News Briefs

April 28, 2023
The U.S. Department of Justice seized the Suez Rajan, an oil tanker loaded with Iranian crude and destined for China, under a court order. The Suez Rajan is owned by Fleetscape, an affiliate of the U.S.-based firm Oaktree Capital. Oaktree Capital denied that it or Fleetscape had an ownership interest in the vessel's cargo. Days later, Iran detained the Advantage Sweet, an oil tanker bound for the United States, in the Gulf of Oman.
-- Financial Times
April 24, 2023
Over the past six months, Russian ships have transported more than 300,000 artillery shells and a million rounds of ammunition from Iran to Russia through the Caspian Sea. According to officials in the Middle East, the most recent such shipment included 1,000 containers with 2,000 artillery shells on board the Rasul Gamzatov, a Russian cargo ship owned by the shipping company MG-FLOT, formerly known as TransMorFlot LLC. Publicly available shipping data showed that the vessel transited from Bandar Amirabad, Iran, to Astrakhan, Russia, between March 8 and March 14, and then made another trip in late March.
-- Wall Street Journal
April 18, 2023
Two companies, Taiwan-based DES International Co. Ltd. and Brunei-based Soltech Industry Co. Ltd., pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions and export control laws. The companies have directors and employees in common and worked together to procure U.S.-origin goods, including a power amplifier and cybersecurity software, on behalf of an Iranian research center. Both were sentenced to pay a fine of $83,769 and to serve a five-year term of corporate probation.
-- Department of Justice
April 12, 2023
Iran funneled military equipment into Syria disguised as humanitarian aid shipments following the February earthquake in Syria and Turkey, according to Syrian, Iranian, Israeli, and Western sources. The supplies included communications equipment, radar batteries, and spare parts to upgrade Syria's air defense system. An Israeli defense official said the shipments were organized by a unit of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force and delivered to the Aleppo airport. Iran denied the claims.
-- Reuters
April 12, 2023
Iran has held secret talks with Russia and China to acquire large quantities of ammonium perchlorate, according to diplomats familiar with the matter. Ammonium perchlorate is an ingredient in solid missile propellant. Sajjad Ahadzadeh, Iran's "technology counselor" in China, has led the talks, which have also included Russian chemical maker FKP Anozit, according to the diplomats.
-- Politico
April 11, 2023
On April 5, Russian airline Aeroflot sent an Airbus A330 aircraft to Iran for repairs, where specialists from Mahan Air will service the landing gear. Iran and Russia reportedly signed an agreement in 2022 for Iran to supply Russian airlines with spare aircraft parts and maintenance services after sanctions cut off their access to the European suppliers they had previously relied upon. According to Russian state media, Iran was chosen as a maintenance location because it does not enforce Western sanctions.
-- Simple Flying
April 7, 2023
Niloufar Bahadorifar (a.k.a. “Nellie Bahadorifar”) was sentenced to four years in prison for providing financial services to Iran and the government of Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. Bahadorifar's services ultimately supported a plot to kidnap an Iranian dissident living in New York City, which was orchestrated by Iranian intelligence officials and included co-defendant Mahmoud Khazein. In one instance, Bahadorifar allegedly facilitated a payment to a private investigator for surveilling the target of the plot.
-- Department of Justice Press Release
March 30, 2023
The U.S. Department of Commerce issued an order denying the export privileges of Kenneth Peter Scott and his companies Scott Communications, Inc. and Mission Communications, LLC for a period of twenty years. As part of a settlement agreement, Scott Communications admitted to attempting to export two radios to Jordan, knowing that they were destined for Iran, without the required license.
-- Bureau of Industry and Security Press Release
March 27, 2023
Dariush Niknia was sentenced to 34 months in prison and Richard Lant was sentenced to 24 months of home detention and a $7,500 fine by a U.S. court in California in connection with a conspiracy to supply military goods to Iran. In 2015, Niknia, Lant, and others were involved in a scheme to supply 500 Russian-made tank helmets to a contact in Tehran through Lant's company, R&L Ltd.
-- Department of Justice
March 23, 2023
Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Iran could assemble a nuclear weapon several months after producing the necessary fissile material. Milley's estimated timeframe was significantly shorter than those offered by other Western officials, who have said Iranian weaponization would take a year or more. Milley also said that the United States would not allow Iran to have a "fielded nuclear weapon."
-- Wall Street Journal