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Iran in February 2023

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Iran in February 2023

1 February 2023

  1. Iran Warns Pakistan To Complete Pipeline Or Face $18B Penalty (Iran International). The 25-year contract to export Iran’s natural gas through a pipeline to Pakistan was signed between the two countries in 2009 and was supposed to be implemented by 2015, but international and US sanctions against Iran and Washington’s pressure on Islamabad have prevented its implementation so far. Iranian officials who communicated with a visiting Pakistani delegation said that the US sanctions on Tehran are illegal, and Pakistan is bound to construct the 780-kilometer pipeline on its portion till February-March 2024 or pay a penalty of $18 billion. 
  2. Iran International Reveals Details of Smuggling Millions of Dollars from Iraq to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (Iran International). According to information obtained by the newspaper about the IRGC unit tasked with the smuggling of US dollars from Iraq to Iran, the Islamic Republic’s embassy in Iraq was also involved in the money laundering operations that aim to funnel the regime’s revenues from oil and gas exports to Iran.
  3. Azerbaijan Announces Arrest of Seven Iranian Spies (Iran International). The government in Baku carried out a raid on the Iranian media network headquarters of “Salam News” and “Interaz” TV channel. Last week, the Baku Serious Crimes Court held the first round of hearing the case of five other suspects, including the captain of the Caspian Sea oil fleet of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of  Azerbaijan also issued a “travel warning” to its citizens regarding travel to Iran. 
  4. Iran Warns US of Crushing Response to Any Aggression (Tasnim News).
    After US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Al Hadath that the US would consider “all options” available to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday that “the US government must note the legal and international responsibilities of its threats against Iran and it must think more about the political consequences of such provocative statements”…The spokesman underscored that the US government also knows that Iran will not tolerate any aggression against its territory and interests and will respond to aggressors decisively and in a manner that would make them regret their action. 

 

2 February 2023

  1. Tehran Claims Kurdish Groups in Iraq Involved in Latest Drone Attack (Iran International). Nour News Agency, affiliated with the Iranian regime’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), claimed on Wednesday that parts of a micro aerial vehicle and explosive materials were ordered by a foreign intelligence service and smuggled into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan.
  2. Iranian Army Leader Attends Parliament Session to Review Response Options (Tehran Times). Deputy Chief of the Iranian Army for Coordination Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari attended a session of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee. The session addressed Iran’s response options in the face of possible threats, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported…“The commander of operations of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Army also presented a report on the operational capabilities of the army’s ground, air and air defense forces,” Amouei told IRNA.
  3. IAEA Chides Iran For Undeclared Change To Uranium Enrichment Setup (Iran International). The International Atomic Energy Agency found that the interconnection between the two clusters of centrifuges changed during an unannounced inspection on January 21 at the Fordow Fuel enrichment Plant (FFEP), a site dug into a mountain where inspectors are stepping up checks after Iran said it would dramatically expand enrichment.
  4. Azerbaijan Says Number of People Arrested on Espionage for Iran Has Risen to 39 (Iran International). The Azerbaijani news agency APA quoted the ministry on Wednesday that 39 people have been detained as part of a special operation to uncover subversive activities in the country “under the guise of religion.” 
  5. Regime Newspaper:  Baku Should Not Take Orders from Tel Aviv (Tehran Times). Without mentioning the issue of the suspected Iranian spies arrested in Azerbaijan, the regime based newspaper Tehran Times slammed the Azerbaijani foreign ministry calls for international condemnation of the attack on its embassy in Tehran. 
  6. Iranian Couple Sentenced to 10 Years for Dancing in Support of Protests (Iran International). An Iranian court has sentenced two bloggers to ten and a half years in prison each for dancing in the streets in support of the nationwide protests. The couple were charged with “colluding with the intention of disrupting national security and promoting propaganda.” Besides the jail term, a two-year ban to use social media, and a two-year ban on leaving Iran has also been imposed on the couple. They have been charged with “encouraging corruption and public prostitution”. 
  7. Exclusive – Former Iranian Regime Official Calls for Limiting Khamenei’s Power, Resuming Ties with US (Iran International). Iran International received an audio recording from a January 30 meeting where Mohammad Reza Salehi, a logistics chief at the Presidential Office under President Hassan Rouhani, said that as a result of the uprising in Iran, reformists and moderates have four options before them:  Hoping for a foreign military attack; joining the protesters and helping the revolution in Iran; doing nothing and hoping that the regime will implode as a result of increasing financial corruption. The fourth and last option is working hard to bring about real and serious reforms in the structure of the regime by reducing the power of non-elected and non-accountable offices and strengthening the political structure’s republican nature and restoring the people’s right to determine their fate.

