News Briefs

February 19, 2023
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors detected uranium particles enriched to 84% fissile purity in Iran in recent weeks, according to three senior diplomats. Iran does not however appear to be accumulating uranium stocks at that level, according to the diplomats. A spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency did not deny the report, but he suggested that more highly enriched particles could be a byproduct of enrichment to lower levels.
-- Wall Street Journal
February 19, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for an attack on the Campo Square oil tanker. The vessel, which is Liberian-flagged but linked to an Israeli businessman, was damaged by an airborne object on February 10 while it was sailing through the Arabian Sea, according to the ship's captain.
-- Reuters
February 15, 2023
The U.S. military said in a statement that it had shot down an Iranian-made drone flying over Mission Support Site Conoco in northeast Syria, where American troops are based. No group claimed responsibility for flying the drone.
-- Associated Press
February 13, 2023
The United Kingdom presented new evidence at the United Nations that Iran is supplying advanced weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Investigators found records of 22 test flights carried out at the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force headquarters saved on the hard drive of a quadcopter drone seized by the Royal Navy en route to Yemen in February 2022.
-- Associated Press
February 7, 2023
The Iranian Air Force unveiled a long-range air-launched cruise missile called Asef, which is designed to be carried by Su-24 tactical bomber aircraft. Officials claim the missile is manufactured domestically.
-- Tasnim News Agency
February 7, 2023
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced the beginning of operations at the Narigan Mining and Industrial Complex in Yazd province. At the inauguration ceremony, Mohammad Eslami, head of the AEOI, said that uranium from Narigan will be sent to Esfahan for "purification" and will be used for making nuclear fuel. He claimed that the site contained an estimated 650 tons of natural uranium and 4,600 tons of molybdenum.
-- World Nuclear News
February 5, 2023
According to unnamed officials from a U.S.-aligned country, Iran and Russia are advancing plans to build a factory in Russia that can produce at least 6,000 Iranian-designed drones in the coming years. On January 5, a delegation led by Abdollah Mehrabi and Ghassem Damavandian traveled to Yelabuga, Russia, to tour the planned site. The two countries are also developing a version of the Shahed-136 suicide drone with a better engine that would travel faster and farther than the current model. The drone factory is part of a $1 billion deal between Tehran and Moscow.
-- Wall Street Journal
February 1, 2023
The International Atomic Energy Agency criticized Iran for making a change to the mode of connection between centrifuge cascades at Fordow without informing the agency beforehand. The agency discovered the change during an unannounced visit and said the failure to inform the IAEA was inconsistent with Iran's safeguards obligations. The change was made to the connection between two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges that were enriching uranium to 60% purity.
-- Reuters
February 1, 2023
On January 15, French forces seized a shipment of Iranian-supplied weapons headed for Yemen's Houthi rebels. The seized shipment contained more than 3,000 assault rifles, 500,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, and 20 antitank guided missiles. The naval operation took place off the coast of Yemen and was coordinated with the U.S. military. In a separate action, Yemeni security forces seized 100 drone engines headed for Houthi militants.
-- Wall Street Journal
January 30, 2023
A senior Iranian central bank official said that Iran and Russia have linked their interbank communication and transfer systems to help facilitate trade. The official asserted that the new system will link about 700 Russian banks with 106 banks from 13 other countries, and that it would reduce Iran's need to access the SWIFT financial messaging service, from which Iran has been disconnected since 2018.
-- Reuters

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