News Briefs

June 19, 2017
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched six Zolfaghar ballistic missiles at Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. The missiles targeted an ISIS command center and suicide car bomb operation, according to the IRGC. The IRGC stated that the strike was a response to ISIS attacks on Tehran earlier in June and a message to Saudi Arabia and the United States. When it was unveiled in September 2016, the Zolfaghar was described as having a 700 km range and carrying a cluster warhead. 
-- Associated Press via the Washington Post
June 15, 2017
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to increase sanctions on Russia and Iran by a vote of 98-2.  The measure would impose mandatory sanctions on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and those who do business with them.  The bill would also apply terrorism sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and enforce an arms embargo. Separately, the bill targets Russia with new sanctions and codifies executive orders signed by former President Barack Obama in response to the 2014 annexation of Crimea and Russian support for seperatists operating in Eastern Ukraine. The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives.
-- Associated Press
June 12, 2017
The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced that the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor's name had been changed to Khondab research reactor. Iran is redesigning the reactor to reduce its potential output of plutonium, as required by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
-- Press TV
June 2, 2017
The most recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran's implementation of the nuclear deal noted that Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium was 79.8 kg as of May 27th and that the level of enrichment did not exceed 3.67 percent.  Iran's stock of heavy water reached 128.2 metric tons, close to the 130 ton limit under the nuclear deal, according to the report.  However, Iran is currently not producing heavy water after shutting down its heavy water production plant for maintenance.  The IAEA verified the shutdown on May 16.
-- Reuters
June 2, 2017
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has named Michael D'Andrea as the new head of Iran operations at the agency, according to intelligence officials. D'Andrea, whose nicknames include the "Dark Prince" and "Ayatollah Mike," previously served as head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.
-- New York Times
May 25, 2017
Amirali Hajizadeh, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), stated that Iran has built a third underground missile production factory. Hajizadeh also stated that Iran would continue its missile production and tests and that a surface-to-surface missile is next in line for production.
-- Reuters
May 25, 2017
Legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, support for terrorism, and human rights violations won support from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 18-3 vote and now will be considered by the full Senate. The sanctions bill has bi-partisan support and is not considered by most lawmakers to violate U.S. obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
-- Reuters
May 24, 2017
In testimony before the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin stated that the Treasury Department was reviewing licenses for aircraft sales to Iran. IranAir has agreed to purchase 80 jets from Boeing, 100 from Airbus, and 20 from the Franco-Italian company ATR. All of these contracts require U.S. licenses because of their reliance on U.S. parts. Treasury has issued licences for the main contracts, but these licenses may need to be renewed in 2020. 
-- Reuters
May 20, 2017
Hassan Rouhani was re-elected president of Iran in a landslide victory. Rouhani won 57 percent of the 41 million votes cast, defeating his opponent Ebrahim Raisi. Turnout was high, with more than 70 percent of Iran's 56 million voters casting ballots. Rouhani is seen to represent a more moderate and reformist faction and has promised more economic openness.
-- New York Times
May 8, 2017
Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi announced plans to launch into orbit two domestically-produced satellites within the next few months. The Nahid 1 is a telecommunications satellite built at the Iranian Space Research Center. The Payam-e Amir Kabir is a remote sensing satellite built at Amir Kabir University of Technology capable of taking precision images. Iran has also manufactured a space tug called the Saman 1, which will be used to transfer satellites from low earth orbit to higher-energy orbits. 
-- Fars News Agency

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