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Iran in September 2023

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Iran in September 2023

September 1, 2023

  1. Iran Alleges Slowed Uranium Enrichment Amid Oil Surge (Iran International). Iran is slowing its 60% uranium enrichment, according to an upcoming IAEA report. This coincides with U.S.-Iran talks to ease sanctions and a recent surge in Iranian oil exports, fueling speculation of an informal deal between the two nations.
  2. Iran Warns of Retaliation for Israeli Airstrikes on Syrian Airport (Rudaw). Iran’s foreign minister warns of retaliation against Israel for its airstrikes in Syria, specifically mentioning damage to Aleppo’s airport. The warning comes amidst a long-running shadow war between Iran and Israel, involving covert military actions and cyber-attacks. No casualties were reported in the recent Aleppo strike.
  3.  Hacktivist Group Unveils Iranian State Surveillance Tools (Biometricupdate.com). Hacktivist group GhostSec claims to have exposed a facial recognition system used by Iran for domestic surveillance. The breach revealed 26GB of data, including source code for multiple surveillance systems. The group warns that Iran’s surveillance extends beyond borders and poses a threat to citizen privacy.

September 6, 2023

  1. Iran Arrests Uncle of Deceased Activist Mahsa Amini Before Anniversary (Times of Israel). Ahead of the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, Iranian authorities arrested her uncle, Safa Aeli, in Saqez, western Iran. Rights groups report that security forces forcibly entered Aeli’s home without legal documentation and took him to an undisclosed location.
  2. Iranian Air Force to Manufacture Kaman-12 and Kaman-22 Drones (IRNA). Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi, announced plans to manufacture drones, including the Kaman-12 and Kaman-22 models. The move is part of IRIAF’s ongoing efforts to modernize and expand its operational capacities.
  3. Russia and Iran Negotiate New Treaty for Bilateral Cooperation (Iran International). Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko announced that Russia and Iran are in talks to formulate a new treaty aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation. The announcement underscores the positive momentum in Russia-Iran relations.

September 7, 2023

  1. Iranian Dissident in Finland Targeted by Imam, Calls to Shut Down Iran-Linked Mosque (Iran International). An Iranian dissident in Finland, Parvin Shokri, has her phone stolen by an imam linked to an Iran-affiliated mosque. The incident, caught on a live Instagram stream, fuels calls among Iranians in Finland to shut down the mosque. Shokri was returning from an anti-regime protest when targeted.
  2. Iran Claims to Disrupt Opposition Network Planning Riots, Alleges US Support (IRNA). Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and IRGC Intelligence Unit assert they’ve disrupted an opposition network supported by the US State Department and US-based organizations. The group, accused of planning riots and training activists, reportedly held a workshop at SOAS University of London and planned online meetings for civil and women activists.
  3. Iran Demands Lifting of All Arms Sanctions Amid Stalled Nuclear Deal Talks (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani insists that all arms sanctions on Iran will expire on October 18, as per the nuclear deal’s sunset clause. This comes despite faltering efforts to revive the agreement. Ashtiani also expresses readiness for defense relations with independent and regional countries.
  4. Iran’s Envoy to Italy Meets with CEOs to Strengthen Bilateral Trade (Tasnim News). Iran’s Ambassador to Italy, Mohammad Reza Sabouri, meets with senior CEOs of Italian companies in Rome to bolster bilateral trade and economic relations. The meeting included representatives from various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, mining, petrochemicals, and road construction.

