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Sins of Generations Past: Why the Iran Accord Makes Sense

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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a step in the right direction. The agreement takes place between Iran and six other nations, including the United States. It gives Iran approval to enrich uranium for civilian uses, while keeping in check its use for weapons development.

The agreement also lifts several sanctions off of Iran that were arguably not having the desired effects, while leaving more vital ones in place. Given the shaky recent history of Iranian relations with the UN, the agreement is a calculated and smart plan of action towards overall peace. Through this plan, Iran is not economically crippled under sanctions and international tensions with Iran across the rest of the international community are eased as well.

In recent years Iran has been under constant pressure from the international community over its enrichment of uranium and attempted development of nuclear capabilities. It’s possible that under such international pressure Iran could eventually have felt compelled to continue with its enrichment in secret. Thus, while the JCPOA is arguably not a complete non-proliferation agreement, it doesn’t need to be in order to be effective and ultimately ease tensions on all sides long-term. Over the past thirty years, for example, the U.S. has been concerned mainly with stopping Iran’s support for terrorism and enthusiasm for nuclear power. Negotiations were always less than successful one-on-one, leading to the U.S. imposing crippling sanctions, with support from the international community coming later. But concern still remained on whether or not Iran was attempting to develop nuclear capabilities. Iran, for its part, was struggling under economic sanctions and nearly paranoid of possible U.S. attack or direct intervention. After all, one only needed to look on a map and see that the U.S. had attacked the country to the left of Iran (Iraq) and had attacked the country to the right of Iran (Afghanistan). Thinking Iran would be the final piece in a three-piece jigsaw puzzle of hard power geopolitics was not an entirely illogical concern for Iranian authorities. It was part of President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ lest we forget. Any sort of military intervention, however, could have given Iran the legitimacy it needed for developing nuclear weapons in secret. Israel’s attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor and supposed involvement in the Stuxnet attack in Iran is an example of this. The bombing led directly to Iraq developing weapons further and Iran becoming more convinced than ever it needed the strength of nuclear deterrence in its corner. The smart emphasis should have been on diplomatic engagement and negotiations, however, not on covert military actions alone. And sanctions, quite frankly, only postponed dealing with the real problems and poisoned the diplomatic space. Thus, the consequential silence between Iran and the U.S. was drawn out by decades and Iran’s nuclear situation remained at best murky and uneasy. With this agreement, both sides can work away from violence, mistrust, and suspicion and towards engaged diplomacy instead.

Although the sanctions imposed were an attempt by the U.S. to hamper Iran’s economy, and thereby hampering its nuclear and military capability, it only seemed to hamper the former while igniting the latter. Iran’s economy indeed suffered greatly, but its supply of arms to Syria and terror factions all across the Middle East were not stymied at all. Iran’s nuclear aspirations seemed not to have been greatly affected by sanctions either: On March 16, 2014, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation Vann Van Diepen said Iran was still ‘very actively’ creating front companies and engaging in other activity to conceal procurements and that Iran’s activities had not changed since the old Joint Plan of Action (JPA) was agreed to. This implied that Iran had internal capabilities not dependent on trade that could continue nuclear research as well as develop conventional weapons and arm external groups, regardless of how severe sanctions became. In this way, the sanctions were not only NOT achieving their goal but perhaps even doing the reverse: hurting the people while giving them reason to support their own government instead of oppose it.

Bijan Khajehpour, a political and economic analyst who was imprisoned in Iran, noted in 2009 how the nation was disappointed that in previous P5+1 negotiations the sanctions against it were not eased. However these sanctions were imposed partly because of Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate and openly limit its nuclear development. Now those two problems seem alleviated. Another positive upswing of the JCPOA is that the U.S. is not required to abandon its current sanctions against Iran in total. This includes sanctions for alleged human rights violations and terrorism support. These sanctions will remain in place while various other sanctions regarding economy and trade will be lifted. Due to the oil embargo and banking sanctions, inflation in Iran rose nearly 50% in 2013. Unrest due to Iran’s rising food prices have also been on the rise. Across the board it has been the civilian sector which bore the brunt of the effects of such sanctions. And they are hard to justify with the lack of any evidence actually showing the intended goals of deterring nuclear and military capability, and ultimately deposing the theocratic regime, were even coming close to being accomplished.

