News Digest: Week of February 22

February 22

Health: Tehran and Tokyo discussed using frozen Iranian financial assets in Japanese banks to purchase coronavirus vaccines. The Japanese ambassador in Tehran suggested the move during a meeting with Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdonnaser Hemmati, state media reported.

Nuclear: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Iran might enrich uranium up to 60 percent, if U.S. sanctions remained in place. “We will take whatever action is necessary for the country," he told the Assembly of Experts. Khamenei claimed that highly enriched uranium would be used for "nuclear propulsion." But uranium enriched to that level would also significantly shorten Tehran's breakout time, the time needed to enrich enough uranium for one nuclear bomb. 



February 23

Cyber: Twitter removed 238 accounts operating from Iran after completing an investigation into Iranian efforts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The accounts were suspended for "various violations of our platform manipulation policies," the social media company said. 

Nuclear: Iran was enriching uranium faster than required by law, Reuters reported. In December 2020, Parliament passed a law requiring Iran to produce 10 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium a month. But Iran was on track to produce 15 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium a month, a senior diplomat told the news agency. 

Oil: Iran has received jet fuel from Venezuela in exchange for gasoline shipments which began in May 2020, Reuters reported. Caracas had a surplus of jet fuel due to restrictions on domestic air travel. The fuel was transported on the same tankers Iran used to send gasoline to Venezuela.  


February 24

Health: Iran detected 13 new cases of the mutated coronavirus: five in Tehran province, seven in Hormozgan province and one in West Azerbaijan province. A total of 112 patients had been infected with COVID-19 variant and eight had died, the government said. 

Nuclear: The United States and Israel have reconvened a strategic working group to discuss Iran, Axios reported. The working group is headed by the U.S. and Israeli national security advisers. It was first established during President Barack Obama's first term to discuss pressuring Iran over its nuclear program.