September 8, 2023

  1. Iranian Opposition Rallies: Exiled Prince and Israeli Minister Seek Regime Change (Iran International). Iran’s exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi and Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel are both rallying for unity among Iranians opposed to the current regime. Pahlavi called for national protests to topple the Iranian government on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death in custody. He specifically addressed various groups suffering under the regime and warned the Islamic Republic leaders against any violence towards protestors. Gamliel, who recently met Iranian journalists and activists in London, emphasized the need to sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and support the Iranian people. She also urged Western leaders to impose sanctions on Iran and the IRGC, emphasizing that the issue is a global concern. Both figures have met in the past, signifying a growing alliance against the Iranian regime.
  2. Suspected Iranian Spy Escapes UK Prison: Heightened Security at Ports and Airports (Middle East Eye). Daniel Khalife, a man suspected of spying for Iran, escaped from Wandsworth prison in the UK. Khalife was facing charges of collecting information useful to an enemy, believed to be Iran, among other terror-related offenses. He was last seen in a chef’s uniform, having worked in the prison kitchen, and is thought to have escaped by clinging to a delivery van. Although authorities have put ports and airports on high alert, they believe he is still in the London area and do not consider him a threat to the wider public. Khalife had also faced charges for planting a hoax bomb at a Royal Air Force base earlier this year. Iran has not commented on the allegations.
  3. U.S. Court Unseals Case of Seized Iranian Tanker Suez Rajan Following Advocacy Group’s Report (Iran International). Documents unsealed in a U.S. court revealed that the tanker Suez Rajan was seized by the U.S. government, marking the first time U.S. prosecutors acknowledged the confiscation of around one million barrels of Iranian crude. The case came to light in February when the advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran reported the tanker’s role in illicitly transferring Iranian oil in the South China Sea. The vessel was stranded off Singapore’s coast for months before sailing to the Gulf of Mexico, suggesting a U.S. seizure of the oil.

September 11, 2023

  1. Iran and Russia Collaborate on Research Spacecraft (Tasnim News). Prominent universities in Iran and Russia have teamed up for a two-year project to build a research spacecraft. The University of Tehran and Moscow State University are already working on the initiative, with support from Iran’s vice president and a dedicated secretariat. The collaboration reflects the strengthening ties between the two nations across various sectors, including space exploration, as highlighted by Iran’s previous satellite launch with Russian assistance.
  2. Iran Heightens Security Ahead of Anniversary Protests  (Iran International). Iran bolsters security measures for Mahsa Amini’s death anniversary, deploying checkpoints, more personnel, and dress code warnings. Despite intimidation, activists urge mass demonstrations. Last year’s crackdown caused 500+ civilian deaths, but calls for protests persist. Exiled figures like Reza Pahlavi and Queen Farah Pahlavi call for unity against regime repression. “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement gains momentum, addressing poverty and discrimination before the anniversary.
  3. Iranian Embassy in Paris Reports Attack, Says Situation Under Control (Anadolu Agency). The Iranian Embassy in Paris confirmed that the situation is “under control” following reports of an attack on the diplomatic compound. The attack, attributed to anti-revolutionary elements, caused damage to the embassy’s backdoor but did not disrupt consulate activities. While no group claimed responsibility, some Iranian media outlets suggested the involvement of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MKO), an anti-Iran opposition group. 
  4. Dangerous Fugitive Prisoner Accused of Terrorism Escapes British Prison in Daring Cook Disguise (Al Hadath). Daniel Abed Khalifa, a fugitive prisoner accused of spying for Iran and terrorism-related charges, managed to escape from a British prison using a clever disguise. The 21-year-old former soldier in the British Army disguised himself as a cook and clung to the bottom of a food delivery truck, escaping from Jonesworth prison in South London. After the truck left the prison walls, Khalifa separated from it and disappeared into the city. Security forces are on high alert, searching for the fugitive.

