News Digest: Week of March 18

March 18

Domestic: Armed assailants killed an Iranian border guard, Mohammad Javad Bayanati, while on duty along the border of southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province. Smugglers and terrorist groups have long operated along the border with Pakistan. 

International: Syrian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ali Mahmoud Abbas met Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, in Tehran. The two generals denounced Israel’s actions in Gaza and discussed Israeli strikes in Lebanon and Syria.


March 19

International: Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, dismissed “unfounded” accusations by the United States and Britain about the transfer of arms to Yemen. Iravani stated that such claims are meant to justify their bombing campaign against the Houthis in Yemen. The envoy said that Iran was not engaged in any activity that contravenes U.N. resolutions on the Yemen arms embargo.

Diplomacy: Ali Bahraini, Iran’s ambassador the U.N. office in Geneva, was appointed as the head of the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, also known as the Geneva Conference. Bahraini stated that he planned to focus on the promotion of international peace and security through the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.

International: Armenian authorities transferred eight Iranian prisoners in Armenia to Iran based on a bilateral agreement. It marked the third phase of prisoner transfers to Iran.


March 20

International: The United States sanctioned three networks that supplied materials and goods to Iran’s ballistic missile, nuclear and defense programs. The networks were based in Iran, Turkey, Oman, and Germany. “Through complex covert procurement networks, Iran seeks to supply rogue actors around the world with weapons systems that fuel conflict and risk countless civilian lives,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.

International: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned state governors that Iran may be attempting cyberattacks on U.S. water infrastructure. Hackers associated with Iran and China have attacked water systems. In a letter, Sullivan and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan revealed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “has targeted and disabled a common type of operational technology used at water facilities where the facility had neglected to change a default manufacturer password.” The Biden administration requested governors to help secure water systems against the increasing risk of these attacks.