News Digest: Week of April 11

April 11

Economy: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that some $7 billion of Iran's frozen assets would soon be released. He did not provide further details. State media reported that an unspecified senior official from another country in the region was due to visit Tehran to finalize the mechanism for unfreezing the funds.

Ukraine: Iran was helping to smuggle weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, according to The Guardian. The weapons, including rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles, were provided by Iraqi militias backed by Iran. “Whatever is anti-US makes us happy,” one source from a militia said. “We don’t care where the heavy weapons go.”

Regional: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that a regional alliance and increased intelligence cooperation against Iran were necessary if the 2015 nuclear is not revived. “We will have to move to Plan B” to compensate for “lack of inspection capabilities,” he said.


April 12

Diplomacy: Iran appointed a new ambassador to Iraq, Mohammed Kazem Al-e Sadeq, who had ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He was a deputy and advisor to Iraj Masjedi, a previous ambassador to Iraq. Masjedi, a former IRGC commander, was sanctioned by the United States in 2020 and linked to Iran-backed militias in Iraq.

Nuclear: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran's future should not be tied to the outcome of nuclear talks with the United States and other world powers. Khamenei said that the talks were progressing but downplayed their importance. “Absolutely do not wait for nuclear negotiations in planning for the country and move forward,” he told senior officials. “Do not let your work be disrupted whether the negotiations reach positive or semi-positive or negative results.”


April 13

Security: Mohammad Pakpour, a senior IRGC commander, said that the death of all American leaders would be insufficient to avenge IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. “We should avenge him by following Soleimani's path and through other methods,” he said in an interview with state-run media.

Ukraine: Iran opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supports a diplomatic solution, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba. Kuleba said that he was grateful to Amir-Abdollahian for refuting reports about Iran facilitating arms transfers to Russia.


Security: Amjad Mohammed Hossein al Mousavi, lawyer for the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, survived an assassination attempt. The attack was carried out by armed men in the city of al Kazimiyyah. No group claimed responsibility. 


April 14

Regional: President Ebrahim Raisi criticized Iraq for allegedly allowing Israel to maintain a presence in the autonomous Kurdistan region. “The president emphasized that Iran strongly expects neighboring countries, especially Iraq, not to allow any presence that is disruptive to the security of the Islamic Republic,” according to a statement by Raisi’s office about his meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, who was visiting Tehran.

On March 13, Iran launched a dozen ballistic missiles into neighboring Iraq. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed that it targeted Israeli “strategic centers” in the northern city of Erbil. Iraqi and U.S. officials said that the attack was unjustified.