News Briefs

March 23, 2020
The European Union will give Iran 20 million euros in humanitarian aid over the next two weeks to help combat the coronavirus. The EU will also support Iran’s request for financial help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
-- Reuters
March 22, 2020
The United States announced new sanctions on companies and individuals connected to Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation of Research (SPND), including scientists who worked on Iran’s nuclear program in the early 2000s. The United States accused Iran of keeping the scientists together as a team so that it would have the necessary expertise to develop a nuclear weapons program in the future. The individuals continue to work on R&D of dual-use technologies, and the listing will restrict them from participating in international conferences and performing research with foreign universities.
-- The Washington Post
March 21, 2020
France released Jalal Ruhollahnejad, an Iranian engineer wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions, in a prisoner swap for French academic Roland Marchal. A French court had already approved plans to extradite Ruhollahnejad to the United States, where he would face charges of attempting to acquire sensitive U.S. technology on behalf of a company with ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
-- Reuters
March 19, 2020
The United States imposed three new rounds of sanctions on Iran targeting more than a dozen individuals and companies. The Commerce Department added five Iranian nuclear scientists to its export control list; the State Department sanctioned eight firms and three executives for helping Iran sell petrochemical goods; and the Treasury Department blacklisted Alam Althrwa General Trading LLC and Alwaneo LLC Co. in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for purchasing petroleum products from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
-- The Wall Street Journal
March 17, 2020
Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was convicted of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran after he funneled $115 million in payments from a construction project in Venezuela to his Iranian relatives and their companies, including the Iranian International Housing Company (IIHC). Hasheminejad hid the Iranian connection to the payments and processed financial transactions using a network of front companies and bank accounts in Switzerland, Turkey, and St. Kitts & Nevis, including Clarity Trade and Finance and Stratus International Contracting. He was found guilty of five charges, including bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy to violate International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
-- Malta Today
March 17, 2020
Merdad Ansari, an Iranian national and United Arab Emirates resident, has been extradited to Texas, where he will face federal charges for his role in a scheme to sell military sensitive items to Iran from 2007-2011 in violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo. According to prosecutors, Ansari and his co-defendant, Mehrdad Foomanie, bought or attempted to buy more than 105,000 parts worth an estimated $2,630,800 and planned to ship them to Iran through Foomanie’s Hong Kong, Chinese, and Iranian companies. Ansari has been charged with conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), conspiracy to launder money, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and could face up to 45 years in prison.
-- The Hill
March 16, 2020
The U.S. Department of Commerce added six Iranian entities of national security concern to its Entity List, which subjects them to specific export licensing requirements and prohibitions. Iran Air was added to the list for its role in transporting military-related equipment to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian military. The listing cited the airline’s history of diverting spare parts from civilian aircraft to military-linked entities.
-- American Shipper
March 12, 2020
The United States conducted airstrikes against five weapons storage facilities linked to Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah (KB) in Iraq. The operation was in retaliation for a rocket attack on Camp Taji that killed two Americans and a British service member and wounded more than a dozen others. The Pentagon said that the U.S. strike was designed to damage KB’s ability to carry out future attacks against American forces in the region. According to a television station tied to the militia, the airstrike killed three individuals and injured four others.
-- The Wall Street Journal
March 11, 2020
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that would require the president to secure congressional approval before taking offensive military action against Iran. The legislation would not constrain the president from defending against imminent attacks. The bill already passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 55-45. The Trump Administration has said that it will veto the bill, and votes in both chambers of Congress fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override such a veto.
-- The Wall Street Journal
March 3, 2020
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report found that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has reached 372 kg, nearly tripling since November 2019 and far surpassing the 202.8 kg cap set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Some of the uranium has been enriched up to 4.5% purity, though about half is significantly lower. The length of time Iran would need to create a nuclear weapon has decreased, though exact estimates vary.
-- The Wall Street Journal