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Part 1: Iran in the U.S. Election

October 23, 2020
On October 21, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, accused Iran and Russia of interfering in the U.S. presidential election. “Some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran, and separately, by Russia,” he said at a hastily arranged news conference. “We have already…

Part 2: Timeline - U.S. Claims of Iran Meddling

October 22, 2020
Updated: October 23, 2020
By 2020, tensions between the United States and Iran increasingly played out in cyberspace. Both governments acknowledged that cyberattacks were central to their strategies, as outlined in an earlier report by The Iran Primer. The following is a timeline of specific U.S. claims of Iran cyber…

News Digest: Week of October 19

October 21, 2020
October 19 Cyber: Two Israeli cybersecurity firms said that they had thwarted a large-scale Iranian hack against "prominent Israeli organizations." Health: Iran shattered its single day record with 337 deaths.  Sanctions: The Trump administration blacklisted six Chinese shipping companies for…

Part 7: Europe, China and Russia on End of U.N. Arms Embargo

October 21, 2020
The six major powers that negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—despite their differences on many other global flashpoints—split deeply over whether to lift the U.N. embargo banning the sale of conventional weapons to Iran. Ending the embargo had been a key incentive for Iran to cooperate on its…

U.S. Sanctions Chinese Network for Iran Shipping

October 19, 2020
On October 19, the United States sanctioned six companies and two individuals based in China and Hong Kong for doing business with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL). The Iranian firm used Chinese front companies to disguise its activities. The Treasury and State Department did not…

Part 6: Iran Marks End of Arms Embargo

October 19, 2020
Updated: October 21, 2020
On October 18, the global ban on the sale of conventional arms to Iran expired and opened the way for the Islamic Republic to import weapons, including warplanes and helicopter gunships, missiles, tanks, artillery and other weapon systems. The ban was imposed by U.N. Resolution 1929 in 2010. It was…

News Digest: Week of October 12

October 14, 2020
October 12 Health: Daily deaths from COVID-19 reached a record high of 272. Vaccine trials on human subjects would begin within weeks, Iran's health ministry said.  @SKhatibzadeh expressed regret over breaching ceasefire in #Azerbaijan-#Armenia conflict, saying #Iran invites both sides to…

Four Iranian Threats to U.S. Homeland

October 13, 2020
The Department of Homeland Security, in its first annual risk assessment, said that the United States faced four major threats from Iran, including: cyber attacks, election interference, terrorism, and spreading disinformation on COVID-19. Iranian and North Korean cyber actors “pose a threat to U.S…

The "Chilling Effect" of U.S. Sanctions on Iran

October 11, 2020
Updated: October 11, 2020
Richard Nephew, author of The Art of Sanctions, is a senior research scholar at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy. He was director for Iran policy at the National Security Staff from 2011 to 2013, during the expansion of U.S. sanctions on Iran. He coordinated sanctions policy at the…

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Financial Sector

October 8, 2020
Updated: October 10, 2020
On October 8, the Treasury sanctioned 18 major Iranian banks to cut Iran off from the global banking system and deny the regime access to foreign funds and institutions. The new sanctions are the latest step in the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” to squeeze Iran into…

News Digest: Week of October 5

October 7, 2020
October 5 Diplomacy: Iran developed a "specific framework" to deescalate the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the foreign ministry announced. Tehran said it was talking to both sides "as well as regional states and neighbors." Health: Almost all provinces, 26 out of 31, were placed on…

Iranian Media on the U.S. Election

October 7, 2020
Updated: October 22, 2020
In Iran, both hardline and reformist media have provided extensive coverage of the U.S. presidential election but from widely divergent viewpoints. How America votes could have sweeping military, diplomatic and economic impact on the Islamic Republic over the next four years, especially because the…

Last Among Equals: Iran-China Relations

October 6, 2020
Iran is lagging behind other Middle Eastern countries in expanding relations with China, according to a new study by Lucille Greer and Esfandyar Batmanghelidj. In June 2020, the “Final Draft of Iran-Strategic Partnership” circulated on Iranian social media and caused a firestorm in Iran among the…

Part 4: Iran Shuts Down Again

October 6, 2020
Updated: October 26, 2020
In mid-September, Iran’s pandemic began a third wave, with more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases a day. Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi declared a COVID-19 red alert for the entire country on September 18. The government ordered the closure of businesses, mosques and schools in Tehran and Zanjan…

