News Briefs

January 16, 2024
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out cross-border missile strikes in Syria and Iraq. The attacks were aimed against what the IRGC said were Islamic State-linked targets in Idlib, Syria, and Israeli Mossad-linked targets in Erbil, Iraq. The strikes were in retaliation for an Islamic State terrorist attack in Kerman in January and the suspected Israeli killing of IRGC general Seyed Razi Mousavi in Damascus in December. The operation involved the launch of four Kheibar Shekan ballistic missiles from Khuzestan province, four unspecified missiles from Kermanshah province, and seven missiles from West Azerbaijan province.
-- Tasnim News Agency
January 16, 2024
Iraq recalled its ambassador to Iran and summoned the Iranian charge d'affaires in Baghdad following an Iranian missile strike targeting a residence in Erbil. Iraq's prime minister characterized the strike as "aggression" against Iraq.
-- Reuters
January 11, 2024
Iran seized an oil tanker carrying Iraqi crude and destined for Turkey. The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel, named St Nikolas and owned by the Greek company Empire Navigation, was boarded by Iranian forces in the Gulf of Oman. The tanker is the same vessel that the United States seized in a sanctions enforcement operation in 2023, when it was transporting Iranian oil. At that time the ship was named Suez Rajan.
-- Reuters
January 9, 2024
The Dutch newspaper Volkskrant reported that it had identified the individual responsible for planting the Stuxnet computer virus at the Natanz nuclear complex. According to the report, Erik Van Sabben, a Dutch national, was recruited by Dutch intelligence services in 2005 and installed equipment containing the malware at Natanz in 2007. He was working as an engineer in Dubai at the time of the sabotage. The Dutch government was reportedly unaware of Van Sabben's actions at the time.
-- Anadolu Agency
January 4, 2024
The United States carried out an airstrike on a headquarters in Baghdad of the Iran-aligned Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba militia group, killing one of its leaders, Mushtaq Talib al-Saidi, also known as Abu Taqwa. Iraq's military spokesman condemned the strike as a "dangerous escalation" and said that the United States did not have authorization for it.
-- Washington Post
December 27, 2023
Iran and Russia have finalized an agreement to conduct trade in their own currencies rather than use the U.S. dollar, according to Iranian state media. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), led by Russia, also signed a free-trade agreement with Iran.
-- Reuters
December 26, 2023
Iran tripled the rate at which it is enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, according to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The production rate reached nine kilograms per month, where it stood in early 2023 before Iran slowed its pace of enrichment beginning in June. The IAEA also said that Iran had once again connected two cascades of advanced centrifuges using modified subheaders, a modification that would allow it to produce weapons-grade uranium faster if it chose to do so.
-- Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2023
The United States said a one-way attack drone that struck a chemical tanker in the Indian Ocean was launched from Iran. The tanker, the Chem Pluto, is flagged in Liberia but is owned by the Japanese company Rio Brilliante and managed by the Netherlands-based Ace-Quantum Chemical Tankers, which is connected to Israeli businessman Idan Ofer. Iran declined to comment on the attack. The Houthis, an Iranian allay that has recently attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea, neither denied nor confirmed involvement, though the attack took place nearly out of range of drones known to be possessed by the Houthis in Yemen.
-- Wall Street Journal
December 22, 2023
A White House spokesperson said that Iran is providing monitoring, tactical intelligence, and weaponry to enable Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea. Anonymous Western and regional security officials pointed to a surveillance vessel in the Red Sea operated by Iran's paramilitary forces as key node for the intelligence collection, and claimed that Houthi missiles rely on radar capabilities provided by Iran. The United States also released declassified intelligence linking Iran to the specific weaponry that the Houthis have used in recent attacks. A spokesperson for the Houthis denied that it relied on Iran for intelligence.
December 19, 2023
The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment charging Iranian national Hossein Hatefi Ardakani and China-based Gary Lam (Lin Jinghe) with crimes related to the procurement of U.S.-manufactured electronics for Iran's drone program. In one instance, in 2015, Ardakani, Lam, and their co-conspirators caused an unwitting French company to purchase analog-to-digital converters from a U.S.-based company. A division of the French company then shipped the goods to Hong Kong, where they were re-exported to Iran. The conspirators also arranged similar transfers using companies in Canada and mainland China. In addition, the Justice Department announced the related seizure of more than $800,000 in property from Nava Hobbies SDN BHD and Arta Wave SDN BHD, both involved in Ardakani and Lam's procurement efforts.
-- U.S. Department of Justice Press Release