3 February 2023

  1. An Anti-Hijab Prisoner In Iran Seriously Ill After Hunger Strike (Iran International). A photo of Meysami along with a letter from Rajaei-Shahr prison in Karaj were published on social media Thursday, showing him in a horrible condition after losing weight. However, the political activist wrote in the letter to prison officials that “I will still insist on my three demands of stopping the execution of protesters, releasing six political prisoners, and stopping mandatory hijab.” The title of the political activist’s letter is “For the days of suffering and suffering and suffering”. 
  2. Iranian Banks Don’t Need SWIFT Anymore: Official (Tasnim Agency). Speaking to Tasnim, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iran for international affairs said Iranian banks do not need to use SWIFT for financial transactions anymore. Mohsen Karimi said all banks across Russia, all branches of Russian banks in other countries with access to SPFS (a Russian equivalent of the SWIFT financial transfer system) and 106 non-Russian banks in 13 countries are now connected to Iran’s interbank system, SEPAM.
  3. Macron Warns of Iran Nuclear ‘Consequences’ After Talks with Netanyahu (France 24). In a statement released after a dinner meeting in the Elysee Palace, Macron warned that if Tehran continues with the atomic project “would inevitably have consequences.”
  4. Lobbyist Alliance Met Secretly in New York to Support Reviving The Nuclear Deal (Al Arabiya). A coalition of progressive activists funded by George Soros, Charles Koch and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is secretly lobbying to revive the Iran nuclear deal by linking it to the Iranian human rights movement, according to internal correspondence obtained by The Washington Free Beacon. Activist groups plan to “pursue a two-track legislative agenda, in which they will find a way through legislation to give cover for pro-deal Democrats by supporting Iranian women and Iranian human rights, without specifying in any way how to revive the nuclear deal, while at the same time building a coalition of members of both chambers.” 

9 February 2023

  1. Iran-Russia Ties Growing: Shamkhani (Tasnim News). Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani hailed the expansion of relations with Russia in different fields. Shamkhani arrived in Moscow on Tuesday to take part in the fifth session of the regional security dialogue, which focuses on the situation in Afghanistan.
  2. In “Warning Sign” For US, Iranian Warships Are Reportedly Sailing Toward Panama Canal (IranWire). After a stopover in Brazil, two Iranian naval ships are reportedly sailing toward the strategic Panama Canal, as the Islamic Republic seeks to project power into the Americas…The Iranian-made Mowj-class destroyer Dena and the logistics ship Makran have been navigating around the world since September 22, 2022, to “show the growing military and naval power of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

10 February 2023

  1. Iran Seeks to Expand its Presence to Idlib Under Cover of Earthquake Relief (Al Sharq Al-Awsat). Iranian media reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian had informed the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoliaric Eger, that Tehran was ready to send rescue teams to Idlib, Syria, urgently. Syrian opposition sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abdollahian’s statements reflect an Iranian effort to expand further in northern Syria and reach Idlib by exploiting a humanitarian catastrophe at the level of the earthquake and under the pretext of transporting aid through rescue teams.
  2. Iranian Official Says China Will Receive Thousands of Iranian Drones (Iran International) An adviser to Iran’s minister of intelligence has claimed that 90 countries are “customers” of Iranian drones, and China is in the “queue” to receive 15,000 of these drones.
  3. US Sanctions Firms Involved in Iranian Oil Smuggling to Asia (Iran Wire). On Thursday the US Treasury Department announced sanctions on six Iran-based petrochemical manufacturers or their subsidiaries and three companies in Malaysia and Singapore that are involved in facilitating the sale and shipment of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum. 

