News Briefs

July 6, 2020
Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri, who heads the Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), claimed that Iran had established "missile cities" along its southern coast on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, as well as offshore. He said the sites contain surface-to-air missiles.
-- The Times of Israel
July 5, 2020
Iranian officials acknowledged that an explosion at the Natanz nuclear complex caused significant damage and set the country's nuclear program back by months. The explosion took place at a warehouse where advanced centrifuges are assembled, according to a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. The spokesman said that the warehouse held "advanced equipment and precision measurement devices" that were "either destroyed or damaged," which may "slow down the development and expansion of advanced centrifuges." A Middle Eastern intelligence officer and a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) asserted that the explosion was caused by a bomb. Israel may be responsible for the attack; Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied involvement.
-- The New York Times
July 5, 2020
Etka, an Iranian company subordinate to the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces (MODAFL) and tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has established a retail supermarket in Venezuela. Etka is supporting a military-run emergency food program that Colombia, Mexico, and the United States have described as a front for money laundering. Etka's chief executive, Issa Rezaie, has held positions at several IRGC-owned companies. Ekta was originally set up as a social security trust for Iranian military veterans.
-- The Wall Street Journal
July 4, 2020
An explosion and fire struck the Zargan power plant in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz. According to Iranian state media, the explosion was caused by a problem with a transformer.
-- The Times of Israel
July 3, 2020
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell received a letter from Iran's foreign minister triggering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) "dispute resolution mechanism." Iran cited frustration with the failure of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to meet their obligations under the JCPOA. The mechanism allows for about one month to resolve any dispute, with the ability to extend the period. In January, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom triggered the dispute resolution mechanism over Iran's refusal to maintain restrictions on uranium enrichment.
-- Associated Press via The Washington Post
July 2, 2020
The United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking to seize the contents of four oil tankers sailing from Iran and bound for Venezuela. In the filing, the United States alleges that an Iranian businessman affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arranged the fuel deliveries through a network of shell companies in an effort to evade U.S. sanctions. Mahmoud Madanipour used firms in the United Arab Emirates to handle the sales, falsified the fuel's origin, and arranged for the mid-sea ship-to-ship transfers in order to avoid detection. Madanipour also attempted to deliver Iranian oil to China and Malaysia, according to U.S. investigators.
-- The Wall Street Journal
June 25, 2020
Iranian authorities are investigating an explosion at or near the Parchin military base, a large complex east of Tehran that develops and produces missiles, rockets, and ammunition. Iranian Defense Ministry officials say the explosion came from a gas tank. Another military site, the Khojir missile base, is also located in the vicinity of the blast.
-- The Wall Street Journal
June 25, 2020
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned nine entities operating in or supporting Iran's metals sector. Revenue from this sector funds the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to Treasury. The sanctioned companies include a German-based subsidiary of Mobarakeh Steel Company, Iran's largest steel producer, as well as three Mobarakeh sales agents and trading companies based in the United Arab Emirates. The sanctions also target the Iranian aluminum producer South Aluminum Co., steel and iron producer Sirjan Jahan Steel Complex, and iron producer Iran Central Iron Ore Co. In a joint action, the U.S. State Department sanctioned Global Industrial and Engineering Supply Ltd., located in China and Hong Kong, for allegedly providing graphite to Iran.
-- The Wall Street Journal
June 24, 2020
According to information from a former Iranian official, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) established a facility near the city of Jarjam in 2011 to produce aluminum powder for Iran's missile program. Iran Alumina Company (IAC), a subsidiary of the state-owned enterprise Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development (IMIDRO), runs the facility. Aluminum powder is a key ingredient in solid fuel missile propellant. In a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader from an IRGC commander, the facility was described as key to "improving the country's self-sufficiency in production of solid fuel for missiles." IAC may have acquired equipment for the facility from China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co, Ltd (NFC), whose assistant president Li Xiaofeng allegedly coordinated the supply from German and Japanese firms. According to the former Iranian official, who is now living in France, the facility was still operating in 2018 when he left Iran. U.S. sanctions target Iran's aluminum sector, as well as the IRGC and third parties that do business with the Guards.
-- Reuters
June 23, 2020
The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant has been reconnected to Iran's electrical grid after maintenance, inspection, and fuel reloading, which included replacing a third of the reactor's fuel.
-- Tasnim News Agency

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