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News Digest: Week of May 23

May 25, 2022
May 23 Domestic: A 10-story building partially collapsed in the city of Abadan in southwestern Khuzestan province. Dozens of people were trapped in the rubble. As of May 25, the death toll was 16. The general prosecutor of the province told state media that 11 people were detained in connection to…

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Oil Smuggling Network

May 25, 2022
On May 25, the United States sanctioned an oil smuggling network that secretly funded both Iran’s Qods Force, the external operations arm of the Revolutionary Guards, and Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militia. The United States named a web of nine companies and 10 men operating in Iran…

Malley: Future of JCPOA is “Tenuous”

May 25, 2022
On May 25, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley warned that the prospects of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal were “tenuous at best.” He blamed “excessive Iranian demands” for the impasse. Malley addressed a range of issues during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: On…

U.N. Rapporteur Concludes Controversial Trip

May 20, 2022
On May 18, a U.N. official warned that unilateral sanctions – including by the United States – have severely impacted government revenues, contributed to inflation and poverty, and led to scarcity of basic necessities in Iran. Alena Douhan, a U.N. special rapporteur, expressed particular concern…

U.S. Defense Intelligence on Iran

May 11, 2022
Iran is “probably” plotting “covert actions against American officials” to retaliate for the U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Qods Force who was killed in a 2020 airstrike, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) warned on May 10, 2022. Tehran’s long-term…

G7 Virtual Summit on Iran

May 9, 2022
In a joint statement on May 9, the G7 called on Iran to “refrain from further escalation of its nuclear activities” and to cease all development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering a bomb. The statement was issued amid growing international concern about Tehran’s breaches of the 2015 accord…

Missiles and Soleimani on Iran’s Qods Day

April 29, 2022
Coming out of a two-year pandemic, Iran celebrated its annual Qods Day – in support of Palestinians (“al Qods” is the Arabic name for Jerusalem) – with parades of towering ballistic missiles and portraits of former Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was assassinated in a U.S. drone…

U.S. Intelligence Report on Iran’s Nuclear Program

April 29, 2022
In April 2022, the annual U.S. assessment of arms control reported that Iran had not yet taken the steps necessary to produce a nuclear weapon even as it “continued to expand its uranium enrichment activities” far beyond the limits stipulated in the 2015 nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of…

News Digest: Week of April 25

April 26, 2022
April 25 Nuclear: Iran called for a face-to-face meeting “as soon as possible” to finalize an agreement on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “It is not yet decided where and when to have this meeting and at what level it should be held, but it is on the agenda,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed…

Open Letter Warns of Stalemate in Nuclear Talks

April 26, 2022
In an open letter, former ranking officials from 15 European countries warned that failure to overcome the final hurdle in the Iran nuclear talks could produce a “corrosive stalemate” and “a cycle of increased nuclear tension.” They urged the United States and Iran to “demonstrate flexibility” to…

News Digest: Week of April 18

April 20, 2022
April 18 Security: Seeking retribution for the U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani is a “basic principle in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said. “The action taken by the perpetrators and advisers of this cowardly act will not go…

Iran Deal: U.S. Sanctions on the IRGC

April 13, 2022
Updated: May 25, 2022
Since 2007, the United States has sanctioned the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—as well as its proxies and foreign companies that support it—under at least eight executive orders and six laws. “Of the 107 sanctions the Biden administration has imposed on Iran, 86 of those – some three-…

News Digest: Week of April 11

April 13, 2022
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…

State Department Report on Human Rights in Iran

April 13, 2022
Iran’s human rights record was extremely poor in 2021, the State Department reported. Security, judicial and political officials carried out extrajudicial killings, conducted torture and arbitrary detention, restricted free expression and religious freedom, recruited child soldiers and…

CENTCOM's Maj. Gen. Michael Kurilla on Iran

April 8, 2022
Major General Michael Kurilla, President Biden’s choice to head Central Command (CENTCOM), began his Army career in 1988. He has led units in combat, peacekeeping, and operational deployments. Kurilla spent every year from 2004 to 2014 in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, which extends from Egypt…