15 February 2023

 

  1. Von Der Leyen:  EU Will Sanction Iran for Providing Arms to Russia’s War in Ukraine (Iran International). The head of the European Commission said: “Hundreds of UAVs have also been produced in Iran, which are used by Russia in the war against Ukraine. “These Iranian drones are killing Ukrainian civilians…so for the first time we are also proposing sanctions targeting Iranian economic entities, including those associated with the IRGC.”
  2. Iran and China Ink 20 Cooperation Deals During Raisi’s Visit to Beijing (Tasnim News). The agreements entail cooperation in diverse fields including crisis management, tourism, information and communications technology, environment, international trade, intellectual property, agriculture, exports, health and medical sector, media activities, sports and cultural heritage.
  3. Accused of Assassinating Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the New al-Qaeda Leader Resides in Iran (Al Hadath). An Egyptian security source told Al-Arabiya.net that new al-Qaeda leader Saif al-Adel’s real name was Muhammad Salah al-Thien Zaidan, and he was in command of the military wing of al-Qaeda. Western intelligence services confused him with Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi, the former leader of the organization, as they believed that Makkawi was the same as Saif al-Adl.

16 February 2023

  1. Chinese Are No Longer Willing To Work On Iran Oil Projects (Iran International). The development comes as President Ebrahim Raisi in is Beijing this week on an official visit discussing the implementation of a 25-year cooperation pact signed in 2021 as a general outline, but details have not been worked out. However, according to moderate news website Rouydad 24, Moradi did not mention why the project is now being carried out by Iranian experts. 
  2. US Confirms That Al Qaeda Top Man Is In Iran (Iran International). Seif al-Adel, the apparent new leader of al Qaeda is in Iran, a United Nations report has said and the United States confirmed the information on Wednesday. State Department spokesperson Ned Price was asked during his daily press briefing to comment on the UN report. He said: “Our assessment aligns with that of the UN…offering safe haven to al Qaeda is another example of Iran’s wide-ranging support for terrorism, its destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond.”
  3. After five months of protests…the Iranian opposition seeks to unify its ranks (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Since the revolution of 1979, opponents of the Iranian regime have clashed with each other as much as they clashed with the apparatus of power in Tehran. Today, however, there is an effort to reach a consensus to turn the demonstrations into an alternative political proposition…On February 10, Georgetown University in Washington hosted a conference of exiled opposition figures who, until recently, would not speak to each other. Among these figures are Masih Alinejad, who campaigns against the veil, Hamid Ismailiyun, a spokesman for the relatives of the victims of the Ukrainian plane crash that was shot down by Iran in 2020, and Reza Pahlavi, son of the Shah who was overthrown by the revolution in 1979.

17 February 2023

  1. China and Iran Call for Full Implementation of the JCPOA (Tehran Times). Raisi and Xi insisted that Washington’s unilateral pullout from the JCPOA is the root cause of the current stalemate in the negotiations to revive the landmark agreement. In their joint statement which was issued at the end of Raisi’s three-day state visit to Beijing, the two presidents stressed the importance of lifting sanctions and ensuring Iran’s economic benefits as important components of the JCPOA.
  2. Iran Warns Regional Countries of US Divisive Policies (Tasnim Agency). Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized the statement issued by the United States and the Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) about Iran’s regional destabilizing policies. Kanani called the accusations “oft-repeated”, “interventionist”, and cited examples of the US’s “destructive” and “interventionist” policies in the region, including sales of weapons to regional states, support for Takfiri terrorism, and contribution to the Yemeni conflict.
  3. UK Turns Counter-Terrorism Attention To Iran, Russia, And China (Iran International). The announcement signaled a shift from focusing on Islamic extremism to dangers posed by adversarial states. The September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and deadly incidents in Britain made tackling Islamist plots the priority for counter-terrorism police, with resources focused on the threat from home-grown and foreign-based militants.