September 12, 2023

  1. Iran Will Not Allow Geopolitical Change in Region: Top MP (IRNA). Ali Nikzad, a top Iranian MP, reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to not allowing geopolitical changes in the region. He urged neighboring countries, including Azerbaijan, to respect international borders and highlighted Iran’s historical cooperation with Azerbaijan. Nikzad also cautioned against interference by the “illegitimate Zionist regime” and encouraged preserving bilateral relations based on cultural and religious ties while tensions persist along the Azerbaijan-Armenia border.
  2. Smuggling Iranian Oil into Pakistan: 90 Govt Officials, 29 Politicians Found Involved (Business Recorder). Pakistan faces an annual loss of over Rs60 billion due to the smuggling of 2.81 billion liters of Iranian oil, implicating 90 government officials and 29 politicians. The Civil Intelligence Agency’s report, submitted to the Prime Minister House, also links oil smuggling proceeds to terrorist activities. The report reveals that 995 petrol stations across Pakistan sell smuggled Iranian oil, including Pakistan State Oil (PSO) vehicles in transportation. Iranian oil is smuggled into Pakistan using Iranian vehicles known as Zamyad, with 76 sellers near the border engaged in the illicit trade.
  3. Trade Offers Economic Diplomacy Channel Between UAE And Iran (Iran International). As diplomatic ties between the United Arab Emirates and Iran strengthen, economic and trade associations are also growing…The two countries resumed diplomatic relations last year, the UAE sending its ambassador back to Tehran after six years of Cold War-style ties…The UAE downgraded its ties with Iran after Saudi Arabia severed its relations with Tehran in January 2016. 
  4. Iraq Destination of 18% of Iran’s Exports in 5 Months (Tasnim News). Iran exported more than $3.5 billion worth of non-oil products to neighboring Iraq in the first five months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21 to August 22), meaning that the Arab country accounted for 18.3 percent of Iran’s total export share in this period…Iran and Iraq have targeted $20 billion in trade, Chairman of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce Yahya Al-e Es’hagh stated.

September 13, 2023

  1. US Approves $6 Billion Transfer for Iran in Prisoner Exchange Deal (The National News). The Biden administration has enabled the release of five American detainees in Iran by permitting international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar. This move is part of a prisoner exchange agreement that also involves the release of five Iranian citizens held in the US. Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the deal, which was officially disclosed to Congress on Monday.
  2. Iran Warns KRG About Anti-Iran Terrorists (Tasnim News). Iran’s foreign minister expressed concerns over the presence of terrorists in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, highlighting that it contradicts friendly relations with Tehran and goes against Iraq’s constitution. This was discussed during a meeting between the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Bafel Talabani, in Tehran.
  3. Iraq Relocates Iranian Kurdish Fighters Away From Border (Reuters). Iraq has initiated the relocation of Iranian Kurdish groups from border areas with Iran to more distant camps as part of a security agreement between Iraq and Iran. This move is intended to enhance border security and address concerns about Kurdish dissidents posing a threat to Iran’s security in the region.
  4. Australia Imposes New Sanctions Targeting Iranian Rights Violators (ABC News). Australia has announced additional sanctions and travel bans against Iranian individuals involved in oppressing women and girls, including the spokesperson for Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and the head of Iran’s cyber police. These measures come in response to ongoing human rights violations and call for accountability in the case of Mahsa Jina Amini’s death, while expressing solidarity with Iranian women and girls resisting repression.

September 14, 2023

  1. Global Call for Iran to Address Nuclear Program Questions (VOA). Over 60 countries have called on Iran to provide immediate answers regarding its nuclear program, including the whereabouts of materials from undisclosed facilities. The joint statement was delivered during an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna. The nations also seek clarification on Iran’s uranium stockpile and have criticized Tehran for denying entry visas to specific IAEA inspectors.
  2. Iran Regains Third Place in OPEC Oil Production (Bne Intellinews). Iran is now the third-largest crude oil producer in OPEC, producing 3 million barrels per day in August. This increase was the highest among OPEC members, with a rise of 143,000 barrels per day compared to July. Saudi Arabia’s voluntary production cut and Russia’s extended cut contributed to Iran’s rise. The relaxation of US sanctions also facilitated Iran’s production boost. Nigeria and Iraq also increased their oil production.
  3. Iranian Dissident Calls on the West not to Appease The Regime (Iran International). Iranian dissident Hamed Esmaeilion calls on the West not to appease the regime and support the anti-regime movement. He accuses the regime of hostage-taking and aligning with China and Russia to pressure the West. Esmaeilion, who lost his wife and daughter in the 2020 flight downing by the IRGC, pledges solidarity with Iranians and their pursuit of freedom and justice.
  4. Iran’s Draconian Hijab Law Threatens 10-Year Prison Terms (The Guardian). Iran is considering harsher laws that could imprison women for up to a decade for not wearing the hijab. UN experts label this stricter dress code as “gender apartheid.” The proposal follows the death of Mahsa Amini, detained for incorrect hijab usage, leading to widespread protests. Iranian human rights lawyer Hossein Raeesi criticizes the draft law for equating hijab violations with serious crimes like murder and drug trafficking.
  5. US House Passes New Sanctions Bill Targeting Iran(Time Turk). The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill, “Mahsa Amini for Human Rights and Security Accountability,” aimed at imposing stricter sanctions on senior Iranian officials. The bill received 410 votes in favor and 3 against. It requires Senate approval and President Joe Biden’s signature to become law. Representative Michael McCaul stated it aims to hold Iran accountable for human rights violations.