U.S. Crisis with Iraq Over Iranian Threat

September 30, 2020
Updated: October 26, 2020
Tensions between the United States and Iran created a political crisis in Baghdad in September after months of attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities by Iraqi militias armed, trained and aided by Tehran. The militias targeted U.S. bases, supply convoys and diplomatic facilities almost daily in…

News Digest: Week of September 28

September 30, 2020
September 28 Diplomacy: Iran pushed for an immediate ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan after fighting erupted over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif urged his Azeri and Armenian counterparts to exercise restraint during phone calls on Sunday.  Economy…

Saudi King Condemns Iran at U.N. General Assembly

September 25, 2020
On September 23, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz condemned Iran for spreading “chaos, extremism and sectarianism” across the Middle East and urged a “comprehensive” worldwide solution to prevent it from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. “Partial solutions and appeasement did not stop…

Abrams on U.S. Demands for New Iran Talks

September 25, 2020
On September 24, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Elliott Abrams said that any future agreement with Tehran would have to cover four areas — nuclear and missile programs, support for terrorism and American detainees — and be "legally binding." "The United States is open to negotiate with Iran…

Whither the Middle East: Peace or More Conflict?

September 23, 2020
On September 23, four experts – Robin Wright, Daniel Kurtzer, Vali Nasr and Maha Yahya – explored the future trajectory of the Middle East on U.S.-Iran tensions, Lebanon’s struggle to rebuild politically and physically, new peace agreements between Gulf countries and Israel, the end game in Syria…

News Digest: Week of September 21

September 23, 2020
September 21 Health: Iran recorded 425,481 cases and 24,478 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 361,523 patients had recovered from the virus. Sanctions: The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran that targeted 24 government organizations,…

Khamenei on the 40th Anniversary of Iran-Iraq War

September 22, 2020
On the 40th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed on September 21 that the eight-year war was an Iranian victory against the major powers. The United States, Europeans and the Soviet Union had supported President Saddam Hussein—with arms, intelligence and…

Rouhani Speaks at His Last U.N. General Assembly

September 22, 2020
On September 22, President Hassan Rouhani told the 75th U.N. General Assembly that the United States could not impose negotiations or war on Iran. “Life is hard under sanctions. However, harder is life without independence,” he said in a defiant speech. “We are not a bargaining chip in U.S.…

Iran: Reaction to Snapback Sanctions

September 21, 2020
On September 20, Iran condemned the U.S. decision to reimpose U.N. sanctions that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The United States had no legal standing to invoke sanctions since it had withdrawn from the agreement in May 2018, officials said. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad…

Zarif on Nuclear Deal, U.S.-Iran Tensions

September 21, 2020
At the Council on Foreign Relations on September 21, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed broad new U.S. sanctions and stipulated that Washington would have to provide financial compensation “for damages incurred” by Iran if it wanted to reengage in the 2015 nuclear deal. “It’s nothing…

US: Snapback Sanctions Go Into Force

September 21, 2020
On September 19, the Trump administration formally reimposed U.N. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the United States unilaterally would reenact five sets of U.N. sanctions from 2006 through 2010, despite opposition…

Major Powers: On Snapback Sanctions

September 21, 2020
On September 19, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States had reimposed U.N. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The five other major powers that signed the original agreement –…

Iranian Media on Ginsburg's Death

September 20, 2020
Updated: September 29, 2020
On September 20, Sazandegi, a centrist daily, published a cover photo of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Death of U.S. Judge,” read the headline marking her passing on September 18 of pancreatic cancer. The newspaper also speculated on the political repercussions. “With the death…

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Hackers

September 17, 2020
On September 17, the Treasury sanctioned two groups for cyber espionage. The new sanctions covered Rana Intelligence Computing Company, an Iranian cyber firm, and a cyber espionage group dubbed “Advanced Persistent Threat 39 (APT 39)” by U.S. cyber security companies. The Treasury also designated…

Timeline: Iran's Assassinations and Plots

September 16, 2020
Updated: September 21, 2020
Iran has assassinated dozens of its enemies across four continents — in Asia, Europe, North America and South America — over the four decades since the 1979 revolution. As of September 2020, the Islamic Republic had reportedly assassinated at least 21 opponents abroad and killed hundreds in…

Trump on Future Deal with Iran

September 16, 2020
On September 15, President Donald Trump said that he could make a “good deal” with Iran if reelected in November. “I would say, right after the election — within a period of a week, maybe a month … you’ll have Iran coming back and saying, ‘Let’s get this whole thing worked out,’” he told reporters…