump Leaves Biden to Deal With Russia’s Latest Cyberattack
U.S. President Donald Trump’s reaction to the recent SolarWinds attack suggests that his administration will deflect any overt political response or significant retaliation to President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. Between Dec. 18-19, Trump posted a series of tweets in which he downplayed the threat posed by the SolarWinds hack, while contradicting top security officials and independent experts’ assertions of Russia’s involvement in the incident. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff -- along with scores of outside cybersecurity experts -- have all indicated that Russia was behind the attack and emphasized the expansive scope of the incident. 
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SITUATION REPORTDec 18, 2020 | 22:57 GMT
U.S., China: Over 60 Chinese =Firms, Including SMIC, Added to Washington's Export Blacklist
The U.S. Commerce Department has moved to effectively ban China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) from accessing U.S. technology, services and products by adding it, along with more than 60 other Chinese companies, to its entity list, which increases export controls, Bloomberg reported Dec. 18.
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SITUATION REPORTDec 9, 2020 | 21:28 GMT
Yemen: U.S. Sanctions Iranian Official With Alleged Houthi Links 
The United States has sanctioned a high-ranking member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hasan Irlu, for operating as Tehran’s envoy to Houthi rebels and “demonstrat[ing] the Iranian regime’s indifference to resolving the conflict” in Yemen, Al Jazeera reported Dec. 8. 
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AssessmentsDec 3, 2020 | 23:26 GMT
Members of Iranian forces pray around the coffin of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during his burial ceremony at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in northern Tehran on Nov. 30, 2020.
A New Iranian Law Could Bring the Nuclear Issue to a Crisis Point Under Biden
The Iranian parliament's ratification of a new bill expanding Iran's nuclear program reflects growing pressure by Iranian hawks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and their expectation of early engagement with the incoming Biden administration to address bilateral issues. If the law is implemented entirely it would bring the Iran nuclear issue on the cusp of a crisis within the first 100 days of the Biden administration because the moves that Iran makes under the law would be aimed at significantly reducing Iran's nuclear breakout, the time Iran would need to produce enough weapons-grade material for one device.
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SITUATION REPORTDec 3, 2020 | 18:16 GMT
China: U.S. Limits Visas, Bans Cotton From Xinjiang Military Conglomerate
The U.S. State Department on Dec. 3 announced new travel restrictions on the 92 million members of the Communist Party of China and their estimated 178 million family members that will immediately limit travel visas to a single entry for one month, the department announced Dec. 3, citing the need to counter the party's "malign influence." Separately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Dec. 2 that it will use its "Withhold Release Order" powers to halt cotton and cotton product imports from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
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AssessmentsNov 27, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
IAEA inspectors (2nd, 3rd L) and Iranian technicians disconnect the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, Iran, on Jan., 20, 2014.
Fallout From the Killing of a High-Level Iranian Nuclear Scientist
The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will not materially impact Iran's nuclear program, but the killing is a sign that the United States and Israel are accelerating their covert strategy against Iran in the waning days of the Trump administration. Iran will respond in some form, although it will probably refrain from a hasty response that could transform the covert war with Israel and the United States on Iranian soil into an overt one.
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SITUATION REPORTNov 13, 2020 | 18:42 GMT
U.S., China: White House Blocks Investment in Chinese Companies Supporting Mainland Military
U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Nov. 12 barring Americans from holding direct or indirect shares in 31 Chinese companies that the Department of Defense says supply or support the modernization of China's military, intelligence and/or security services. 
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SITUATION REPORTOct 9, 2020 | 21:08 GMT
U.S.: Possible Xilinx Acquisition by AMD Points to More Consolidation in Semiconductor Industry
In another potential move that could continue to reshape the semiconductor industry -- and draw regulatory scrutiny in China -- Santa Clara-based Advanced Micro Devices is in talks to buy San Jose-based Xilinx in a deal that could reach $30 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 9. Its sources said a deal could be finalized as early as next week.
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SnapshotsOct 9, 2020 | 18:52 GMT
An Indian fighter jet flies over Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh, on June 26, 2020.
China Moves to Freeze Its Border Dispute With India Before the Winter Does
China’s recent reassertion of its 1959 border line with India has left little room for a compromise in the two countries’ territorial dispute in Ladakh ahead of the approaching harsh winter, which will enable Beijing to both reinforce its claims in the Himalayan region come spring, as well as test Indian resolve with actions at other areas along the border. In late September, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sent a statement to the Hindustan Times confirming it still recognizes its unilateral 1959 line along the Indian border as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which was drawn before the two countries’ war in 1962. Military officials from the two sides are set to meet Oct. 12 for the seventh round of Corps Commander talks aimed at resolving the border standoff in the eastern section of Ladakh, but China’s reassertion of the 1959 line makes any resolution difficult before the winter season sets in
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AssessmentsOct 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A picture taken on Nov. 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.
The Limits of Biden’s Proposed Return to Diplomacy With Iran
U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has expressed he’d be open to quickly re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran returns to full compliance. But his predecessor’s hardline policies would probably necessitate expanding the scope of negotiations with Tehran beyond the current deal, leading Iran to adopt an even harder position on its nuclear program. Biden criticized the Trump administration’s hawkish Iran policy and 2018 withdrawal from the nuclear deal in a Sept. 13 opinion piece, in which he wrote that returning to the JCPOA could be the start of broader diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. Simply re-entering the JCPOA, however, would be difficult for both Washington and Tehran, as the current U.S. sanctions architecture is now far more complex than it was when the deal was signed in 2015.
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SnapshotsJul 14, 2020 | 14:21 GMT
A Call for Unity May Protect Iran's President From Impeachment, but Not His Officials
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal to parliament against efforts to impeach President Hassan Rouhani will slow, but not stop, legislators' action against Rouhani's administration in its final year. In a July 12 address to parliament, Khamenei urged unity among Iran's leaders and voiced his support for Rouhani carrying out the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2021. The movement to impeach Rouhani and officials in his administration, which has been building since Iran's new parliament took office in late May, has accelerated over the last week. Khamenei's intervention won't halt dissatisfaction with Rouhani's performance, but it will make his impeachment less likely. Other prominent figures in his administration, however, will still be at risk of being prematurely ousted from office.
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On GeopoliticsJun 11, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
A 3D rendering of eastern China and the island of Taiwan lit by city lights from space.
China's Evolving Taiwan Policy: Disrupt, Isolate and Constrain
For China's leadership, the unification of Taiwan is more than a symbol of the final success of the Chinese Communist Party or an emotional appeal to some historic image of a greater China. It is a strategic imperative driven both by Taiwan's strategic location, and by the rising antagonism between the United States and China. Taiwan is the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” off the Chinese coastline, splitting China's near seas, and bridging the arc of islands stretching southwest from Japan with those from the Philippines south through Indonesia. Taiwan is crucial for both any foreign containment strategy, and for China's confidence and security in the East and South China seas -- areas critical to China's national defense, food security and international trade. 
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