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Abdollahian in New York on Foreign Policy

September 27, 2021
On September 24, new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Western reporters during the opening week of the U.N. General Assembly. In one session, only his opening remarks were on the record. In another interview with MSNBC, he provided more detailed comments on Tehran’s…

Raisi’s First Moves on Foreign Policy

September 23, 2021
In the early days of his presidency, Ebrahim Raisi outlined two main priorities in Iranian foreign policy: improving relations with neighbors, and expanding ties with Asian powers, including China and Russia. “I extend a hand of friendship and brotherhood to all countries in the region, especially…

News Digest: Week of September 20

September 22, 2021
September 20 Sports: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated the national volleyball team for winning the 2021 Asian Championship title.  In the Name of the Most High The brilliant victory of the National #Volleyball Team is very sweet for the Iranian nation. I sincerely thank you…

At UN, Raisi Blasts US, Backs Nuclear Talks

September 21, 2021
On September 21, President Ebrahim Raisi expressed support for diplomatic negotiations to restore full U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules,” he said during his debut address…

Sanctions on Hezbollah and IRGC Networks

September 17, 2021
On September 17, the Treasury Department announced sanctions, authorized under Executive Order 13224, on a network of facilitators and front companies in the Middle East and Far East that helped fund Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards elite Quds Force. Treasury designated 11 individuals in…

News Digest: Week of September 13

September 15, 2021
September 13 Hezbollah:  Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese political movement and militia Hezbollah, said that the group received its first shipment of Iranian fuel at the Syrian port of Banias. The fuel was to be transported by trucks to Lebanon, which was in the midst of a fuel crisis…

IAEA Report: Breakout Time Shortens

September 15, 2021
In its quarterly report on September 7, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was enriching uranium at levels significantly higher than allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal, which experts subsequently warned could allow Iran to amass sufficient fuel for a single nuclear…

U.S. Charges Florida Family with Sanctions Violations

September 15, 2021
On September 14, the Justice Department announced several charges against a former University of Miami professor, Mohammad Faghihi, his wife Farzaneh Modarresi and sister Faezeh Faghihi related to their alleged violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran. The family operated a genetic sequencing company…

U.S. Sentences Iranian for Exporting Military Sensitive Parts

September 15, 2021
On September 14, the Justice Department sentenced an Iranian national, Mehrdad Ansari, to more than five years in prison for trying to obtain parts that have potential military uses for Iran. “Ansari and his co-conspirators attempted to profit from a far-reaching, extensive scheme to evade U.S.…

Iran, Nuclear Watchdog Reach Deal on Monitoring

September 13, 2021
On September 12, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reached an agreement that would allow the watchdog agency to service monitoring equipment at Iranian nuclear facilities. The IAEA had not had access to its equipment, including cameras, since May 25. It urgently needed to swap…

U.S. Sanctions Iranians Plotting to Kidnap Activist

September 10, 2021
On September 3, the Treasury Department sanctioned four Iranian intelligence operatives who plotted to abduct an Iranian-American activist. “Iran’s attempt to kidnap a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil because she used her freedom of speech to criticize the Iranian government is unacceptable and an…

News Digest: Week of September 6

September 9, 2021
September 6 Afghanistan: At a weekly press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the Taliban attack against the last stronghold of resistance forces in Panjshir, whom he praised for their “martyrdom.”  Afghanistan: Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High…

News Digest: Week of August 30

September 9, 2021
August 31 Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly invited him to visit Paris. The Elysée did not immediately comment on these remarks. “The French were very interested to use the opportunity [of the Iraq summit] to get close to…

Raisi's Economic Team

September 3, 2021
The Bourse & Bazaar Foundation, a think tank focused on economic diplomacy and development in the Middle East and Central Asia, prepared this report in collaboration with "The Iran Primer."   President Ebrahim Raisi has prioritized improving Iran’s faltering economy. He took office in August…

Raisi and the Revolutionary Guards

September 2, 2021
Alex Vatanka is the director of the Iran Program and a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.  Under President Ebrahim Raisi, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is poised to exert greater control over Iran’s national security agenda and economy. Several of his ministers and advisors…

U.S. Settlement with Bank on Sanctions Violations

August 27, 2021
On August 27, the U.S. Treasury announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with Romanian bank First Bank SA and its American parent company, JC Flowers & Co., for apparent violation of Iran and Syria sanctions. The bank and company agreed to pay $862,318 for processing 98 commercial…

