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Biden Foreign Policy Team on Iran

November 24, 2020
Updated: January 21, 2021
President-elect Joe Biden’s top foreign policy appointments – Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman as Deputy Secretary of State, and Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor – all supported reentering the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration in 2015 and…

News Digest: Week of November 15

November 18, 2020
November 15 Human Rights: Iran, the United States and human rights groups marked the one-year anniversary of massive anti-government protests sparked by an overnight gas price hike. The regime did not officially comment, but five days before the anniversary, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei…

U.S. Sanctions Intelligence Minister and Most Powerful Foundation

November 18, 2020
On November 18, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi and a patronage network controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Alavi was designated for complicity in human rights abuses, including the violent crackdown on protestors in November 2019. Security…

Iran's Growing Stockpiles of Enriched Uranium

November 18, 2020
Updated: December 7, 2020
As of November 2020, Iran had amassed 12 times the amount of enriched uranium – the fuel for a nuclear bomb – that was permitted by the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the world’s six major powers. The deal stipulated that Tehran was limited to producing a maximum of 203 kg (or 447 pounds) of low-…

Part V: 1979 Hostage Crisis – Covert Ops

November 17, 2020
On November 17, the Office of the State Department Historian released its records on the hostage affair. Students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 to protest the Carter administration’s decision to take in the ailing former shah for medical treatment. Student leaders later said…

Part IV: 1979 Hostage Crisis – Rescue Mission

November 17, 2020
On November 17, the Office of the State Department Historian released its records on the hostage affair. Students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 to protest the Carter administration’s decision to take in the ailing former shah for medical treatment. Student leaders later said…

Part II: 1979 Hostage Crisis – Options

November 17, 2020
On November 17, the Office of the State Department Historian released its records on the hostage affair. Students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 to protest the Carter administration’s decision to take in the ailing former shah for medical treatment. Student leaders later said…

Part I: 1979 Hostage Crisis – First Responses

November 17, 2020
On November 17, the Office of the State Department Historian released its records on the hostage affair. Students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 to protest the Carter administration’s decision to take in the ailing former shah for medical treatment. Student leaders later said…

Part III: 1979 Hostage Crisis – Negotiations

November 17, 2020
On November 17, the Office of the State Department Historian released its records on the hostage affair. Students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 to protest the Carter administration’s decision to take in the ailing former shah for medical treatment. Student leaders later said…

Iran and Venezuela: Odd Bedfellows

November 16, 2020
Benjamin Gedan is deputy director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. He is a former South America director on the National Security Council and also served at the State Department and the…

Iran and U.S. Mark Anniversary of Massive Protests

November 16, 2020
Updated: November 18, 2020
On November 15, Iran marked the one-year anniversary of the deadliest political unrest since the Green Movement demonstrations after the disputed 2009 presidential election. The regime did not officially comment, but five days before the anniversary, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pardoned…

News Digest: Week of November 8

November 10, 2020
November 8 Health: Daily COVID deaths reached a record high of 459.  Diplomacy: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called for a diplomatic dialogue with Gulf Arab neighbors. "Betting on foreigners does not bring security, and disappoints," he tweeted in Arabic.  FM @JZarif sat down with…

US Sanctions Network for Supplying Iran Military

November 10, 2020
Updated: November 11, 2020
On November 10, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned six companies, two men and two women for supplying electronic components to an Iranian military firm. The United States and the European Union had sanctioned the firm – Iranian Communications Industries (ICI) – in 2008 and 2010, respectively. ICI was…

Iranian Media on Election Week

November 10, 2020
The Iranian media was transfixed by the U.S. election, with more than a dozen newspapers covering the race largely from their own ideological perspective – reformist, centrist, conservative or hardline.  Conservative and hardline papers focused on the confusion surrounding the result. "Tensions…

Iranian Media on U.S. Election Results

November 9, 2020
Iranian newspapers from across the political spectrum – reformist, centrist, conservative and hardline – closely tracked the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The papers differed in their coverage based on their ideological leaning. Reformist and centrist outlets covered former Vice…

Iran Officials React to U.S. Election

November 9, 2020
Updated: November 18, 2020
President Hassan Rouhani and his supporters were cautiously optimistic that Joe Biden, the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election, could shift U.S. policy on Iran. “We hope the three-year experience will be a lesson for America's next administration to abide by laws and regulations and…

Joe Biden on Iran

November 9, 2020
Updated: December 14, 2020
Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 U.S. presidential election could have profound economic, diplomatic and security repercussions for the Islamic Republic. During the campaign, he repeatedly pledged to reenter the Iran nuclear deal that President Obama negotiated in 2015 and President Trump abandoned…

COVID-19 Cancels Anniversary of Embassy Seizure

November 4, 2020
Iran’s annual commemoration of the U.S. embassy takeover – which became an international crisis in 1979 and made the yellow ribbon a national symbol – was cancelled due to the coronavirus. Rallies were planned in Tehran and other cities for November 3 (the takeover occurred on November 4, but Iran…

U.S. Seized Iranian Weapons and Fuel Shipments

October 30, 2020
On October 29, the Justice Department announced that it had seized Iranian weapons bound for Yemen and sold 1.1 million barrels of Iranian oil bound for Venezuela. The government also unsealed two civil forfeiture complaints for the goods, which were intercepted in 2019 and 2020. The seizures were…

U.S. Sanctions Buyers and Sellers of Iran Oil

October 29, 2020
Updated: October 30, 2020
On October 29, the U.S. Treasury and the State Department sanctioned 11 companies and five individuals in Iran, China and Singapore for purchasing and selling Iranian oil. “The Iranian regime benefits from a global network of entities facilitating the Iranian petrochemical sector,” Secretary Steven…

News Digest: Week of October 26

October 28, 2020
October 26 Health: New lockdowns went into effect in 43 cities across Iran. Nearly all private businesses, religious institutions and government buildings would remain closed until November 20. Military: The United States threatened to destroy Iranian long-range missiles, if they were shipped to…

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Oil Sector

October 26, 2020
On October 26, the United States expanded sanctions on Iran’s oil sector for supporting the Qods Force, the elite branch of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for operations abroad.  “The Iranian regime continues to prioritize its support for terrorist entities and its nuclear program over the…

Part 1: Iran in the U.S. Election

October 23, 2020
Updated: November 4, 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: November 2, 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…