News Briefs

July 6, 2021
On July 6, Iran accused Israel of orchestrating a failed attempt late last month to sabotage a nuclear facility in the Iranian city of Karaj. Ali Rabiei, a spokesman for Iran's cabinet, said that the attack caused a hole in a building's ceiling and a "not remarkable" level of damage to equipment, contradicting earlier Iranian claims that the alleged sabotage had resulted in no casualties or damage. Rabiei added that Iranian authorities had removed the building's roof for repairs. He alleged that the Israeli operatives were trying to undermine ongoing negotiations in Vienna to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
-- Associated Press
July 5, 2021
Mahmud Jafari, the manager of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) and deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said on July 5 that Iran had brought the BNPP back into operation a day earlier after fixing a fault in it its 1,000-megawatt reactor. Iran had shut down the BNPP, the country's only nuclear power plant, following the unspecified "technical fault" that the AEOI first mentioned publicly on June 20.
-- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
July 3, 2021
The U.S. Treasury Department announced on July 2 that it was lifting sanctions on the Iranian nationals Behzad Ferdows, Mehrzad Ferdows, and Mohammad Reza Dezfulian, whom the Treasury Department had designated in September 2020 under an executive order aimed at proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters. According to the Treasury Department press release outlining the basis for the original designation, Behzad Ferdows and Mehrzad Ferdows held shares in Mammut Industries, a company alllegedly supporting Iran's development of ballistic missiles, and Dezfulian served as managing director of the Mammut Industries subsidiary Mammut Diesel. The Treasury Department denied any connection between the removal of the sanctions and ongoing negotiations over Iran's nuclear program in Vienna.
-- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
July 1, 2021
Iran has limited the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the country's primary uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz, according to Western diplomats. Iran justified the move as necessary to preserve security at Natanz after an alleged Israeli attack on the site in April. The IAEA has not reported the matter to its member states or convened an emergency meeting of its board of governors. Separately, a temporary agreement between Iran and the IAEA to preserve data from the Agency’s monitoring cameras at Iranian nuclear facilities expired last week. The IAEA said that Iran had not responded to inquiries about extending the arrangement.
-- Reuters
June 23, 2021
According to U.S. defense officials, the U.S. Defense Department monitored a failed attempt by Iran to launch a satellite on June 12. The officials said that they had yet to determine why and at what stage the launch failed. Analysts concluded that Iran likely used a two-stage Simorgh space launch vehicle, which employs engines based on North Korean designs. Meanwhile, commercial satellite images taken on June 20 show indications that Iran is making preparations for a second launch. Some analysts believe that Iran can repurpose technology from its space program for use in the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
-- CNN
June 23, 2021
Iran's state media reported on June 23 that authorities foiled a "sabotage attack" against a nuclear facility in Karaj operated by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). The report added that the assault resulted in no casualties or damage and that Iran had yet to identify the perpetrators. Karaj contains two known sites tied to Iran's nuclear program: a location for the storage of radioactive waste and the Karaj Agricultural and Medical Research Center, an AEOI-run complex launched in 1974. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) lists the waste-storage site as a "safeguard facility" and visited it in 2003. The United Nations and the United States imposed sanctions in 2007 on the Karaj Agricultural and Medical Research Center, which the U.N. Security Council linked to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
-- Associated Press
June 21, 2021
Gholamali Rakhshanimehr, an official at the Iranian state-owned electrical company Tavanir, said that Iran had shut down the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) on June 19. It was the first time the plant has been shut down in its operational life. Tavanir announced separately that the BNPP would be undergoing repairs until June 25. According to Rakhshanimehr, the shutdown could result in power outages. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors the BNPP, said that it was aware of reports about a shutdown. In March, Iranian nuclear official Mahmoud Jafari had warned that the BNPP might stop operating because U.S. economic sanctions were preventing Iran from obtaining key components and equipment from Russia, which supplies the plant's fuel.
-- Associated Press
June 15, 2021
Ali Rabiei, a spokesman for Iran's government, announced on June 15 that Iran had produced about 6.5 kilograms of uranium enriched to 6.5 percent fissile purity since April and 108 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity over the previous five months. Uranium becomes fit for use in nuclear weapons at 90 percent purity.
-- Reuters
June 11, 2021
On June 11, Iran paid $16.2 million in late dues to the United Nations, thereby regaining its U.N. voting rights. The United Nations had suspended Iran's voting ability after Iran's earlier failure to pay its dues. Iran obtained the money from a bank account in South Korea that had previously been frozen due to U.S. financial sanctions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury ultimately allowed Iran to withdraw the funds, a potential signal to Iran as nuclear negotiations continue.
-- The New York Times
June 10, 2021
Unnamed current and former Middle Eastern and U.S. officials allege that Russia is taking steps to sell the Kanopus-V spy satellite to Iran. The officials said that the Kanopus-V could be launched from Russia within months and that its high-resolution camera would enable Iran to continuously surveil sites such as military sites in Israel, oil refineries in the Persian Gulf, and bases used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The officials added that leaders from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) traveled to Russia several times since 2018 to negotiate Iran's acquisition of the spy satellite and that Russian specialists made a trip to Iran to train Iranian ground crews to operate the satellite from a new facility in Karaj. According to a Middle Eastern official, Iran can use the Kanopus-V to maintain "an accurate target bank" for potential missile and drone strikes. Last year, Iran launched its own, allegedly less-capable Noor-1 military satellite following earlier failures.
-- The Washington Post