Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Alex Potcovaru
Monday, April 30, 2018, 2:44 PM

North Korea discussed the possibility of giving up its nuclear weapons in exchange for a pledge from the United States to not attack it and a formal resolution to the Korean War, the Associated Press reports. The statements from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un came at a historic summit with South Korea held over the weekend. Kim also promised to shutter North Korea’s nuclear test site and allow experts and journalists from South Korea and the U.S. to receive information about the process. U.S. officials stressed the necessity of verifiable progress that goes beyond rhetoric. Some experts see Kim’s failure to discuss timetables or a verification process for so-called “denuclearization” as disappointing, but others noted Kim’s commitment as a positive step given his previous statements and demands, which sought an expansion of North Korea’s nuclear capability.

Russia has expressed significant interest in blockchain, leading some to grow concerned about individual countries’ power to influence newly emerging standards for the technology, the New York Times reports. At a meeting of the International Standards Organization last year, a Russian delegate and intelligence agent was reported to have said that the blockchain will “belong” to the Russians. Experts worry that countries could purposely advocate for standards that expose the blockchain to surveillance or security flaws so that the governments can achieve their own strategic objectives. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to the Middle East this weekend where he took a hardline stance on Iran and met with both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuters reports. He criticized Iran’s “destabilizing and malgin activities” and said that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, barring significant improvements to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. President Donald Trump will decide on May 12 whether the United States will remain as a party to the deal. Pompeo also urged Gulf allies to contribute both troops and funds to help stabilize parts of Iraq and Syria.

Thousands of Russian citizens took to the streets of Moscow today, protesting the Russian government’s attempted ban of the encrypted-messaging app Telegram, Al Jazeera reports. Telegram has refused to provide the encryption keys to Russian security services, which could allow them to read the messages sent through the app. Russian communications censor Roskomnadzor attempted to suspend use of the app by blocking millions of IP addresses. However, it has been unable to completely stop the use of the service and also disrupted other companies in the process.

Similarly, the Iranian judiciary announced a ban on Telegram, citing national security, Reuters reports. Protests over economic conditions broke out in over 80 cities in Iran in January of this year, with some officials claiming that Telegram was used to help organize the rallies. The judiciary has said that all internet service providers in Iran must work to block the app beginning Monday.

Coordinated bombings in Kabul this morning killed and wounded dozens, including first responders and journalists, the Times reports. While details continue to emerge, it appears that two separate explosions occurred, the first at 8 a.m. local time, followed by a second blast around 30 minutes later. Separately, outside a mosque in Kandahar, a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into another vehicle, causing an explosion that killed 11 children and injured 16 others.

ICYMI: Last Weekend on Lawfare

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Katerina Papatheodorou argued that the United States needs a comprehensive approach to prevent and counter violent extremism.

Orin Kerr considered whether Donald Trump Jr. admitted to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Quinta Jurecic analyzed recent developments in the Mueller protection legislation.

Matthew Kahn posted the Lawfare Podcast, a conversation between Matt Axelrod, Bob Bauer, John Bellinger, Jack Goldsmith, and Don Verrilli at Georgetown law school on protecting norms at the Justice Department.

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