Raisi’s First Moves on Foreign Policy

In the early days of his presidency, Ebrahim Raisi outlined two main priorities in Iranian foreign policy: improving relations with neighbors, and expanding ties with Asian powers, including China and Russia. “I extend a hand of friendship and brotherhood to all countries in the region, especially neighbors,” Raisi said during his inauguration speech on August 5.

Some of the information in this article was originally published on September 23, 2021.

At UN, Raisi Blasts US, Backs Nuclear Talks

On September 21, President Ebrahim Raisi expressed support for diplomatic negotiations to restore full U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules,” he said during his debut address to the United Nations. “All parties must stay true to the nuclear deal and the U.N. Resolution in practice.”

Sanctions on Hezbollah and IRGC Networks

On September 17, the Treasury Department announced sanctions, authorized under Executive Order 13224, on a network of facilitators and front companies in the Middle East and Far East that helped fund Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards elite Quds Force. Treasury designated 11 individuals in China, Kuwait, and Lebanon, as well as eight entities in China and Hong Kong.

IAEA Report: Breakout Time Shortens

In its quarterly report on September 7, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was enriching uranium at levels significantly higher than allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal, which experts subsequently warned could allow Iran to amass sufficient fuel for a single nuclear bomb within one to two months. The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), led to limits so that the so-called “breakout time” would be more than a year. The report also said that Iran was impeding international inspectors from tracking Iran’s facilities.

U.S. Charges Florida Family with Sanctions Violations

On September 14, the Justice Department announced several charges against a former University of Miami professor, Mohammad Faghihi, his wife Farzaneh Modarresi and sister Faezeh Faghihi related to their alleged violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran. The family operated a genetic sequencing company that received nearly $3.5 million in suspect wire transfers. Some of the funds were then used to purchase scientific equipment from U.S. manufacturers to ship it to Iran without a license from the Treasury Department. 

U.S. Sentences Iranian for Exporting Military Sensitive Parts

On September 14, the Justice Department sentenced an Iranian national, Mehrdad Ansari, to more than five years in prison for trying to obtain parts that have potential military uses for Iran. “Ansari and his co-conspirators attempted to profit from a far-reaching, extensive scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. They repeatedly lied to numerous U.S. suppliers and illegally obtained very sensitive dual-use items,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko said. The parts Ansari procured would allow Iran to test weapons and communications systems. 

U.S. Settlement with Bank on Sanctions Violations

On August 27, the U.S. Treasury announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with Romanian bank First Bank SA and its American parent company, JC Flowers & Co., for apparent violation of Iran and Syria sanctions. The bank and company agreed to pay $862,318 for processing 98 commercial transactions totaling $3.6 million through U.S. banks on behalf of parties in Iran and Syria. Out of the 98 transactions, 62 were linked to Iran, totaling $2.53 million.