News Digest: Week of September 4

September 4

Nuclear: Iran slowed uranium enrichment to 60 percent, according to the IAEA. It enriched 7.5 kilograms (16.5 pounds) of uranium to 60 percent between June and August 2023. In the first half of 2023, Tehran enriched more than 50 kilograms of uranium to near weapons-grade. The IAEA added that Iran diluted 6.4 kilograms of 60 percent-enriched uranium to 20-percent enrichment. But the Islamic Republic increased its stockpile of uranium enriched to five and 20 percent and stalled negotiations over installing cameras at facilities. It also did not cooperate with an IAEA probe of undeclared nuclear material from 2019 and reportedly denied visas to agency inspectors. 

International: Johan Floderus, a 33-year-old Swedish citizen and E.U. diplomatic official, was detained in April 2022 for alleged espionage while on a tourist trip with friends, The New York Times reported. On May 6, 2022, Sweden’s foreign ministry announced that an unnamed Swedish man had been detained. In July, Iran confirmed that it had arrested a Swedish national. 

Floderus had last worked for the European commissioner for migration and as a diplomat on the European Union’s Afghanistan delegation based in Brussels. The Swede was held in Evin prison in Tehran and had previously traveled to the Islamic Republic in an official capacity for E.U. development business.

Domestic: Iran closed a large water park near Mashhad for “ignoring chastity and hijab rules,” Iranian media reported. The Mojhaye Khoroushan park was one of the largest in the world.


September 5

International: Iran and Saudi Arabia exchanged ambassadors. Iranian ambassador Alireza Enayati—former director of Gulf affairs at the foreign ministry and envoy to Kuwait—arrived in Riyadh. And Saudi ambassador Abdullah bin Saud al Anzi—a former envoy to Oman—arrived in Tehran.

Domestic: Security forces detained Safa Aeli, Mahsa Amini’s uncle, in northwestern Saqez. The move came days before the one-year anniversary of Amini’s death in detention, which sparked nationwide protests.


September 6

Human Rights: Nazila Maroufian, a 23-year-old journalist who interviewed Mahsa Amini's father after her death, said that she had been sexually assaulted when she was detained on August 30, according to rights groups and media. She had also started a hunger strike in prison. "This strike is for me but is also for all the women in dire conditions in Iran," she said in an audio recording.

Human Rights: Security forces killed at least eight people, including one child, and beat and detained dozens in western Javanrud during the crackdown on nationwide protests that erupted after Amini’s death in September 2022, according to a joint report by Kurdistan Human Rights Network and Human Rights Campaign. “The actions in Javanrud were systematic, carried out with the full knowledge and direction of government officials,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the director of Human Rights Campaign. “The extensive use of military equipment against civilians is a stark example of a crime against humanity.”

International: Daniel Abed Khalife, a British veteran accused of leaking information to Iran, escaped prison. He had gathered personal information about British soldiers.


September 7

International: Greek shipping firm Empire Navigation pleaded guilty to smuggling Iranian oil, according to The Associated Press. The company, which owned the Suez Rajan, would pay $2.4 million in fines. Washington had seized some one million barrels of oil on the ship while it was off the coast of Texas days before.

Human Rights: Rights group Human Rights Activists in Iran released a report on the hijab bill being considered by Iran’s Parliament to assess its potential impact. The legislation “violates Iran’s obligations under international human rights law and represents a systematic crackdown on women’s autonomy and freedom of expression,” the group said. It also identified some 180 people and entities “connected to the bill’s approval,” including members of parliament and the government as well as religious institutions.

Human Rights: A Revolutionary Court sentenced teacher activist Abolfazl Khoran to more than six years in prison, 72 lashes, a temporary ban from social media, and two years of imposed exile to western Delfan. He was accused of “disrupting public order” for participating in a ceremony for a protester killed during the nationwide demonstrations that erupted in September 2022. Khoran had been detained by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization on August 5.

Climate: Iran and Saudi Arabia would cooperate on “joint actions” to “fight the sources of sand and dust” in Saudi’s Empty Quarter desert, which is a significant source of sandstorms in Iran, according to Ali Salajegheh, the Iranian environment department chief.


September 9

Domestic: The Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization detained six people in southwest Iran for “organizing riots” ahead of the one-year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death. The organization also blocked five social media pages linked to the group. “Concurrent with attempts of the enemies to create chaos on the anniversary of last year’s riots, the administrators of these five social media pages were planning gatherings to create disturbances in the coming days,” the organization said.


September 10

International: Israel and partners prevented 27 Iranian plots against Israeli and Jewish targets since September 2022, Israeli Mossad chief David Barnea said. The plots spanned Europe, Africa, southeast Asia, and South America. “The plots being pursued by these teams were orchestrated, masterminded and directed by Iran,” Barnea said. He vowed that “prices will be exacted deep inside Iran, in the heart of Tehran.” The spy chief also warned that Tehran meant to send short- and long-range missiles to Russia for the war in Ukraine. “Our fear is that the Russians will transfer to the Iranians in return what they lack, advanced weapons that will certainly endanger our peace and maybe even our existence here,” Barnea said.

Domestic: A Revolutionary Court indicted three people–including Rahmatollah Norouzof, a Tajik man–for the August attack on Shah Cheragh shrine in Shiraz, which killed two. The suspects allegedly had ties to ISIS and were charged with “waging war against God” and “corruption on earth,” which carried the death penalty.


Some of the information in this article was originally published on September 7, 2023.