News Briefs

October 20, 2023
A U.S. Navy warship operating in the Red Sea shot down four cruise missiles and 15 drones over the course of nine hours, according to a U.S. official, who said that the projectiles' trajectory left "little doubt" that their intended target was Israel. A Pentagon spokesman said earlier that the weapons had been launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and were headed north, "potentially" toward targets in Israel.
-- CNN
October 12, 2023
The United States and Qatar agreed to deny Iranian requests to access the $6 billion in funds that had been transferred from South Korean to Qatari bank accounts as part of a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap agreement. Previously, the funds were available to be used for humanitarian purposes, with the U.S. Treasury Department reviewing transaction requests on a case-by-case basis. A White House spokesman said that none of the funds had been spent to date, however.
-- New York Times
October 9, 2023
U.S. and Israeli officials said they had no firm evidence of a direct Iranian role in Palestinian militants' surprise attack against Israel on October 7, but, according to U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer, Iran was "broadly complicit" in supporting Hamas. In recent years, Iran has supplied the group with funding, military training, and technical assistance in manufacturing rockets and drones with advanced guidance systems. Iran's mission to the United Nations denied a direct Iranian role in the attack, while Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi praised the Hamas operation.
-- Washington Post
October 9, 2023
Iran and Sudan announced they would restore diplomatic relations. Sudan had severed ties with Iran in 2016 after protestors stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore relations seven months ago, in an agreement brokered by China.
-- Associated Press
September 27, 2023
Iran successfully placed an imaging satellite dubbed Noor-3 into low-earth orbit, according to state media. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) conducted the launch from what appeared to be its launch facility at Shahroud.
-- Associated Press
September 27, 2023
Iranian state media showed footage of what appeared to be a Shahed-136 one-way attack drone powered by a jet engine. Compared to the standard model, which uses a propeller, a jet-powered version would likely fly faster but consume fuel more quickly, potentially reducing its operating range. The new model also appeared to have a nose-mounted camera.
-- Forbes
September 18, 2023
Five Americans who had been detained in Iran departed the country and returned to the United States after a brief stopover in Doha, Qatar. Iran released the detainees after the United States unfroze $6 billion in Iranian funds held in South Korean banks and granted clemency to five Iranians who had been charged with crimes in the United States.
-- Reuters
September 16, 2023
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi said that the Iranian government had revoked the credentials of about one-third of the Agency's group of inspectors stationed in Iran, preventing some of its most experienced personnel from monitoring the Iranian nuclear program. Grossi condemned the move and said it "constitutes an unnecessary blow to an already strained relationship between the IAEA and Iran.”
-- Associated Press
September 14, 2023
Jalal Hajavi, a resident of Virginia, was convicted in U.S. court of exporting heavy equipment from the United States to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions laws. Hajavi used his Florida-based company JSH Heavy Equipment, LLC, to purchase a blasthole drill and other machinery in the United States and ship it to the United Arab Emirates, where the items were then transshipped to Iran. Hajavi also falisified records about the goods' final destination to conceal his activities.
-- U.S. Department of Justice
September 4, 2023
In a confidential report, the International Atomic Energy Agency stated that Iran's stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent had grown during the previous quarter, albeit at a slower pace than in the previous reporting period, and that a small amount of the material had been diluted to a lower enrichment level. A second report said that there had been no progress on resolving several safeguards issues, including an investigation into uranium particles found at two undeclared sites. The Agency also reported no progress in re-installing monitoring equipment that had been introduced at centrifuge manufacturing facilities and other sites pursuant to the 2015 nuclear deal but was removed by Iran in 2022.
-- Reuters