News Briefs

October 11, 2021
An Iranian hacking group targeted U.S. and Israeli firms in the aerospace, maritime, and defense sectors from at least July through October 2021, according to Microsoft. Approximately 250 companies were targeted and fewer than 20 were breached. Microsoft announced that some companies are still vulnerable to repeat attacks. Several of the targeted companies have contracted with the U.S., European Union, and Israeli governments and have developed satellite systems, drone technology and radars. 
-- CNN
October 10, 2021
In September, the IAEA estimated that Iran's stockpile of 20% enriched uranium amounted to 84.3 kilograms. Iran's nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami told Iranian state media on October 9th that Iran actually possesses over 120 kilograms of the material. Eslami claimed that the additional production was necessary because other parties to the JCPOA have not delivered fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor as promised by the 2015 agreement.
-- Associated Press
October 8, 2021
Germany's financial regulator banned Bank Melli's Hamburg branch from issuing new loans on October 7. According to the regulator, BaFin, the bank had violated the "four-eyes principle," a transparency rule to increase regulatory oversight over certain decisions. 
-- Reuters
October 8, 2021
The U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control removed an Iranian industrial corporation and its subsidiary from its Specially Designated Nationals list on October 8, after the businesses challenged their designation in U.S. court. Mammut Industrial Group and its subsidiary, Mammut Diesel, had been designated in September 2020 for allegedly supplying Iran’s missile programs. Three individuals associated with the companies had also been designated at the time but were delisted in July 2021. A Treasury Department spokesperson claimed that the delistings were unrelated to negotiations to return Iran and the United States to compliance with the JCPOA nuclear agreement.
-- Al-Monitor
October 5, 2021
Iran called on the IAEA to publicly condemn what it said was an attack on one of its nuclear facilities. In June, Iranian authorities claimed to have thwarted a sabotage attempt at a centrifuge plant in Karaj, but on October 3 the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, said that the attack "severely damaged" the Karaj site and accused Israel of carrying it out. In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that Iran had denied its investigators access to the Karaj plant contrary to an agreement between the Agency and Iran. Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, said that such access was never agreed upon, but Gharibabadi admitted that some IAEA monitoring equipment was damaged during the June incident and added that it was "unfortunate" that the IAEA would not put blame on Israel.  
-- Agence France-Presse
October 5, 2021
At a ceremony on October 5, Israel's top military commander signaled that the country may escalate operations against Iran and hinted at covert actions. Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi said that "operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue". The same day, Israel and the United States held a bilateral meeting in Washington in which U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his counterpart, Eyal Hulata, that diplomacy remains the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb but that the United States was "prepared to turn to other options" if negotiations fail. 
-- Associated Press
October 3, 2021
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Sunday that the United States should unfreeze Iranian assets held in foreign banks to prove its seriousness about nuclear negotiations. He proposed that $10 billion be released to show "genuine goodwill and intention". Iranian leaders have demanded total sanctions relief before they return Iran to compliance with the JCPOA, the 2015 agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program.
-- Deutsche Welle
September 29, 2021
Norwegian authorities have pressed charges against a professor for violating sanctions on Iran between 2018 and 2019. The professor invited four Iranian researchers to a university in Trondheim, where he gave them access to the "nano-mechanical lab", which can analyze metal alloys. One of the Iranian researchers allegedly installed software on a computer system that allowed him to continue to collect data without university credentials. Norwegian prosecutors said that the knowledge had the potential to be useful to Iran's nuclear program. The professor, a German-Iranian dual citizen, has left Norway but is willing to return for court proceedings, according to his attorney. 
-- Associated Press
September 27, 2021
A fire from an unknown source damaged an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) facility on September 26, killing two IRGC personnel and injuring at least one other. The facility near Tehran is operated by the IRGC Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization (RSSJO), an entity designated by the U.S Treasury for its involvement in ballistic missile research. 
-- Associated Press
September 26, 2021
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement on September 26 that Iran has violated an agreement with the Agency by continuing to block IAEA inspectors from accessing equipment at a centrifuge manufacturing plant in Karaj. The agreement, reached two weeks earlier, would have allowed the IAEA to service monitoring equipment and replace memory cards. According to the IAEA, Iran allowed the Agency access to all necessary sites except the Karaj facility. Iran's ambassador to the IAEA claimed that access to the Karaj site was not part of the agreement. In June, the Karaj complex suffered a possible sabotage event that destroyed an IAEA camera there.
-- Reuters

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