Iran Deal: The IRGC is the Final Hurdle

April 7, 2022
Updated: May 25, 2022
The last and biggest hurdle to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal was the dispute between Washington and Tehran over the status of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group. Leaders and an elite branch of the IRGC had faced several layers of economic sanctions—over support for…

Amnesty: Iran's Human Rights Abuses

April 6, 2022
Iran’s security services and judiciary carried out widespread violations of human rights in 2021, Amnesty International said in its annual report. The following is the Iran section of the report.   IRAN 2021 Thousands of people were interrogated, unfairly prosecuted and/or arbitrarily detained…

News DIgest: Week of April 4

April 4, 2022
April 4 Diplomacy: Tehran blamed Washington for the pause in talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “If there’s a pause in the Vienna talks, that’s because of the excessive U.S. demands,” Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian tweeted. “If the White House behaves realistically, an agreement is…

Rap of Resistance Thrives in Iran

April 1, 2022
On March 18, musicians from all 31 provinces in Iran released a rap video that exposes the deep discontent among the young, even as they unite to express love of a nation that was once at the forefront of culture and human rights. Like much of Iranian rap, the lyrics carry subtle political messages…

News Digest: Week of March 28

March 31, 2022
March 28 Foreign ministers at the Negev Summit in IsraelRegional Diplomacy: Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the Negev Summit held in Israel. Foreign ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates as well as the United States and Israel…

U.S. Sanctions Iran's Ballistic Missile Program

March 30, 2022
On March 30, the United States sanctioned an Iranian man and four companies for procuring equipment used in Iran’s ballistic missile program. “We have taken this action following Iran’s recent missile attack on Erbil, Iraq, as well as missile attacks by Iranian proxies against Saudi Arabia and the…

IRGC and U.S. Both Display Arms in Qatar

March 25, 2022
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and a U.S. weapons company ended up displaying their wares at a defense show in Qatar – in booths next to each other. The Revolutionary Guards displayed models of missiles, ships, jets, and guns. “Today, the Islamic Republic has been able to use the scientific ability of…

Iranian Leaders on Nowruz

March 23, 2022
On March 20-21, Iran’s leaders marked Nowruz, the Persian New Year and the first day of spring, with defiant messages about U.S. efforts to economically coerce the government. “Despite sanctions, the government has been able to increase foreign trade, sign new regional contracts, and make…

Explainer: Iran’s Nuclear Capabilities

March 21, 2022
Danny Citrinowicz, who headed the Iran branch of Israel Defense Intelligence’s Research and Analysis Division, is now an independent analyst.   Why did Iran start its nuclear program? Did its goals shift over time? Iran’s nuclear program predates the 1979 revolution. The investment in nuclear…

U.S. Officials on Nowruz

March 21, 2022
On March 20, President Joe Biden and top officials wished a happy Nowruz, the Persian New year, to Iranians and others celebrating the ancient holiday around the world. Biden, unlike his predecessors, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, did not use the occasion to comment on the state of U.S.-Iran…

U.N. Report on Discrimination Against Baha’is

March 17, 2022
Baha’is are facing “increasing insecurity” in Iran and other countries in the Middle East, according to a new report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed. Some 300,000 Baha’is reportedly reside in the Islamic Republic. They are the largest non-Muslim…

News Digest: Week of March 14

March 16, 2022
March 14 Nuclear: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed that it arrested a “network” of individuals who planned to sabotage the Fordo nuclear facility on behalf of Israel. Security: Iranian intelligence reportedly broke up two cells of militants, including “six armed terrorists”…

Iran Launches Missiles on Iraq

March 15, 2022
Updated: March 28, 2022
Early 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, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region. Iraqi and U.S. officials said that the…

Russian Glitch in Iran Talks

March 14, 2022
Updated: March 15, 2022
After 11 months of negotiations, Iran and the world’s major powers appeared close to terms on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. But Russia threw in a last-minute demand that U.S. and European sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine would not impede Russian trade with Iran. On March…

U.S. Intelligence Report on Iran

March 9, 2022
On March 8, the annual U.S. intelligence assessment reported that Iran has not taken the steps necessary to produce a nuclear weapon. But it also warned that the Islamic Republic might expand its nuclear program if the United States does not lift sanctions. “Iranian officials probably will consider…