Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear projects | Top Dems says State working on new Saudi arms sale | 34-year-old Army reservist ID'd as third military COVID-19 death

Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear projects | Top Dems says State working on new Saudi arms sale | 34-year-old Army reservist ID'd as third military COVID-19 death
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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE:  The Trump administration dealt another blow Wednesday to the Iran nuclear deal, ending waivers that allowed European, Chinese and Russian companies to work on Iranian civil nuclear projects without risking U.S. sanctions.

The projects were meant to repurpose nuclear sites for peaceful means and improve infrastructure to comply with safety regulations. But the Trump administration argued they allowed Tehran to continue its efforts to pursue a nuclear weapon.

“Today, I am ending the sanctions waiver for JCPOA-related projects in Iran, effective in 60 days,” Pompeo tweeted Wednesday, using the acronym for the official name of the nuclear deal. “Iran’s continued nuclear escalation makes clear this cooperation must end. Further attempts at nuclear extortion will only bring greater pressure on the regime.”

The specifics: The waivers being eliminated relate to projects at Iran’s Arak heavy water research reactor, regulation of enriched uranium at the Tehran Research Reactor and the disposal of spent and scrap research reactor fuel out of Iran. The U.S. will give companies working at these sites 60 days to come into compliance before risking sanctions.

A separate waiver for the Bushehr nuclear power plant “to ensure safety of operations” is being extended for another days 90 days.

“We will continue to closely monitor all developments in Iran’s nuclear program and can modify this waiver at any time,” Pompeo said in a statement released by the State Department.

Hawks cheer: Iran hawks have been pushing the Trump administration to end the waivers for months.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHow conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle Trump administration grants funding extension for Texas testing sites MORE (R-Texas) applauded Wednesday’s announcement as t a "critical step toward tearing up the catastrophic Obama-Iran nuclear deal once and for all."

"Enough was enough. Now it's time for the U.S. to finally and irreversibly end what remains of the deal and the benefits that Iran gets from it by invoking the sanctions snapback described in the deal's United Nations resolution," Cruz said in a statement. "Unless we do so the U.N. arms embargo and ballistic missile bans will inevitably expire, allowing Russia and China to start selling billions of dollars of weapons to Iran."

TOP DEM ALLEGES NEW SAUDI ARMS SALE IN THE WORKS: The Trump administration is pursuing another arms sale to Saudi Arabia, a top Democratic senator said Wednesday.

In an op-ed published on CNN’s website Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO Senate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers MORE (D-N.J.) said he has received a draft document that shows the administration is pursuing a previously undisclosed sale.

“Before we went into pandemic lockdown, I received draft State Department documentation that it is now pursuing this previously undisclosed sale — details of which have not yet been made public — even though the Saudis seemingly want out of their failed and brutal war in Yemen, and despite the fact that a bipartisan majority in Congress rejected previous sales of these weapons,” Menendez wrote.

“The administration has refused to answer our fundamental questions to justify this new sale and articulate how it would be consistent with U.S. values and national security objectives,” he added.

The State Department declined to comment on the op-ed, with a spokesperson saying that “as a matter of policy, we do not comment upon or confirm proposed defense sales until they have been formally notified to Congress.”

Context: Menendez’s op-ed comes as a 2019 arms deal with the Saudis and other Gulf allies is under new scrutiny following President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' MORE’s firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. After Linick was fired, congressional Democrats revealed he was investigating the sales and suggested his ouster was related to the investigation.

The 22 arms sales, worth $8.1 billion, were controversial because Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFeds investigating allegations TikTok failed to protect children's privacy: report Hillicon Valley: Pompeo floats TikTok ban | Civil rights groups slam Facebook after call | Election security funding included in proposal Top US general doubtful Russian bounties led to American deaths in Afghanistan MORE invoked little-used emergency authorities to push them through without a 30-day congressional review period.

LATEST MILITARY CORONAVIRUS FATALITY ID’D: The Army has identified the third service member to die from the coronavirus as a 34-year-old reservist from Illinois.

Sgt. Simon Zamudio died Friday from complications related to COVID-19, the Army Reserve said in a statement Wednesday. The Pentagon first noted the death in figures released Tuesday.

An online obituary shared by the Army Reserve said Zamudio, who was born in Phoenix and was living in Carpentersville, Ill., died at a hospital in suburban Chicago. He is survived by a wife and a daughter, according to the obituary.

Zamudio was not on active orders at the time of his death, nor had he been one of the 3,000 Army reservists mobilized as part of the military’s domestic coronavirus response, Army Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Simon Flake confirmed.

Zamudio enlisted in the Army Reserve in October 2015 and was assigned to the 371st Theater Movement Control Element at Fort Sheridan, Ill., the statement said.

He was promoted to the rank of sergeant April 1 and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, the statement added.

Latest numbers: In the total, the Pentagon reported 9,276 cumulative coronavirus cases Wednesday.

That includes 6,168 service members, including 169 who have been hospitalized and 3,474 who have recovered.

The death toll did not increase Wednesday, standing at 35 people. In addition to the three service members, 18 civilians, five dependents and nine contractors have died.


Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCritiquing two new diversity initiatives in the US military Duckworth to block military confirmations until Esper proves Vindman will be promoted House panel votes to limit Trump's Germany withdrawal MORE, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and senior enlisted advisor to the chairman Ramón "CZ" Colón-López will hold a virtual town hall about COVID-19 at 9:30 a.m. Livestream at https://bit.ly/2B2E2sk.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments will host a virtual roundtable on the U.S.-China strategic balance after COVID-19, featuring deputy assistant secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck, at 2 p.m. https://bit.ly/3er54rT

Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, will speak about the Guard’s coronavirus response at 3:30 p.m. in a webinar hosted by the Atlantic Council. https://bit.ly/2ZIu35W


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