News Briefs

January 31, 2022
Iran moved centrifuge manufacturing equipment from the TESA Karaj plant to Isfahan in late January, just over a month after agreeing to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access the Karaj plant. Iranian officials notified the IAEA of the move on January 19 and allowed the Agency to install cameras at the Isfahan facility five days later. The Agency also placed seals on the remaining equipment in Karaj and removed its cameras there. The IAEA noted in a confidential report that production at Karaj had ceased and that the Isfahan facility had not yet begun production as of January 24. 
-- Reuters
January 31, 2022
Iran has allowed the IAEA to set up monitoring cameras in a new centrifuge manufacturing plant in Isfahan but will not allow the agency to view any footage or access the plant before a final deal is reached on restoring the JCPOA, according to Iran's ambassador to international organizations in Vienna. 
-- PressTv
January 22, 2022
Russia presented Iran with a draft interim nuclear agreement as part of ongoing negotiations to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) but was initially rebuffed, according to two U.S. officials. Under the terms of the proposed agreement, if Iran stopped enriching uranium to 60% purity and disposed of its current stockpile, it would be allowed to access billions of dollars in oil revenue currently frozen in offshore accounts. The draft deal would also restrict Iran's 20% enriched uranium program and its use of advanced centrifuges for six months, with the possibility of extension and greater sanctions relief as time went on. The United States was aware of the proposal. Iran's mission to the United Nations said on January 21 that Iran does not want an interim deal.
-- NBC News
January 21, 2022
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced on January 21 that it has begun negotiating the construction of two new units at the Bushehr nuclear power plant with Russia. Russia built Bushehr's first unit, a 1,000 megawatt reactor, in 2013. The announcement follows a visit by Iran's president to Moscow. 
-- Reuters/AFP
January 20, 2022
Iranian delegations have visited Myanmar at least twice since the country underwent a military coup in February 2021, according to diplomats based in Southeast Asia. Flight data showed that a plane operated by the Iranian carrier Qeshm Fars Air landed in Myanmar on January 13 and departed a day later. Qeshm Fars Air is sanctioned by the United States for ferrying weapons from Iran to Syria on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and the plane that landed in Myanmar was one of two aircraft specifically designated by the United States in 2019 for arms trafficking. A member of Myanmar's deposed civilian government said that the flights from Iran to Myanmar are "related to military technology." 
-- Asia Times
January 15, 2022
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tested a solid-fuel space rocket engine on January 13, according to the commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force. According to Hajizadeh, the satellite carrier was constructed out of a composite material lighter than metal, which would enable the engine to launch heavier payloads into orbit. Footage shows that the test took place on the ground. Satellite carriers usually use liquid fuel, whereas solid fuel is more often associated with ballistic missiles.
-- Associated Press
January 12, 2022
The U.S. government linked the MuddyWater hacking group to Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in a January 12 press release. By publishing MuddyWater's signature malicious code and intrusion methods, U.S. Cyber Command hopes to enable private sector organizations to better defend themselves from it. In the past, the hacking group has attacked government systems in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and some organizations in North America. This is the first time the United States has publicly linked the group to MOIS.
-- CNN
January 11, 2022
Chinese imports of Iranian and Venezuelan oil hit a three-year high in 2021, despite U.S. sanctions on both countries' oil trade. Purchasers in China bought 324 million barrels from the two countries in 2021, a 53% increase over 2020 levels and nearing a 2018 high of 352 million barrels. While crude oil from other sources became more expensive in 2021, sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan crude remained cheap by comparison. To cover their tracks, shippers often relabel Iranian and Venezuelan oil as originating in Oman and Malaysia. Official Chinese statistics have shown no oil imports from Iran since December 2020, but show increases in imports from Oman and Malaysia. 
-- Bloomberg
January 9, 2022
The U.N. Panel of Experts on Yemen concluded in an unreleased draft report that thousands of armaments intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen probably were drawn from Iranian government stocks and shipped from the Iranian port of Jask. The Panel inspected three shipments intercepted by the United States and Saudi Arabia from stateless dhows in 2020 and 2021 and concluded all three likely departed from Jask, a growing port city that hosts a naval base and oil terminal. The shipments contained weapons that were originally manufactured in Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Iran, and Russia, as well as thermal sights manufactured by an Iranian-Chinese partnership. Iran continues to deny any arms trade with the Houthis, and the Houthis' information minister called the accusation "an illusion."
-- The Wall Street Journal
January 3, 2022
Coalition forces stationed in Iraq shot down two explosive-laden drones on January 3rd. According to an Iraqi security official, the drones had targeted a base at the Baghdad airport that hosts U.S. military advisers. A coalition official described the drones as fixed-wing, "suicide drones." The drones were decorated with the messages "Soleimani’s revenge" and "revenge operations for our leaders" and were launched on the two-year anniversary of a U.S. drone strike that killed IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi militia leader at the Baghdad airport.
-- Associated Press