News Digest: Week of September 6

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 Council for National Reconciliation, asked Iran to send humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. He made the request during a phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.


September 7

Nuclear: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran has continued to amass highly enriched uranium above the limits defined in the 2015 nuclear deal. The IAEA’s confidential quarterly report, seen by The Associated Press, stated that its verification and monitoring program was “seriously undermined” by Iran’s refusal, since February 2021, to allow inspectors’ full access to IAEA monitoring equipment.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG): General Mohammad Pakpour, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards ground forces, warned Iraq's KRG against harboring Iranian Kurdish opposition groups. His comments followed a spate of border clashes between Iranian forces and Iranian Kurdish militants based in the KRG. “The current situation is no longer tolerable,” Pakpour said. He advised locals to keep their distance from the “terrorists’ positions” because Iran’s response would be “decisive and harsh.” 

Israel: In an interview, Israel Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi, said that plans to address the Iranian nuclear program had been “greatly accelerated” with “a significant chunk of the boost to the defense budget” earmarked for that purpose. “It’s a very complicated job with much more intelligence, much more operational capabilities, much more armaments,” he added. Kohavi said that Israeli efforts to counter Iran more broadly would focus on “minimizing Iranian presence in the Middle East with an emphasis on Syria.”


September 8

Nuclear: Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that Iran’s continued advances in nuclear technology could jeopardize the restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “I’m not going to put a date on it, but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance with the JCPOA does not reproduce the benefits that that agreement achieved,” he said.

Maritime: The U.S Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, announced a new task force focused on integrating sailing, airborne, and underwater drones. The 5th Fleet’s area of operations includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. “We want more eyes on what’s happening out there,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper told journalists. The announcement followed a drone attack on a tanker with ties to Israel in July that the United States and other powers blamed on Iran. Since at least 2019, Iran has been linked to maritime sabotage and attacks on vessels in the 5th Fleet’s are of operations. “We’re very aware of Iran’s posture and we’ll be prepared to deal with that appropriately,” Cooper said.