News Briefs

June 17, 2019
A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, announced that Iran had increased its production of enriched uranium to four times the previous level, threatening to bring the country's stockpile over the 300 kilogram limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) within ten days. Kamalvandi also said that Iran would surpass the 130 ton limit on heavy water set by the JCPOA within two and a half months, if Iran is unable to sell excess amounts overseas. Kamalvandi added that Iran could begin enriching uranium above 3.7 percent within one or two days, as mandated by the Supreme National Security Council, if the other JCPOA parties fail to meet their commitments under the agreement.
-- Islamic Republic News Agency
June 6, 2019
The General Court of the European Union dismissed Bank Saderat Iran's (BSI) appeal for £78.7 million in damages after the bank was placed on the EU sanctions list. The EU placed Bank Saderat Iran and its 28 international branches, including Bank Saderat PLC in London, on a list of entities tied to Iran's nuclear program in 2010, leading to the freezing of the bank's assets. The sanctions were removed in 2013 after the EU Council failed to disclose evidence supporting the allegation that the bank provided financial support to entities involved in transactions for Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The EU court determined that, contrary to the bank's appeal, the imposition of sanctions never constituted a "flagrant and inexcusable" violation of EU law.
-- The National
May 29, 2019
The re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran has spurred Chinese, Indian, and Russian efforts to develop systems for international trade less reliant on the American dollar. China has established deals with Pakistan, Turkey, and other countries to conduct trade in yuan rather than dollars. India, meanwhile, has developed an alternative, rupee-based system that has allowed Indian companies to conduct business with Iranian counterparts such as Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, which the U.S. Department of the Treasury considers a "specially designated global terrorist." Since January 2019, hundreds of Indian shipments have gone to U.S.-sanctioned Iranian businesses. American companies, including the Indian subsidiary of Colorcon Incorporated, have used the Indian system to sell products to Iranian state-owned enterprises.
-- The Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2019
A May 2019 report from the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a German intelligence agency, accused Iran of attempting to forge ties with technology companies "in highly technological countries like Germany" as part of a wider effort to develop weapons of mass destruction. The report noted that Iran tried to use a Malaysian front company to import an electron beam welding machine from a Bavarian company. The intelligence agency alleged that Iran could use the equipment for missile production. German authorities intercepted the attempted export and convicted the Bavarian company's director of violating German export controls.
-- Fox News
May 23, 2019
A French appeals court in Aix-en-Provence approved the extradition of Iranian engineer Jalal Rohollahnejad to the United States. The U.S. accuses Rohollahnejad of sending sensitive equipment from the United States to Iran on behalf of a company tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The French Prime Minister must still issue a decree for the extradition to proceed.
-- Reuters
May 22, 2019
A French appeals court will determine whether to extradite Iranian engineer Jalal Rohollahnejad to the United States. France arrested Rohollahnejad in an airport in Nice on February 2. He is suspected of working for Rayan Roshd Afszar, an Iranian company sanctioned by the U.S. and tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). According to the U.S. authorities, Rohollahnejad attempted to send microwave systems, anti-drone systems, and other industrial equipment that could be used in weapons to Iran via the United Arab Emirates
-- Radio Farda
May 21, 2019
In August 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Iranian-American dual citizen Aiden Davidson, also known as Hamed Aliabadi, with money laundering and violating economic sanctions on Iran. The Justice Department has not spoken publicly about the original charges or a superseding indictment filed in January 2019 against a related company. Davidson allegedly shipped nearly $1 million worth of surplus U.S.-origin military equipment via Turkey to Iran using his company Golden Gate International LLC. For some shipments, he listed Stare Logistik, a freight forwarder in Igdir, Turkey, as the recipient, although Babazadeh Trading Corporation in Iran may have been the true recipient. Through a search of Davidson's email, investigators found that he purchased some 2,700 military surplus items, some of which are on the U.S. Department of Commerce Control List, although it is not clear if the more sensitive items were successfully exported to Iran. According to the Justice Department, Davidson allegedly smuggled "electric motors, parts of machinery, pneumatic engines and motors, and hydraulic pumps" to Iran between 2013 and 2017. Davidson has pleaded not guilty and is subject to GPS monitoring while awaiting trial.
-- The Daily Beast
May 19, 2019
The Afghan Central Bank closed Arian Bank, a Kabul-based joint venture between Iran's Bank Melli and Bank Saderat, because of "money laundering" activities and failing to "follow the Afghanistan banking policies." Arian Bank opened on June 24, 2004 and received its banking license in December 2004.
-- Tolo News
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