News Briefs

September 16, 2021
Hezbollah delivered over 13,000 gallons of Iranian diesel fuel into Lebanon amidst a severe energy crisis. Iran shipped the fuel via tanker to Syria. It was then loaded onto trucks at the Syrian port of Baniyas and shipped overland to Lebanon. The two-step process was intended to evade enforcement of U.S. sanctions on Iranian energy exports and avoid government-controlled Lebanese ports. Hezbollah claimed that more shipments are on the way and will arrive within weeks.
-- Associated Press
September 15, 2021
Mohammad Eslami, chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), admitted that the AEOI had removed damaged IAEA monitoring equipment at a centrifuge manufacturing site. The site near Karaj had been damaged in an explosion in June, and the IAEA reported in September that one camera was destroyed and the other severely damaged. Eslami claimed that the cameras were unnecessary because other parties to the JCPOA were not complying with the deal.
-- Associated Press
September 14, 2021
Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz said last week that Israel would tolerate a U.S.-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran. Previously, Israel had firmly opposed returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or a similar framework. However, Gantz also urged the United States to ready a "demonstration of power" if Tehran refuses to make concessions.
-- Foreign Policy
September 14, 2021
German authorities arrested a man on suspicions of using his company to procure items for Iran's nuclear program. The suspect, identified as Alexander J., allegedly purchased several spectrometers and sent them to an EU-sanctioned Iranian individual with known connections to Iran's nuclear enrichment activities. Spectrometers can be used to analyze radioactive material. 
-- Deutsche Welle
September 12, 2021
Iran agreed to install new memory cards in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring cameras at its nuclear facilities as a result of negotiations in Tehran between IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Mohammad Eslami. However, Iran will continue to withhold the cameras' recordings from the IAEA, as it has since February. Grossi said that the agreement would ensure "continuity of knowledge" that the IAEA would access if a return to the JCPOA nuclear deal is reached. Eslami said that Iran would take part in the IAEA's upcoming board meeting and continue talks with the Agency there. 
-- Associated Press
September 8, 2021
The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet launched a task force incorporating airborne and aquatic drones to counter Iranian attacks on vessels in its area of operations. The drones will monitor maritime activity in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, areas where vessels have been boarded by Iranian forces or have taken damage from mines and other explosions linked to Iran and its proxies. 
-- Associated Press
September 7, 2021
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on September 7 that, since May, Iran has increased its stockpile of 60% highly-enriched uranium (HEU) from 2.4 kilograms to 10 kilograms and its stockpile of 20% HEU from 62.8 kilograms to 84.3 kilograms. The Agency also said that Iran continues to block IAEA inspectors from accessing and servicing monitoring equipment at Iranian nuclear sites, and that some of the monitoring equipment has been destroyed or damaged. As a result, the Agency's ability to monitor Iran's activities is declining. Finally, the Agency reported that outstanding issues related to nuclear material stored at four undeclared sites remain unresolved two years after they were raised by the IAEA.
-- Associated Press
September 1, 2021
After Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian hinted at a possible two- or three-month delay before the country would resume nuclear negotiations in Vienna, the German and French Foreign Ministries released statements urging Tehran to restart dialogue sooner. Talks to return Iran and the United States to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) stalled following the election in June of Iran's new president, Ebrahim Raisi, and have yet to resume as Raisi forms his cabinet. On a call with Amir-Abdollahian, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stressed the urgency of the negotiations, while a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that the window to negotiate "won't be open indefinitely."
-- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
August 29, 2021
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi selected Mohammad Eslami, a former Minister of Roads and Urban Development, as the new director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). Eslami replaces Ali Akbar Salehi, an Iranian nuclear scientist. The United Nations sanctioned Eslami in 2008 over his role in illicit acquisitions for Iran's nuclear or missile program. At the time, he headed the Defense Industries Training and Research Institute, a subunit of the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. In recent years, Eslami served as Deputy Defense Minister for Research and Industry and held other roles in Iran's military industries. He has no reported experience in nuclear energy.
-- Associated Press
August 18, 2021
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on August 15 that Iran had introduced a second cascade of centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to 60 percent purity at the Natanz nuclear facility. The expansion doubles the Natanz facility's capacity to enrich uranium to 60 percent. Iran had previously shut down the second cascade in April, at the start of now-paused negotiations to return Iran and the United States to compliance with the JCPOA. Iran claimed to have stockpiled 8.9 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent in July, up from 2.4 kilograms the previous month.
-- Bloomberg