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UN arms embargo on Iran expires as world ignores Trump administration's "snapback" claims

A 13-year United Nations ban on Iran's ability to buy and sell conventional arms expired on Sunday over the objections of the U.S, which insisted that all UN sanctions on Iran had been reimposed under the "snapback" process of the 2015 nuclear agreement — even though President Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

Why it matters: The expiration of the arms embargo will allow Iran to buy advanced weapons systems from countries like Russia and China, upgrading military equipment that dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to the AP.


The big picture: The U.S. tried and failed in August to indefinitely extend the arms embargo, but the UN — including European allies Germany, France and the United Kingdom — dismissed the effort as having no legal basis.

  • In response, Trump signed an executive order would impose sanctions on any person or entity that contributes to the transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran or is engaged in providing training and financial support related to those weapons.
  • The Trump administration hopes that the wide-ranging sanctions will discourage governments and private companies from buying or selling arms to Iran in fear they will be sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Between the lines: Iran, whose economy has largely been crippled by the Trump administration's campaign of "maximum pressure" sanctions, insisted that it has no intention of going on a weapons "buying spree," which would likely subject other countries to U.S. retaliation.

  • The Islamic Republic's military has long been outmatched by regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have purchased billions of dollars worth of advanced U.S. arms.
  • Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have continued to run high since the January killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The U.S. has warned Iraqi leaders that it will shutter its embassy in Baghdad if frequent rocket attacks by Iranian-backed militias do not subside.

What they're saying: "Today's normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region," Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

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The coronavirus is worsening economic inequality around the world

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

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Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

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The next big political war: redistricting

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

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Vaccinations, relief timing dominate call among bipartisan group of 16 senators

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

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Progressives use billboard to pressure Chuck Schumer to end Senate filibuster

A progressive coalition is pressuring Chuck Schumer on his home turf by running a digital billboard in Times Square urging the new majority leader to end the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Schumer is up for re-election in 2o22 and could face a challenger, and he's also spearheading his party's broader effort to hold onto its narrow congressional majorities.

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U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

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