22 February 2023

  1. Iranian Regime Sentences a Dual German National to Death (Bas News). Germany has condemned Iran for the death sentence handed down by the Tehran Revolutionary Court to Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German national accused of leading the Tondar group, which is banned as a “terrorist” organization by Iran. Germany has declared two employees of the Iranian embassy persona non grata and ordered them to leave the country in protest over Iran sentencing a German national to death, a statement from the foreign office said on Wednesday. Another Iranian Austrian dual national was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for charges of espionage. 
  2. Iranian Opposition Figure Says Britain Should Close Iran’s Embassy Instead of Advising Iran International to Relocate (Iran International). Iranian opposition figure Masih Alinejad says the UK government should have closed the Iranian embassy instead of advising Iran International to relocate to the US in response to the Iranian regime’s threats. On February 22, the IRGC top commander Salami said the threats against Iran International journalists which forced the channel to stop its broadcasting in the UK and move to the US “show how far the Islamic Revolution’s realm of power, field of infiltration and radius of influence has extended.”
  3. Exclusive:  Secret Letter Reveals Iran’s Predicament In Controlling Food Prices (Iran International). In the confidential letter, dated February 5, the secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani briefed President Ebrahim Raisi of a meeting with food importers and other officials of the agriculture ministry. According to the letter, the country will also face a shortage of maize or corn within one or two months as Brazil – which had been replaced by many countries as the main exporter – has run out of the produce and Ukraine will not supply Iran with its needed corn.
  4. Iran Uses Secret Prisons to Force Confessions From Protesters (CNN). The network has been able to find the location of more than 40 unofficial torture centers and undeclared secret prisons in Iran, which are located in government-controlled facilities such as the basement of mosques.
  5. Iran Says IAEA Inspectors in Tehran Are Resolving Nuclear Enrichment Ambiguities (Al Arabiya). “Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency are in Tehran and have been starting negotiations, visits and checks… Ambiguities created by an inspector are being resolved,” the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said.

23 February 2023

  1. Iranian Regime Issues Counter-Sanctions Against Europe (Tehran Times). The counter-sanctions list includes 15 current and former European officials, including Isabelle Lonvis-Rome, France’s Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity, and Equal Opportunities; Roland Lescure, France’s Minister Delegate for Industry; Josef Schuster, Germany’s Central Council of Jews; Alex Benjamin, Europe Israel Public Affairs’ Director; Jamie M. Fly, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and head of Ger. It also lists 13 European organizations, including Christians for Israel, the European Coalition for Israel, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel, the Eurospike armaments manufacturer, and six German defense contractors. Eight more British citizens are included on the list, including Alan Jacob, a member of The Jewish Chronicle’s board of directors, Matthew Jonathan Jukes, assistant commissioner for specialist operations for the Metropolitan Police Service, and six military officers.
  2. Exiled Prince Says if World Supports Protests, Iran’s Regime Won’t Last Long (Iran International). During a conference in the European American Press Club (EAPC) in Paris on Wednesday, Prince Reza Pahlavi said that if Western countries adopt the policy of “maximum support” for the current protests, the regime will not last long. It would take months as opposed to years, if the international community stands behind the popular protests.
  3. Iranian Defense Minister Calls for Withdrawal of US Occupying Forces from Syria (Tasnim Agency). Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani and his Syrian counterpart, Lieutenant General Ali Mahmoud Abbas, met in Tehran on Wednesday, where Ashtiani condemned the presence of American forces in Syria as “destabilizing.”
  4. The Telegraph:  White House is Pressuring London not to Designate Revolutionary Guards as Terrorists (Al Mayadeen). The British newspaper, The Telegraph , reported that US President Joe Biden’s administration is putting pressure on the United Kingdom to prevent the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a “terrorist organization ,” noting that “the British government can play a major diplomatic role with Tehran” that “will be undermined if the Revolutionary Guards are banned.”
  5. Site linked to Khamenei acknowledges UN accusations about 84% Enrichment of Uranium (Al Hadath). The admission came from the Iranian “Noor News” website, which is linked to the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, which is supervised by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

27 February 2023

 