Thus, the JCPOA lifts the sanctions that were having ill effects that outweighed any alleged positive results, while implementing a program that will more effectively allow the international community to monitor Iran’s civilian nuclear development and keep it in check. Also built into the plan is a ‘snap back’ measure: if Iran is found in violation of the agreement, then the previous sanctions would fall back into effect. This mechanism will last for ten years with the option to reinstate it for another five. If it is determined that Iran has violated its agreement, the five nations can take a vote to lift the resolution and Iran’s sanctions will ‘snap back’ within 30 days. It’s an effective deterrence measure, as it is in Iran’s best interest to not allow these sanctions to fall back into place. Its economy needs a chance to grow again. That is a far greater national security goal than trying to force its way clumsily into the global nuclear club. Thus, Iran’s cooperation is a chance for it to demonstrate compliance and a positive attitude towards the international community while being a fully responsible and engaged member of said community. This potentiality alone makes the JCPOA cause for buoyed optimism. It is a chance to create a new diplomatic space and conversation where the sins of generations past, on BOTH sides, don’t continue to constantly haunt the arena. And absolution of these sins was something long ago needed.

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Transnational Crimes in the Maritime Realm

Zaeem Hassan Mehmood

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Maritime trafficking routes closely follow the commercial shipping lanes. The modalities, technologies and strategies put into place by criminals are often times more sophisticated in caliber than those used in regulated trade. The vast expanses of the sea, the complexity of the maritime transportation system, the immense volume of cargo transferred at each port, and the limited capacity for inspections of cargo creates opportunity for criminals. Seaborne trade in the maritime realm follows a defined set of “sea lines of communication” based on currents and weather. Because of the robustness of shipping and mass amounts of cargo moved, traffickers utilize the same shipping industry routes with great effect. Shipping and sea lanes tend to offer anonymity for criminals, whereas their activities can be hidden behind legitimate industries. Criminal activity, especially illicit trade in narcotics, humans, and weapons, has become so extensive that it is difficult according to various studies to rule out implications of states and corporations in the criminal enterprise.

Individuals from various nationalities, followed by multiple vessels flagged to different states, adds the UN Drug Trade Report 2019, are used in the networks which transit the waters of various states and call at different ports before reaching their final destination. Despite the abundance of laws designed to combat illicit trafficking and an apparent impetus to stop specific types of crime, government’s remains only marginally successful in preventing the global flow of illegal goods due to the overwhelming volume and complexity of the markets for illicit trade. Working in tandem, the maritime forces nevertheless have made successful efforts to disrupt the illicit supply chains as a result of sea-based security operations; cooperation and collaboration between law enforcement organizations.

Nevertheless, legal complexity arises as the high seas “fall outside the jurisdiction of any single state” under the United National Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The ocean space is to be collectively policed by all states governed by principles of Freedom of navigation. Piracy and the illicit trafficking of narcotics, humans, and weapons comprise the main varieties of transnational crime. UNCLOS addresses these matter of concern in the realm of the sea, where various articles provide guidance in order to curb or limit the threats. Article 110 expounds the customary rule that warships may “approach and visit” on the high seas “any ship that is suspected of piracy, human trafficking, unauthorized broadcasting; and is without nationality”; or, “is flying a foreign flag or refusing to show its flag.” Article 111 addresses the right of “hot pursuit”, allowing warships of one state to follow a vessel through the different maritime zones of the ship if based on “reasonable grounds,” it is suspected of illegal activity.

Narcotics Trafficking

UNCLOS under Article 108 empowers states to cooperate and offer assistance to suppress drug trafficking by other state-flagged vessels. Traditionally, drug traffickers used overland routes, but since last two decades, they have shifted transportation into the “Indo-Pacific Ocean”. The majority of this trafficking has proliferated in the littoral regions, and often within territorial waters. In the latter years, advancement in technologies, providing for larger ships have allowed traffickers to move further into the sea to capitalize “blue water” areas, outside the 12-nautical mile mark and at times further than the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of any country. It is a documented fact that U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs, also according to various studies the source and transit zones of drug trafficking between South America and the U.S despite high patrols on the border.

Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea

Piracy has been one of the most ancient forms of maritime crime that is treated rigorously under the provisions of UNCLOS. Article 101 defines piracy as “any illegal act of violence or detention, any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or private aircraft on the high seas against another ship or aircraft, outside the jurisdiction of any state.” The latter parts highlights an important aspect that piracy is a type of transnational crime conducted by non-state actors in international waters. Article 105 of UNCLOS grants everystate the authority to seize any vessel, associated property and to arrest any persons engaged in piracy. Domestic courts of the state conducting the seizure have the mandate prosecute the pirates under domestic law and determine what to do with the vessels; however, to date the courts remain inadequate or unsupported in many places.

Piracy became a security issue of international concern since the last decade and half, primarily in the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea largely due to weak patrolling and sea blindness by the littoral states of the region. However, to an extent order at sea has been maintained with the presence Combined Task Force-151(CTF-151), focused on counter-piracy, and Combined Task Force-150 (CTF-150) to combat illicit activities at sea. Supported by several U.N. Security Council Resolutions, these task forces have “engaged with regional partners to build capacity and improve capabilities to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.” 

Piracy in the Asia-Pacific remains a matter of concern, however most of the incidents are underreported and those reported are of such small scale that they cloud the assessment of major piracy events. In the region, although piracy has been contained in the eastern region of Africa whereas it has proliferated in the western Africa around the Gulf of Guinea. This subject-matter experts conclude is a result of an increased trafficking in narcotics from Latin America, along with the various other illicit elements involving illegal fishing and human trafficking. The increased in piracy is a reminder for states that piracy remains a persistent and widespread challenge to maritime security. The recent activities in Somalia and Yemen foreshadow a resurgence of piracy in the region, encouraged by trafficking of light weapons and small arms, along with non-state actor’s unprecedented access to ship monitoring, tracking devices, and use of unmanned systems and long range communications.

Conclusion

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) identifies only certain types of transnational crime that affect maritime security, but there are many varieties and combinations of criminal activity that affect security and safety from the high seas to internal waters. Domestic laws however need be brought in line with international law, and cooperative partnerships between the states, law enforcement, and militaries to combat illicit activity needs to transcend the morass of politics that are often a hurdle in the way of more comprehensive legal regimes. It is recommended that information and intelligence sharing, along with TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) need to be employed by the maritime forces to ensure freedom of the seas. UNCLOS provides a strong framework and multilateral efforts to deter criminal activity at sea for a more secure, safer operating environment for all. However, it is the difficulty in effective prosecution and applying of an equitable punishment to the culprits, involved in piracy, human trafficking and illicit drugs that must serve as a reminder to all states that much awaits for an all-inclusive solution.

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Fighting Corporate Espionage by a Counterintelligence Agent

Bob Budahl

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Corporate executives must bear the responsibility of today’s evolving corporate world entering into a global community where not only are the exposures to such a wide market area lucrative to an already thriving business, but also to a grave danger of the companies’ trade and technology secrets, systems, financial accounts and much more. No longer is “Security” to the facility and personnel all that is required. Many foreign countries and interests take short cuts to becoming competitive through the theft of trade secrets, products and overt and covert espionage of all sorts. Some of these entities are now facing a growing challenge from United States corporations with safeguarding of commercial information, proprietary information, and economic factors.

Many of the tactics utilized in private sector counterintelligence have much in common with the secrets and information the government does its best to safeguard from theft of foreign governments or non-traditional actor threats. The FBI estimates U.S. Corporations lose over $100 billion annually. There are open and legal methods of collection open that are harmful and a good counterintelligence program should target this as well as illegal activities such as electronic eavesdropping, hacking, etc. Passive counterintelligence tries to curtail what a collector may do through countermeasures, and awareness training. Active counterintelligence will prove beneficial to identify and detect a threat, and will conduct operations including eliminating threats or ongoing targeting. A mitigation policy should be of avail. After an attack it may raise shareholder concern which needs to be quelled quickly. Quick realization of a threat and implementing action promptly and efficiently can stop immeasurable damage.