September 15, 2023

  1. IRGC Seizes Two Fuel Tankers in Persian Gulf (The Jerusalem Post). Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) captured two Panama-flagged fuel tankers in the northern Persian Gulf, detaining 37 crew members from different nations. The IRGC asserted that the tankers were engaged in fuel smuggling.
  2. Iran Warns UAE Over Island Claims, Citing Regional Security Concerns (Al Jazeera). Iran’s Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to the Supreme Leader, cautions against UAE’s claims on three islands, warning of potential regional security instability. Iran vows not to allow these claims to materialize.
  3. Qatar to Receive Iranian Funds Next Week (Mideast News). Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister confirmed the upcoming transfer of Iranian funds to Qatari banks during a phone call, discussing mutual concerns with Iran’s Foreign Minister.
  4. Iran Ready for Prisoner Exchange Agreement with the US (Al Nahar). Iran is prepared to implement a Qatar-brokered agreement with the US involving exchanging prisoners and releasing Iranian assets held in South Korea.
  5. US, UK, Germany, and France Call on Iran to Address Nuclear Material Concerns (The National News). The US, UK, Germany, and France have urged Iran to promptly address outstanding nuclear material issues and fully comply with resolutions and agreements made in 2022 and March.
  6. Iran Warns Israel: Threats Will Shorten Your Life (Times Of Israel). Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Chief warns Israel that its threats will have consequences, citing Israel’s decline and accusations of empty rhetoric.

September 18, 2023

  1. Iran at a Crossroads: Foreign Relations, Internal Dissent, and Security Concerns Converge (North Press, Al Jazeera, Press Bee, The Guardian, Iran International, Iran International, Iran InternationalAxios, Eurasia Review, Iran International, Times of Israel, Asharq Al-Awsat). Iran engages in multi-party talks with Damascus, Ankara, and Moscow focused on Turkey’s withdrawal from Syria and U.S. activities along the Syrian-Iraqi border. On the international stage, the UK sanctions Iran over hijab law enforcement, and Iran transfers frozen assets to Qatar in a prisoner exchange deal. Domestically, tension grips the country during Mahsa Amini’s death anniversary, leading to protests and increased security measures. Underground groups aim for regime change, and Iran continues legal action against South Korea despite fund transfers. Tehran expels UN inspectors, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard mobilizes forces on the Iraq-Kurdistan border.

September 19, 2023

  1. U.S. and Iran Execute Prisoner and Asset Exchange Deal (North Press). Iran announced the release of its $6 billion in frozen assets, transferred to Qatari banks, as part of a prisoner exchange agreement with the U.S. The funds, released by U.S. ally South Korea, are a main condition for the swap involving five prisoners from each side.
  2. U.S. Sanctions Iranian Former President Ahmadinejad and Ministry of Intelligence (The Jerusalem Post). The U.S. imposed new sanctions on former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, following the agreement to exchange detainees.
  3. UN Nuclear Chief Calls for Iran to Reconsider Denial of Inspector Access (Al Monitor). IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi urged Iran to reconsider its decision to deny access to top UN inspectors. The move was described by Iran as retaliation for “political abuses” by the U.S., France, Germany, and Britain. Grossi warned of severe consequences if Iran fails to cooperate with the IAEA.

