U.S. Institute of Peace Newsletter: May 26, 2022


In the latest newsletter, the U.S. calls nuclear deal “tenuous” and signals IRGC to remain on terrorist list. It also includes new sanctions on an oil smuggling network with Russian ties, a U.S. intelligence assessment, a U.N. report on sanctions impact, and the news digest

Malley: Future of JCPOA is “Tenuous”
On May 25, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley warned that the prospects of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal were “tenuous at best.” He blamed “excessive Iranian demands” for the impasse. The United States, however, will continue to negotiate as long as the “nonproliferation benefits are worth the sanctions lifting we would provide,” he said. 

Iran Deal: The IRGC is the Final Hurdle
The last and biggest hurdle to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal was the dispute between Washington and Tehran over the status of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group. Iran demanded that the United States take the IRGC off the terrorist list. But the United States said that it would only make concessions on issues unrelated to the nuclear deal if Iran took reciprocal steps.

Iran Deal: U.S. Sanctions on the IRGC
Since 2007, the United States has sanctioned the IRGC—as well as its proxies and foreign companies that support it—under at least eight executive orders and six laws. “Of the 107 sanctions the Biden administration has imposed on Iran, 86 of those – some three-quarters – have been applied against the IRGC or its proxies,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on May 10, 2022.

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Oil Smuggling Network
On May 25, the United States sanctioned an oil smuggling network that secretly funded both Iran’s Qods Force, the external operations arm of the Revolutionary Guards, and Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militia. The Treasury Department named a web of nine companies and 10 men operating in Iran, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. 

U.S. Defense Intelligence on Iran
Iran is “probably” plotting “covert actions against American officials” to retaliate for the U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Qods Force who was killed in a 2020 airstrike, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) warned on May 10, 2022. Tehran’s long-term goal is to force the U.S. military to withdraw from the region, Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, the DIA director, reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

U.S. Intelligence Report on Iran’s Nuclear Program
In April 2022, the annual U.S. assessment of arms control reported that Iran had not yet taken the steps necessary to produce a nuclear weapon even as it “continued to expand its uranium enrichment activities” far beyond the limits stipulated in the 2015 nuclear deal. The report also expressed “serious concerns” about possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. 

G7 Virtual Summit on Iran
In a joint statement on May 9, the G7 called on Iran to “refrain from further escalation of its nuclear activities” and to cease all development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering a bomb. The statement was issued amid growing international concern about Tehran’s breaches of the 2015 accord, including enriching uranium closer to the purity required to fuel a bomb. 

U.N. Rapporteur Concludes Controversial Trip
On May 18, a U.N. official warned that unilateral sanctions – including by the United States – have severely impacted government revenues, contributed to inflation and poverty, and led to scarcity of basic necessities in Iran. International human rights groups and Iranian activists warned that Tehran might use the special rapporteur's findings to blame its ills on foreign sanctions.

Missiles and Soleimani on Iran’s Qods Day
Coming out of a two-year pandemic, Iran celebrated its annual Qods Day – in support of Palestinians (“al Qods” is the Arabic name for Jerusalem) – with parades of towering ballistic missiles and portraits of former Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.

News Digest: Week of May 23
During the week of May 23, a 10-story building partially collapsed in Abadan, thousands of mourners attended the funeral of an assassinated IRGC colonel, and President Ebrahim Raisi visited Oman.  

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Webcast Event at USIP
Women and children are pictured on their way to a winter-time wedding in Bamyan, Afghanistan. (UN Photos)

Preventing Mass Atrocities in Afghanistan
How the U.S. and International Community Can Protect Hazaras and other Vulnerable Afghans

Ethnic and religious minorities in Afghanistan have historically faced persecution and violence, which intensified at the hands of various armed groups over the last four decades. Even before the Taliban returned to power last summer, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Early Warning Project ranked Afghanistan as the second most at-risk country for a new onset of mass killing. The situation hasn’t improved under the new Taliban government. The Hazara, an ethnic and religious minority group, remain a primary target of attacks. And many in the Sikh community have fled in recent months due to threats and harassment. These recent attacks and threats toward ethnic groups and other at-risk civilians once again raise the specter of mass atrocities. 


Date: Friday, June 3, 2022

Time: 9:00am - 10:30am EDT

Where: Online Event

To complicate matters, the country has plunged into a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban’s abrupt takeover of Kabul. And many of the same oppressive policies against women and girls that made the group international pariahs in the 1990s have been reintroduced.

Meanwhile, reports of crimes against humanity in Ukraine have brought significant international attention to prevention, protection and accountability efforts — as well as sparked debate over the lack of a similarly swift response to atrocities in Afghanistan and other conflict zones. U.S. policymakers and the international community now face the urgent challenge of assessing, monitoring and responding to the heightened risk for mass atrocities and protecting vulnerable civilian populations.

Join USIP and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide for a discussion with distinguished experts and activists to assess the atrocity risks faced by Hazaras and other vulnerable groups in Afghanistan and the key perpetrators driving the rising threat. The discussion will also consider how the risks for atrocities may evolve in the coming months, and what the United States and international community can do to prevent further violence against Afghan civilians.


Rina Amiri, keynote remarks 
U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights

Farkhondeh Akbari
Postdoctoral Fellow, Gender, Peace and Security Centre, Monash University

Lauren Baillie
Senior Program Officer, Atrocity Prevention, U.S Institute of Peace 

Shukria Dellawar
Legislative and Policy Manager for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Naomi Kikoler, moderator 
Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum 


Please contact Matthew Parkes at msparkes@usip.org.


Journalists should contact Paul Johnson at interviews@usip.org.

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