On August 1, the United States sanctioned six companies for helping to sell millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil and petrochemical products to East Asian buyers. Petrochemicals, derived from oil and natural gas, are essential to manufacturing paints, plastics, solar panels, medicine, and mobile phones that facilitate modern life.
On June 14, Iran condemned the tough rebuke by the U.N. nuclear watchdog for failing to explain traces of uranium and suspect activity. Tehran’s rebuttal escalates tensions with Iran and the world’s watchdog agency, which ultimately can report serious violations to the U.N. Security Council for further action.
Defense: Two men involved in Iran’s aerospace industry were “martyred” in separate incidents while on duty, according to local media. Ali Kamani, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, was killed in a “driving accident.” He was stationed in Khomein in central Markazi province. And Mohammad Abdous, who worked for the defense ministry, died in northern Semnan province.
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 Action (JCPOA). The report also expressed “serious concerns” about possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. Tehran has failed to fully cooperate with the U.N.
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 relations or criticize the Islamic Republic’s government.
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 attack was unjustified.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveiled a new ballistic missile on February 9. State media said that the missile, the Khaibar Shekan, had a range of 1,450 kilometers (900 miles), which could put its enemy Israel – as well as many U.S. bases in the region – well within its range. Iran’s western border is some 620 miles from Israel.
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.
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.
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).