September 20, 2023

  1. Saudi Arabia Breaks 7-Year Ban, Sends Soccer Icon Ronaldo to Iran for Historic Match (BBC). Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Tehran with Saudi club Al Nassr ignites unprecedented excitement among Iranian football fans, who chased the team’s bus and gathered in large numbers outside his hotel. This marks a significant moment as it ends a seven-year ban on Saudi teams visiting Iran, despite ongoing geopolitical tensions and general hesitance from managers and sponsors about sending high-profile players to the country.
  2. Iran and Russia Strengthen Alliances During Nagorno-Karabakh Tensions and Defense Talks (i24). As Azerbaijan battles separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, Iran and Russia emerge as regional influencers. Iran shows military readiness, cautioning against Israeli intervention. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visits Iran to deepen Moscow-Tehran defense ties, coming after visits from China’s foreign minister and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Russia. Both countries aim to strengthen their global alliances and appear to capitalize on current regional instabilities.
  3. Bedouin Businessman Convicted for Sharing Intel with Iran Gets One-Year Sentence (Jerusalem Post). Yacoub Abu al-Qia’an, a Bedouin businessman who once ran for Israel’s Knesset, pleads guilty to sharing intelligence with Iran. A plea agreement will see him serve a 12-month prison term, as he poses no immediate security threat to Israel. Abu al-Qia’an was convicted of contacting a foreign agent and passing information to an enemy state. 

September 21, 2023

  1. Iran and Turkiye Conduct Six-Prisoner Swap at Bazargan Border Crossing (Xinhua). Iran and Turkiye exchanged six prisoners—three Iranians and three Turks—at the Bazargan border. The exchange followed a meeting in Ankara between Iranian and Turkish justice officials, part of ongoing bilateral humanitarian efforts to repatriate eligible imprisoned nationals. Earlier this year, Iran’s deputy justice minister noted 2,800 out of 4,000 Iranians imprisoned abroad are in Turkiye

September 22, 2023

  1. Iran Sentences Tajik Man to Death for Shah Cheragh Shooting (Times of Israel). An Iranian court sentenced Tajik national Rahmatollah Nowruzof to death for a fatal shooting at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum. Convicted on charges including “waging war against God,” Nowruzof was one of nine suspects in the attack, which killed two and injured seven. The attack is the second at the Shiite site in less than a year. Two other suspects received five-year sentences and deportation orders. International condemnation followed the attack.
  2. UK Probes 21 Academics Over Suspected Iran Military Collaboration (The Jewish Chronicle). UK government investigators are compiling evidence against 21 UK-based academics suspected of aiding Iran’s development of military and dual-use technology. The probe, initiated by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was spurred by investigations revealing research collaborations between UK scientists and Iran with potential military applications. The investigation involves officials from various UK departments, including the Department for Business and Trade and the Ministry of Defence. Universities implicated in the collaboration have denied wrongdoing. Convictions could lead to £1 million fines and up to seven years’ imprisonment.
  3. Iranian Hackers Target Israeli Jobseekers in Cyberattack Leaking Personal Info (Jerusalem Post). Israel’s National Cyber Directorate has uncovered an Iranian cyberattack aimed at job seekers in the country. The attackers sent fake messages via job search websites, directing users to malicious links designed to activate the device’s camera and record login details. The links used were subtly altered versions of the official URLs. The personal information leaked includes ID card photos and resume files. Israel’s Privacy Protection Authority has urged caution and recommended direct URL entry instead of clicking links. The alert comes after a similar phishing attempt in July targeting Israeli researchers and civil servants.
  4. Iran’s Ideological Expansion: From Women’s Oppression at Home to Influence Over Iraq’s Religious Leadership (Iran International). While Iran dismisses women-led protests and enforces stringent hijab laws, its ideological footprint also extends into Iraq. The stripping of Chaldean Catholic Cardinal Louis Sako’s title, allegedly influenced by an Iran-affiliated militia leader, indicates Tehran’s growing influence in Iraq’s religious and political spheres.