Israeli Prime Minister Bennett on Iran

August 25, 2021
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has long taken a hardline stance on Iran’s regional intervention and controversial nuclear program. Bennett has criticized the Islamic Republic since he was first elected to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in 2013. He has made Iran a top foreign policy issue…

U.S. Loosens Restrictions on Educational Services for Iranian Students

August 25, 2021
On August 24, the Treasury Department temporarily loosened restrictions on educational services for certain Iranian students. The general license, issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, allowed U.S. institutions to provide online courses and educational software to Iranian students who…

Iran and the Taliban Takeover

August 25, 2021
Iran welcomed the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan while it also scrambled to deal with the sudden influx of thousands of refugees along the 572-mile border. For months, Iran had been positioning itself for the transition by hosting a Taliban delegation in January and intra-Afghan peace…

News Digest: Week of August 23

August 24, 2021
Updated: August 26, 2021
August 23 Afghanistan: Iran announced that it would resume exporting fuel to Afghanistan at the Taliban’s request. The price of gasoline had exceeded $900 per ton in Afghanistan due to a spike in demand from Afghans fleeing Taliban-controlled cities.   Diplomacy: Outgoing Foreign Minister…

Under Raisi, Three Scenarios for Nuclear Talks

August 24, 2021
Ali Vaez is Iran Project Director at the International Crisis Group and Senior Adviser to ICG’s president.   What package of ideas are on the table after six rounds of negotiations between Iran and the world’s six major powers in Vienna? Ali VaezThe core bargain for mutual return to compliance…

British, Russian Envoys Summoned Over Photo

August 18, 2021
On August 12, Iran summoned the British and Russian ambassadors for posing in a photo commemorating the meeting of Allied leaders in Tehran during World War II. The photo, tweeted by the Russian embassy on August 11, recalled a picture of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston…

News Digest: Week of August 16

August 18, 2021
August 16 Diplomacy: Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that he would "enrich" the 25-year strategic partnership between Beijing and Tehran that was signed in March 2021. "Since the establishment of diplomatic ties half a century ago, the relations between China and Iran have developed steadily…

U.S. Sanctions Iran Oil Smuggling Network

August 13, 2021
On August 13, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned an oil smuggling network for supporting the Qods Force, the external operations branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Qods Force “has been using revenue from Iranian petroleum sales to fund its malign activities,” Secretary of…

Raisi's National Security Team

August 13, 2021
Updated: September 10, 2021
Raisi named his cabinet nominees on August 11, 2021On Aug. 11, 2021, President Ebrahim Raisi submitted a list of 19 proposed cabinet members to Parliament, the Majles, which must approve all nominations. Two weeks later, Parliament approved all of his picks with the exception of his proposed…

News Digest: Week of August 9

August 11, 2021
Updated: August 12, 2021
August 9 Diplomacy: President Ebrahim Raisi spoke with French President Emanuel Macron in an hour-long phone call. The pair discussed the situation in Lebanon, maritime security in the Persian Gulf and nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Raisi told Macron that he would "welcome" French support in…

Raisi's COVID-19 Challenge

August 11, 2021
Updated: August 23, 2021
President Ebrahim Raisi was inaugurated during the fifth and most infectious wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 38,000 new cases were reported on the day that he took office. The more infectious Delta variant was first reported in the southern provinces of Fars, Hormozgan, Kerman, and Sistan…

CENTCOM: Iran Behind Drone Attack on Tanker

August 10, 2021
Iran produced at least one of the drones used in the deadly attack on the Mercer Street – a Liberian-flagged oil tanker with ties to Israel – on July 29 and 30, according to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). CENTCOM released the findings of its investigation into the drone attack and published photos…

U.S. Report on Religious Minorities in Iran

August 9, 2021
In the first half of 2021, Iran persecuted religious minorities including Baha’is and Christians as well as Sunni and Sufi Muslims, according to a new report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. “Iranian authorities have arrested scores of religious minorities, who face…

U.S. Calls on Raisi to Resume Nuclear Talks

August 7, 2021
On August 5, the United States called on Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, to resume talks on restoring full U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “We urge Iran to return to the negotiations soon so that we can seek to conclude our work,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price…