News Briefs

November 5, 2021
Iran has increased its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to 210 kilograms and its stockpile of 60% enriched uranium to 25 kilograms, according to an Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesperson. Two days prior, on November 3rd, Iran, the European Union, and the United States announced that negotiations to return Iran and the United States to compliance with the JCPOA will resume in Vienna on November 29. 
-- Associated Press
November 4, 2021
On October 24, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy vessels seized a Vietnamese oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman and escorted it into Iranian waters near Bandar Abbas. A U.S. Navy destroyer was nearby during the incident. Iranian state media reported that U.S. warship had captured the tanker, the MV Sothys, and the IRGC freed it. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that IRGC forces unlawfully captured the MV Sothys while the U.S. Navy vessel observed but did not engage. Satellite imagery and analysis by non-governmental groups indicated that the MV Sothys had previously called at Iranian ports and possibly carried Iranian oil. A Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed that Vietnam had sought information from Iran about the incident and the status of the vessel and its crew.
-- Associated Press
October 29, 2021
The U.S. Treasury Department targeted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)'s drone program with sanctions on October 29. The Treasury Department claimed that the IRGC has supplied armed drones to groups in Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. The new sanctions, on senior IRGC officers and companies supplying drone components to the IRGC, preceded a meeting between U.S. President Biden and his counterparts from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue. Iran had said earlier that it planned to rejoin nuclear negotiations in Vienna in late November. 
-- Associated Press
October 25, 2021
U.S. officials have accused Iran of orchestrating and supplying materials for a drone attack launched against U.S. and coalition forces in Syria in mid-October. While the drones were not launched from Iran, according to the officials, they were Iranian-made and Iran allegedly "faciliated" their use. U.S. and coalition troops use the al-Tanf base to train local forces and conduct counter-ISIS operations. The attack, which used as many as five explosive-packed drones, did not cause any injuries or deaths.
-- Associated Press
October 25, 2021
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on October 25 that Iran plans to feed 20% enriched uranium into additional centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment plant. While this process would normally produce high-enriched uranium (HEU) of greater than 20% purity, the IAEA said Iran is not preserving the HEU. Instead, it is reportedly mixing the HEU with waste and disposing of it. Iran is likely taking these steps to study the enrichment process. Iran began the process on October 25 using one IR-6 centrifuge, according to the IAEA.
-- Reuters
October 22, 2021
A U.S. appellate court ruled that Halkbank, a Turkish bank, is not shielded from criminal charges related to a $20 billion Iran sanctions evasion scheme that took place between 2011 and 2015. The October 22 ruling comes after the bank argued its conduct was protected by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The court found that the Act exempts crimes committed during commercial activity, so prosecutors may proceed with criminal charges first pressed in 2019. Earlier criminal cases against the individuals who used Halkbank to channel funds to Iran, Reza Zarrab and Mehmet Hakan Atilla, resulted in guilty pleas and convictions. 
-- Associated Press
October 19, 2021
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Raphael Grossi said on October 18 that he has not been able to speak directly with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabddollahian and that he needs to do so urgently. Meanwhile, Grossi said Iran's breakout time to having enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon is down to "a few months" and is becoming shorter as Iran employs more advanced centrifuges. He added that IAEA's monitoring system is "not intact" due to Iran's continued refusal to allow new cameras at a centrifuge manufacturing plant in Karaj. The plant was damaged in a June attack that Iran blames on Israel. 
-- Financial Times
October 11, 2021
An Iranian hacking group targeted U.S. and Israeli firms in the aerospace, maritime, and defense sectors from at least July through October 2021, according to Microsoft. Approximately 250 companies were targeted and fewer than 20 were breached. Microsoft announced that some companies are still vulnerable to repeat attacks. Several of the targeted companies have contracted with the U.S., European Union, and Israeli governments and have developed satellite systems, drone technology and radars. 
-- CNN
October 10, 2021
In September, the IAEA estimated that Iran's stockpile of 20% enriched uranium amounted to 84.3 kilograms. Iran's nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami told Iranian state media on October 9th that Iran actually possesses over 120 kilograms of the material. Eslami claimed that the additional production was necessary because other parties to the JCPOA have not delivered fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor as promised by the 2015 agreement.
-- Associated Press
October 8, 2021
Germany's financial regulator banned Bank Melli's Hamburg branch from issuing new loans on October 7. According to the regulator, BaFin, the bank had violated the "four-eyes principle," a transparency rule to increase regulatory oversight over certain decisions. 
-- Reuters

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