September 25, 2023

  1. Iran Foils 30 Planned Bombings in Tehran, Arrests 28 (Sharq Awsat). Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence thwarted 30 terrorist bombings in Tehran and arrested a 28-member network linked to ISIS. The arrests come amid increased security measures following recent protests.
  2. Iran’s Football Federation Reveals $33M in Frozen Assets Due to U.S. Sanctions (Xinhua News). Mehdi Taj, president of Iran’s Football Federation, announced that $33 million in assets are frozen in FIFA and the AFC due to U.S. sanctions. The issue was discussed in a recent meeting between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and FIFA President Gianni Infantino and will be a primary topic in an upcoming meeting in Paris on Oct. 24.
  3. Iran Deploys 10 Brigades Along Borders to Deter “Enemies,” Says Army General (Iran International). Gen. Kyumars Haydari, commander of Iran’s army ground forces, announced the deployment of 10 brigades along the country’s borders to deter “enemies.” While not specifying the number of troops, a brigade typically consists of 3,000-4,000 soldiers. The move aims to boost readiness and monitor borders amid regional tensions, including clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan and threats from the Taliban in the northeast.
  4. Iran Intensifies Surveillance and Repression Through Foreign Tech in Wake of Protests (Al Hurra). Leaked documents from Iranian telecom company Ariantel revealed a system called SIAM that allows tracking and controlling protesters’ phones. Iran has also been importing surveillance technology from China, including facial recognition cameras, to tighten control over its citizens. The cooperation between Iran and China extends to a 25-year multi-faceted agreement.

September 26, 2023

  1. Gas Leak Triggers Explosion at Bandar Abbas Refinery in Iran (Sharq Awsat). An explosion occurred at the Bandar Abbas refinery in southern Iran due to a gas leak, as reported by the official Iranian News Agency (IRNA). The incident involved the explosion of gas condensates at one of Iran’s largest refineries. Official confirmation and details on damage or casualties have not been released.
  2. Iran to Boost South Pars Gas Production to Over 730 mcm/d by Next Winter (Tasnim). Mohammad Hossein Motejalli, CEO of Pars Oil and Gas Company, announced plans to increase Iran’s gas production capacity in the South Pars field to over 730 million cubic meters per day by next winter. The increase will be facilitated through new wells and pipelines. South Pars, shared by Iran and Qatar, is crucial for Iran’s gas supply. Pressure-boosting projects are underway to maintain production levels, as Iran faces a potential gas imbalance of over 250 mcm/d in winter.
  3. Iran’s IRGC to Deploy Water-Landing Naval Drones Amid Rising Tensions in Persian Gulf (EurAsian Times). Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) is set to deploy water-landing naval drones capable of carrying missiles and bombs, according to IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri. The announcement comes amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf and follows Iran’s unveiling of its longest-range drone. These developments are part of Iran’s broader strategy to enhance its military capabilities, which have garnered international attention, especially after the supply of Iranian drones to Russia.
  4. Iranian Schools Face Unsettling Changes and Tragedies as New Academic Year Begins (IranWire). The new academic year in Iran is overshadowed by past tragedies, including child deaths in protests and school poisonings. Staff at girls’ schools are being replaced by religious and paramilitary personnel. Amid denial from the Ministry of Education, parents worry about security and ideological shifts.
  5. UN Nuclear Watchdog Chief Notes Lack of Progress in Iran’s Nuclear Program Compliance (Iran International). Rafael Grossi, head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, stated that ‘significant safeguards issues remain outstanding’ in Iran’s nuclear program. Despite promises, Iran has failed to provide satisfactory answers about traces of uranium found at undeclared sites. 

September 27, 2023

  1. How Tehran Placed Aides in U.S. Policy Circles (Iran International). An investigative report by Semafor and Iran International reveals the “Iran Experts Initiative,” a network of influential academics and researchers directly sponsored by Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Established in 2014, the initiative aimed to shape global security perspectives, particularly on Iran’s nuclear program. Three key members became senior aides to Robert Malley, the U.S. special envoy on Iran. The report uncovers internal communications and emails that provide new insights into Iran’s influence operations, particularly during the Obama administration. Participants in the initiative were active writers and analysts, promoting compromise with Tehran on nuclear issues. 
  2. Mysterious Tremor and Noise in Khorramabad, Iran Puzzle Authorities (Iran International). A mysterious tremor accompanied by a loud noise occurred in Khorramabad, western Iran, sparking confusion and concern. While initial reports suggested an earthquake, authorities later denied any seismic activity or explosion. The incident has led to speculation, especially given the proximity of an underground IRGC ballistic missile base. Observers noted that Israel has previously targeted sensitive sites in Iran, although no official confirmation has been provided for this incident.
  3. Putin and Raisi Discuss Nagorno-Karabakh Amid Azerbaijani Offensive (Sharq Awsat). This discussion comes as Azerbaijan intensifies its military operations in the separatist region, resulting in a substantial Armenian displacement. Iran, sharing borders with both Azerbaijan and Armenia, is closely monitoring the developments.
  4. German and Austrian Firms Attend US-Sanctioned Iran Oil Show (Jerusalem Post). German and Austrian engineering companies participated in Iran’s annual Oil Show, organized by the US-sanctioned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Critics argue that the NIOC finances terrorist activities and that European companies’ involvement could be in violation of sanctions. German authorities and the U.S. State Department are monitoring the situation but have not announced any specific actions.
  5. Iran and Turkiye May Back Syrian Tribes Against US-Backed SDF (Jerusalem Post). Iran and Turkiye are allegedly providing support to Syrian tribal fighters against the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Despite their differing allegiances in the Syrian conflict, both countries aim to diminish American influence in the region. Ongoing tribal attacks on SDF positions signal a shifting and intricate scenario that may pose challenges to U.S. objectives in Syria.