The leaders in the private sector need to be proactive and realize that it is no longer only local threats they face. The threats can be global and may not only be an economic threat but also a threat to national security. In the U.S. private sector ties to the Defense, Intelligence and other government entities can be vast with a great deal of interplay and interconnectedness. Also, corporations do not employ many of the safeguards put in place by the defense and other government departments. Compartmentation, clearance, and many operations taken for granted in the government aren’t serving the corporate structures well-being at all or as well as it should be. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996, Title 18, Sections 1831 and 1832 of the U.S. Code covers economic espionage and also if they are considered trade theft prosecutions.

Where once economic espionage meant directly infiltrating a company or recruiting an employee within the corporation our biggest challenge today is cyber espionage. In reality secrets and information are stolen often and not even known they were taken. And a much less chance of apprehension. Cybercrimes operate in a stealth mode in many ways, but in a contrast way can be identified and detected and countered with effective counterintelligence methods. The U.S. economy has changed over the past 20 years. “Intellectual capital rather than physical assets now represent the bulk of a U.S. corporation’s value.”

With the growth of cybercrimes including corporate espionage some tips for safeguarding and thwarting foreign hostile intrusions include

Conduct real-time monitoring of networks and retaining access records

Software tools for content mgt., data loss prevention, network forensics

Encrypt data on servers

Utilize multi-factor authentication measures such as biometrics, PINS, passwords

Mobility policy in which measures are developed to oversee which connections can and cannot be made to corporate systems

Limits on social networking

Establish contingency plans

Many others

When deciding to emplace a counterintelligence program to safeguard a corporation the first stepis to conduct a risk assessment by assessing vulnerabilities and estimating the consequences of losing critical assets. This should be headed up by a board member or senior executive.

Then move to step two in which groundwork is laid for establishing a corporate counterintelligence program. Hire a manager dedicated to counterintelligence. Hook up the company’s security, intelligence assurance, general counsel and HR departments. Develop liaison with government law and intelligence. Ensure centralized management of the counterintelligence program. And have legal counsel provide guidance on the counterintelligence program actions.

Identify the Capabilities needed

Threat awareness and training

Analysis, Reporting and Response

Suspicious activity reporting

Counterintelligence Audit

Counterintelligence Investigations.

Liaison

Implement the Counterintelligence Program

A basic counterintelligence program description will look something like this: PM (Program Manager) interplay such as:

PM develops and implements CI program

PM oversees a centralized CI Program office

PM maintains insight into all corporate elements

PM is responsible for liaison with US Government

Security officers responsible for tactical CI

PM provides CI guidance through training programs

Also be aware that not only high tech companies are targeted since the targeted information they seek may be deemed important by who is doing the shopping.

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Where does allegiance lie?

Bob Budahl

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Dongfan “Greg” Chung who is a native of China and a naturalized U.S. Citizen had “secret” security clearance while working with Rockwell and Boeing Corporations on the Space Shuttle project. He had retired in 2002 but returned a year later as a contractor until fall 2006. The government proved Chung committed espionage by taking and concealing Boeing secrets regarding the Delta IV rocket and also the Space Shuttle. He did this for the People’s Republic of China. He was convicted on charges of acting as an agent of the PRC as well as economic espionage.

The investigation of a different engineer working within the U.S is what led to Chung’s investigation and resulting conviction. He was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.

The Chinese had sent letters requesting information as far back as 1979. In correspondence with the PRC Chung expressed his wishes to help the PRC modernize. He also sent 24 manuals related to the important B-1 Bomberfrom Rockwell Corporation which was very damaging.

Travel trips to the People’s Republic of China occurred on multiple occasions to lecture but he also met with government officials. In letters from his handlers they use his wife Rebecca and Chi Mak to transmit information. In the fall of 2006 FBI and NASA agents searched his home and discovered more than 250,000 documents from Boeing, Rockwell and others which were secret.

The Shuttle Drawing System or “SDS” that Rockwell and Boeing engineers created held information regarding performing processes regarding the Space Shuttle. The engineers need a password and authorization to be able to access this system and files. This is a clear case that defensive counterintelligence measures could have prevented printing, concealment and removal of documents from the workplace. One great example of offensive counterespionage was the search of Chung’s trash which led to much revealing evidence.Also his extensive travel to the PRC was an indicator that his scope of activities while in the PRC were above speaking engagements, seminars, teaching, personal. The authorities did conduct offensive counterintelligence to the best of their abilities once it learned via the other agent implicated in similar dealings with the PRC.

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