Khamenei on Nuclear Program, Talks

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei welcomed efforts by Iranian diplomats to get U.S. sanctions lifted as part of talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. Negotiators are “working to lift the sanctions and persuade the other side, which is good,” he said on February 17 in a speech marking the anniversary of an uprising against the monarchy in 1978.

News Digest: Week of February 7

February 7

Regional: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that the United States endorsed Israel's right to act, kinetically or otherwise, against Iran. He cited a U.S. readout on his conversation with President Joe Biden The readout published on February 6 noted Biden’s “unwavering support for Israel’s security and freedom of action,” though not specifically in relation to Iran.

Some of the information in this article was originally published on February 8, 2022.

U.S. & Iran on Eighth Round of Nuclear Talks

U.S. officials acknowledged modest progress in the eighth round of nuclear talks with Iran and the world’s major powers. The “negotiations in January were among the most intensive that we’ve had to date,” a senior State Department official said on January 31. “And we made progress narrowing down the list of differences to just the key priorities on all sides.” The diplomat, however, said that Iran needed to “decide whether it’s prepared to make those decisions necessary for a mutual return to compliance” with the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Some of the information in this article was originally published on February 1, 2022.

U.S. Charges Five Men with Sanctions Violations

On January 27, Saber Fakih, a 46-year-old British national, pleaded guilty to violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. In federal court in Washington, D.C., Fakih said that he conspired with four other men to export an Industrial Microwave System (IMS) and counter-drone system from the United States to Iran. The IMS, with some modifications, could be used to make a directed-energy weapon that could take down drones. U.S. sanctions forbid the export of items with possible military uses to Iran unless the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issues a license.

Raisi in Russia

On January 19, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Moscow to discuss expanding bilateral ties with Russia. In wide-ranging talks with President Vladimir Putin, Iran and Russia discussed cooperation on trade, banking, transportation, energy, regional security, and more.

“We in Iran have no limits for expanding ties with Russia,” Raisi said during a three-hour meeting at the Kremlin. The leaders sat on opposite sides of a long oval table but did not wear masks.  

U.S. Arrests Dual Citizen for Sanctions Violations

On January 14, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a dual Iranian-U.S. citizen for allegedly trying to send goods and technology to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). Kambiz Attar Kashani, age 44, allegedly “orchestrated an elaborate scheme to evade U.S. export laws and use the U.S. financial system in procuring U.S. electronic equipment and technology for the CBI,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.