  1. IRGC Commander Repeats Threat To Kill Trump, Pompeo (Iran International). Iran has developed a cruise missile with a range of 1,650 km, a top IRGC commander claimed Friday, as he threatened to kill former US President Donald Trump. Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace force, said Iran did not intend to kill “poor soldiers” when it launched a ballistic missile attack on US-led forces in Iraq days after Iranian military commander Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike on January 3, 2020 in Baghdad. “God willing, we are looking to kill Trump, (Former Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo…and military commanders who issued the order (to kill Soleimani) should be killed,” Hajizadeh said in the television interview.
  2. Iran Experiencing New Strikes, Protests As Rial Keeps Falling (Iran International). Iran witnessed another wave of daily protests and strikes Sunday, as its currency sank leaving ordinary people to wonder how they can afford minimum necessities. Bakers held a gathering in Tehran, while workers of Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane complex in the southwestern Khuzestan province, the Esfahan Steel Company in central Iran, and workers in several southern cities, where most of oil and gas companies are located, were on strike. The rial’s plunge to 575,000 to the dollar on Saturday exacerbated chaos in several of Iran’s major markets and brought many businesses to near standstill.
  3. IRGC Acquires Millions of Dollars in the Name of “Resistance” Through Fake Companies in Iraq (Iran International). Iran International obtained exclusive information about a money laundering network affiliated with the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), referring to a series of companies affiliated with IRGC leaders that acquire millions of dollars in the name of “resistance” and “strategic depth” through sham transactions. According to these documents, commanders of the IRGC-QF have set up a series of fake construction companies in Iran and Iraq, whose main goal is money laundering and financial support for terrorism. According to information received by “Iran International,” the Quds Force’s money laundering network is run under the supervision of Hamid Abdullah, commander of the 400th unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that manages terrorist operations abroad…
  4. Smuggling Gold from Venezuela:  An Iranian Path to Finance Hezbollah and Circumvent Sanctions (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, issued an order to reveal the “secret path that Iran follows to finance the Lebanese (Hezbollah) by circumventing the sanctions regime,” in which he claims that tens of kilograms of gold arrived from Venezuela to Europe and Syria, and were sold, and the proceeds went to Beirut. The document published the names of a number of personalities involved in the smuggling operation, led by the Iranian businessman Badr al-Din Naimi Mousavi, the owner of two real estate companies registered in Britain, “Lotus Universal” and “Stratton View Properties Limited,” and the international trade company “Trading ACS” registered in Dubai.
  5. Burns Warns of Tehran’s Progress in Uranium and Ballistic Enrichment (Al Sharq Al Awsat). CIA Director William Burns warned that Iran could raise the degree of enrichment of uranium to the 90 percent purity needed to produce nuclear weapons within weeks, if it wanted to. In response to a question about whether Iran’s leaders have taken a decision to seek nuclear weapons, he said:  “As far as we know, we do not believe that the leader in Iran (Khamenei) has taken a decision to resume the (nuclear) weapons program, which we estimate was suspended or stopped at the end of 2003. But the enrichment programs are clearly progressing a lot.” With regard to missile systems, Burns said, “Their capabilities to deliver a nuclear weapon through these missiles have also advanced…”

28 February 2023

  1. IRGC Commander Threatens to Attack European Union States (Iran International). The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has threatened European countries that the Islamic Republic can target them by increasing the range of its weapons. In remarks in the southern city of Abadan on Monday, the IRGC commander Hossein Salami said Europe is a pioneer in imposing sanctions against the Iranian people, and European countries have become a place for gatherings of “anti-Iranian separatists and fugitives.” “We have the ability to increase the range of weapons and strike them seriously, but we have not yet done so,” he added. “We warn them. The lives of Europeans depend on oil and security, and they should be careful and not endanger themselves.”
  2. Trading in Tehran Bazaars Comes to a Halt Amid Currency’s Fall (Iran International). Trading in Tehran markets has largely come to a halt as the currency rial is near its all-time low, Iran International has learned from merchants and traders. A textile trader told Iran International that “For now we have stopped selling our goods because we have no guarantee we can refill our stocks”…Local media reported that the Central Bank of Iran intervened in the currency market by injecting $700 million in UAE dirhams on Sunday and the rial marginally rose from its all-time low of 600,000 against the US dollar. But such a sizeable intervention has not produced the desired result of stabilizing the rial.

 

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