News Digest: Week of September 13

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.

Kurdish Opposition: Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani urged Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi, who was visiting Tehran, to expel Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in the autonomous Kurdish Region in northern Iraq. Iran has long considered the armed groups terrorists.  

Nuclear: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held a meeting of its board of governors in Vienna. “I remain deeply concerned that nuclear material has been present at undeclared locations in Iran and that the current locations of this nuclear material are not known to the Agency,” Director General Rafael Grossi said. He had traveled to Tehran the previous day to broker a last-minute deal in which Iran allowed the watchdog agency to service its monitoring equipment at nuclear facilities.


September 14

Nuclear: The IAEA acknowledged the “unacceptable” behavior of Iranian security staff toward its inspectors after the Wall Street Journal reported that female inspectors were physically harassed at the Natanz nuclear facility. In one incident, a woman was subjected to an unnecessarily intrusive body search. The IAEA raised the issue with Iran, which provided explanations about reinforced security provisions following sabotage at Natanz. “As a result of this exchange between the Agency and Iran there have been no further incidents,” the IAEA said.

In a tweet, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi confirmed the changes in security measures.  


Nuclear: German police arrested “Alexander J.,” a German-Iranian man who allegedly exported 1.1 million euros worth of laboratory equipment, including four spectrometers, to Iran for use in its nuclear and missile programs.

Diplomacy: Iran announced that hardliner Ali Bagheri Kani will replace Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, who acted as head negotiator in the talks that resulted in the 2015 nuclear deal.

Sanctions: The U.S. Department of Justice 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. The parts Ansari procured would allow Iran to test weapons and communications systems.


September 15

Human Rights: Bahieh Namjoo, in a televised interview with CNN, said that he had “no peace” a year after her son, popular wrestler Navid Afkari, was executed. He was charged with murdering a security officer during Iran’s 2017-2018 protests over economic hardships and political repression. But human rights groups said that he confessed under torture. Namjoo said that the ongoing imprisonment of two of her other children had “emotionally and mentally drained” her family.

Sanctions: The U.S. Department of Justice charged a former University of Miami professor, Mohammad Faghihi, his wife Farzaneh Modarresi and sister Faezeh Faghihi with several crimes in connection to their alleged violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran. The family laundered money and shipped genetic sequencing equipment to Iran without a license from the Treasury Department.

Afghanistan: Iran resumed commercial flights to Afghanistan. Iran had stopped flights in mid-August due to the chaotic security situation following the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban advances.


Tess Rosenberg, a research analyst at the U.S. Institute of Peace, assembled this roundup.