September 28, 2023

  1. Iranian-American Citizen Faramarz Javidzad Dies in Iran’s Evin Prison Due to Inadequate Medical Care (Bas News). Faramarz Javidzad, a 60-year-old Iranian-American, died in Iran’s Evin Prison due to inadequate medical attention. Despite his deteriorating health and critical blood pressure levels, he was not transferred to a hospital. The exact details of his conviction are unclear, and it’s unknown if the U.S. raised his case in recent prisoner exchange talks with Iran.
  2. U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Entities Linked to Iranian Drone Operations (Enab Baladi). The U.S. Department of the Treasury has imposed sanctions on seven individuals and four entities from Iran, China, Russia, and Turkiye for their involvement with Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program. The sanctions target those facilitating shipments and financial transactions for Iran’s Aircraft Manufacturing Company “HESA,” which is already on the U.S. sanctions list. The move aims to curb Iran’s drone activities that are seen as undermining global stability.
  3. Israel Foils Iran-Linked Assassination Plot Targeting National Security Minister (Iran International). Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, announced the arrest of five individuals—two Arab-Israelis and three Palestinians—accused of planning to assassinate Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and other public figures. The operation was a joint effort with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Police. The suspects were reportedly guided by an individual in Jordan acting on behalf of Iranian security officials. The arrests come amid escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, particularly concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

September 29, 2023

  1. IRGC Navy Points Lasers at US Marine Helicopters in Arabian Gulf, US Navy Condemns Act (Iran International). Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Navy is condemned by the US Navy for pointing lasers at a US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter in the Persian Gulf. The incident, described as “unsafe, unprofessional and irresponsible,” occurred during routine operations in international airspace. This marks the second such incident involving lasers and the USS Bataan in six years. No injuries or damages were reported.
  2. Iran, Venezuela, and Assad Ink Deal for New 140,000 BPD Oil Refinery in Homs (The Cradle). Iran announces a tripartite agreement with Venezuela and Syria to construct a new oil refinery in Syria’s Homs governorate. The facility will have a capacity of 140,000 barrels per day and aims to meet the petroleum needs of Syria and its neighbors. The deal moves forward despite heavy sanctions on all three nations.
  3. Second Fire in a Week Erupts at Iranian Defense Ministry’s Car Battery Factory (Times of Israel). A fire broke out for the second time in less than a week at a car battery factory owned by Iran’s defense ministry. The blaze occurred in an area storing plastic waste, producing a column of black smoke visible in Tehran. No injuries were reported. Iran, which has faced multiple industrial incidents, often attributes such mishaps to sabotage by Israel.
  4. US Defense Department Investigates Chief of Staff’s Alleged Covert Contacts with Iran (Iran International). The US Defense Department is scrutinizing allegations that Ariane Tabatabai, Chief of Staff to Assistant Secretary of Defense Christopher Maier, had covert contacts with Iran. The inquiry follows a report revealing Tabatabai’s involvement in the Iran Experts Initiative, a group aimed at influencing US policy. Congressional members are demanding answers on her security clearance and potential influence on US-Iran policy. The revelations have led to calls for suspension of clearances for those linked to the initiative.

 

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