News Briefs

September 13, 2020
An Iranian-flagged oil tanker alternatively known as "Honey" and "Horse" delivered two million barrels of condensate from Iran's South Pars field to the state-controlled Venezuelan port of Jose. The condensate will likely go to the Venezuelan state-owned enterprise Petroleos de Venezuela SA and be blended with Venezuela's lower-quality crude oil. The Iranian oil tanker, which belongs to the U.S.-sanctioned National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), turned off its transponder before heading from the Persian Gulf to Venezuela. The shipment marks the first time that Venezuela has imported Iranian crude oil; Venezuela has already received shipments of Iranian gasoline. Iran has supplied Venezuela with 1.5 million barrels of gasoline so far this year.
-- Bloomberg
September 13, 2020
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced that Iran has 1,044 centrifuges enriching uranium at the Fordow plant and that the uranium produced there will be stockpiled. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran had pledged to refrain from enriching uranium at Fordow. After the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed sanctions on Iran, however, Iran began reneging on some of its JCPOA commitments.
-- Bourse and Bazaar
September 10, 2020
The Iranian Navy started the three-day Zolfaghar 99 military exercise over two million square kilometers between the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Hormuz. The exercise involves drones, missiles, and warships as well as shore-to-sea and surface-to-surface cruise missiles, torpedoes, and rocket-launching systems attached to aircraft, submarines, and warships. The purpose of the exercise is to develop strategies for defending Iran's coast and nearby shipping lanes.
-- Bourse and Bazaar
September 8, 2020
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced that Iran had begun construction of a new building for centrifuge production in the mountains near the Natanz nuclear complex, Iran's primary uranium enrichment facility. Salehi described the new building as "more modern, wider, and more comprehensive" than Natanz. The development of the new site follows a July 2 explosion at Natanz, which damaged an advanced centrifuge development and assembly plant. An Iranian news agency has linked the explosion to Ershad Karimi, a contractor at Natanz. Karimi owns a company called Mehr that supplies precision measuring equipment.
-- The Times of Israel
September 5, 2020
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has stockpiled ten times more enriched uranium than permitted by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran now has 2,105 kilograms of enriched uranium whereas the JCPOA limits Iran to 300 kilograms in a particular compound form, the equivalent of 202.8 kilograms. The IAEA's announcement comes after Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit one of two suspected former nuclear sites. IAEA officials will visit the second such site later in September.
-- BBC
September 4, 2020
Iran's defense ministry showcased ground combat equipment and components for helicopters, communication and radar systems, and the aerospace, aviation, and marine industries at an exhibition in Tehran. Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami claimed that Iran could domestically produce 38,000 military parts as a result of cooperation between the ministry and private firms. Speaking on the sidelines of the exhibition, Admiral Amir Rastegari, head of the Marine Industries Organization, said that Iran intended to mount long-range vertical-launch cruise missiles on its warships. Separately, Iran's Air Defense Force announced that it had developed the Kashef-99, a 3D phased-array mobile radar system, which can detect 300 targets simultaneously within a range of 12 kilometers.
-- Caspian News
September 1, 2020
British national Colin Fisher pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in Florida to attempting to smuggle U.S. power-generating equipment to Iran and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Between October 2017 and August 2020, he attempted to export a Solar Mars 90 S turbine core engine, valued at $500,000, and other U.S.-made equipment to an end user in Iran. Fisher was arrested upon arrival at Pensacola International Airport returning from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, where he had arranged the purchase. He faces up to 30 years in prison. Fisher's partner in the scheme, James Meharg, chief executive and president of Turbine Resources International LLC, was convicted earlier and is currently serving a 40-month sentence in federal prison.
-- The Pensacola News Journal
August 29, 2020
Iran's central bank announced plans to challenge a U.S. lawsuit to seize $1.7 billion in Iranian assets held by the Luxembourg-based Clearstream, a unit of German stock exchange operator Deutsche Boerse. U.S. authorities have spent several years investigating whether Clearstream violated U.S. money laundering and Iran sanctions laws. In 2019, a Luxembourg court declined to act on a ruling by a U.S. court that would have enabled the families of U.S. citizens affected by terrorism to claim Iranian assets held by Clearstream. Deutsche Boerse has denied wrongdoing and intends to challenge the U.S. claim to the Iranian assets.
-- Reuters
August 28, 2020
A court in Bahrain imposed $1 million fines each on three executives of Future Bank, a financial institution accused of helping Iran evade sanctions and launder money. Each executive was also sentenced to five years in prison. In addition, the court fined the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks involved in the evasion scheme $1 million each. According to the court, Future Bank violated Bahraini laws and regulations, including by transferring $2.7 billion through an informal alternative to the SWIFT system. Bahraini officials allege that Future Bank concealed transactions totaling $7 billion dollars between 2004 and 2015, involving hundreds of bank accounts and phantom loans to front companies for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Bahrain seized Future Bank's assets in 2016.
-- News of Bahrain
August 27, 2020
The Golsan, an Iranian merchant vessel, delivered supplies for an Iranian supermarket in Venezuela before refilling with 14 thousand metric tons of Venezuelan alumina, which is used to manufacture aluminum. The Golsan docked at a port belonging to CVG Bauxilum, a Venezuelan state-owned enterprise specializing in alumina. The Iranian company Mosakhar Darya Shipping Co. owns the Golsan, and the Iranian firm Rahbaran Omid Darya manages it. In November 2018, the United States sanctioned both companies, which share an address.
-- Reuters