News Briefs

May 17, 2019
The U.S. State Department claimed in a video that the Quds Force, part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has built a military training base near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, near Beit Moubarak and in the vicinity of the Rayak Air Force base. According to the video, the IRGC uses the base to train soldiers in the use of armored personnel carriers. The State Department indicated that the United States had first uncovered the Iranian base in Lebanon in February 2019.
-- The Jerusalem Post
May 15, 2019
The White House expressed concern about a potential Iranian attack after American intelligence agencies observed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stocking boats in the Persian Gulf with missiles. American officials worried that the IRGC planned to use the missiles against American naval ships. The State Department evacuated the American embassy and an American consulate in Iraq in response to the threat. However, European, Iraqi, and some American officials argue that Iran only intended the deployment as a defensive move. One image of a small boat carrying an Iranian missile was declassified but the image has not been released by the Defense Department.
-- The New York Times
May 13, 2019
On May 12, unidentified assailants attacked an Emirati, a Norwegian, and two Saudi oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The United States suspects that Iran orchestrated the attacks, but neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates have made any announcements about the identity of the attackers. Iran denied involvement.
-- The Wall Street Journal
May 9, 2019
Alexey Likhachov, director general of Russia's Rosatom, said that tensions surrounding U.S. sanctions would not affect Rosatom's ongoing work at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant. Rosatom subsidiary ASE and the Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran signed a turnkey contract in 2014 for the construction of two VVER-1000 nuclear power units at Bushehr, for a combined capacity of 2100 MWe. Bushehr units 2 and 3 are scheduled to be completed in 2024 and 2026, respectively.
-- World Nuclear News
May 3, 2019
The amount of petroleum that Iran exports is expected to decrease in May as a result of U.S. sanctions. Sanctions imposed in November have already halved Iran's oil exports to approximately 1 million barrels per day (bpd). An Iranian official estimated that the country would export between 500,000 and 700,000 thousand bpd from May onward, while an official with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed the number between 400,000 and 600,000 bpd. Iran's decision to stop reporting oil production figures to OPEC and the fact that Iranian tankers have been switching off their automatic tracking system (AIS) signals makes it difficult to assess Iran's export volume.
-- Reuters
April 22, 2019
The United States announced that it will start imposing sanctions on eight countries if they do not stop buying Iranian oil after sanctions waivers expire on May 2. Of the eight countries, Italy, Greece, Japan, and Taiwan have already stopped buying Iranian oil. China, India, South Korea, and Turkey could still be sanctioned. Forty percent of Iran’s revenue comes from oil sales. U.S. officials are predicting that there will not be a substantial rise in global oil prices after the waivers end, and have said that there are agreements in place with other countries to offset the reduced supply if necessary.
-- Washington Post
April 21, 2019
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has replaced the top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Major General Ali Jafari served as the top commander from 2007 until April 21, 2019, when he was replaced by Brigadier General Hossein Salami, who was promoted to the rank of major general. The IRGC reports directly to the Supreme Leader, and is in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile development and Quds Force operations. The Islamic Republic News Agency first announced the change in leadership but did not specify why. The change comes two weeks after President Trump announced the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
-- New York Times
April 6, 2019
A battery explosion in the Shahid Darvishi shipyard in Bandar Abbas, Iran, killed three officials from Iran's armed forces. The officials were repairing a submarine, according to Iranian state media. Sharvid Darvishi shipyard builds and repairs surface vessels and submarines. This explosion follows a fire, on February 3, at Iran's Space Research Center, in which three Iranian aerospace researchers died. These events have led to speculation about possible sabotage at Iran's military installations by the United States. 
-- Radio Farda
April 4, 2019
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has inspected a site in Tehran identified by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September 2018 as housing 300 tons of nuclear equipment and as much as 15 kilograms of radioactive material. A team from the IAEA visited the site in February 2019 and took environmental samples that are being analyzed. However, the Agency has been criticized for its delayed inspection, which may have allowed Iran to move or remove items from the site. 
-- Wall Street Journal
April 3, 2019
Iran has been blamed for cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure in the United Kingdom on December 23, 2018. The Post Office, local government networks, companies, and banks have been compromised in an “ongoing” campaign to steal the personal details of thousands of individuals, including Members of Parliament. Cyber security experts have concluded that a group connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is responsible for the attack. A European intelligence chief has labeled Iran as the third major cyber threat to the West after Russia and China. 
-- Sky News