News Briefs

January 8, 2020
Iran retaliated for the U.S. killing of General Qassem Soleimani by attacking two Iraqi military bases that house U.S. troops. The strikes were carried out using short-range ballistic missiles likely of the Qiam model and a variant of the Fateh-110. Elevan missiles landed at the Al Asad base and one struck the base at Erbil. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, tents, taxiways and a helicopter were damaged. No American or Iraqi personnel were killed in the strike.
-- Wall Street Journal
January 2, 2020
The United States killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general and head of the Quds Force. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, it killed General Soleimani because he was actively planning to attack American diplomats and service members in the Middle East. The airstrike was conducted by an armed drone that struck Soleimani’s vehicle on an access road near the Baghdad International Airport. The attack also killed six others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
-- Associated Press
December 17, 2019
The United States has charged an Indonesian businessman and three companies based in Indonesia on eight counts related to violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. Sunarko Kuntjoro, 68, allegedly conspired with the Iranian's Mahan Air and exported U.S.-origin goods to the company from March 2011 to July 2018 without the required licenses. Mahan Air was added to the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list in 2011, and also appears on the Commerce Department’s Denied Persons List. The conspiracy allegedly involved transporting goods owned by Mahan Air through three companies, PT MS Aero Support (PTMS), PT Kandiyasa Energi Utama (PTKEU), and PT Antasena Kreasi (PTAK), for repair in the United States. The goods were then re-exported to Mahan Air in Iran and elsewhere. Penalties for these charges range from up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine to up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
-- U.S. Department of Justice
December 10, 2019
Iran is building underground tunnels for missiles and large-scale weapons at the Imam Ali military base in Eastern Syria, according to Western intelligence sources. The tunnel is assessed to be nearly 400 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 13 feet deep. It is believed to be in the final stages of construction. The assessment is based on analyses of open source satellite imagery conducted by intelligence officials.
-- Fox News
December 5, 2019
Russia's state-owned TVEL Company has suspended work at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, claiming that Iran's decision to resume uranium enrichment has made it impossible to continue producing radioactive isotopes for medical purposes at the facility. The announcement comes in the wake of the U.S. decision to cancel a sanctions waiver that had previously allowed foreign companies to conduct work at Fordow. 
-- Associated Press
December 4, 2019
U.S. intelligence and military officials say that Iran is secretly stockpiling short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq. Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militias, which control significant parts of Iraq's transportation infrastructure, are allegedly facilitating the missile shipments.
-- The New York Times
December 4, 2019
The U.S. Navy seized "advanced missile components" believed to be of Iranian origin after detaining a small vessel in the Arabian Sea. The missiles were allegedly bound for Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. While the United States has repeatedly intercepted Iranian arms shipments to the Houthis, U.S. officials noted that the missile parts in this case were unusually advanced.
-- Reuters
December 1, 2019
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden are joining the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a special purpose financial vehicle which is designed to facilitate European trade with Iran outside of U.S. sanctions authority. The six new members join France, Germany, and the United Kingdom as shareholders of INSTEX, which was established in January 2019 but has yet to process any transactions.
-- Radio Free Europe
November 20, 2019
Israel conducted air strikes in Syria targeting weapons warehouses outside Damascus and the Mezzeh air base which are controlled by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. The strikes came in response to an Iranian attack against Israel the day before, when four rockets were launched from Syrian territory toward the Golan Heights. The Israeli strikes killed at least 21 people and destroyed several Syrian air defense batteries that fired in retaliation.
-- The New York Times
November 18, 2019
The United States announced that it will cancel a sanctions waiver allowing foreign companies to work on the civilian conversion of the Fordow site, where Iran recently resumed uranium enrichment. The Fordow waiver, which will end on December 15, is one of four sanctions exemptions supporting Iran's civilian nuclear program. The United States renewed waivers allowing work on the Bushehr nuclear power station, the Arak heavy water plant, and the Tehran Research Reactor at the end of October.
-- Associated Press