News Briefs

May 3, 2018
Satellite images taken in late April by Israel's ImageSat International depict “unusual activity” at Iran’s Fordow uranium enrichment plant. The underground plant appeared to be vacant over the past two years, according to satellite imagery. Recent images reveal that the facility's entry gate was left open and showed vehicles parked at the facility. The images also show construction progress at buildings outside the facility, which are believed to be meant for production and research and development work.
-- Ynetnews
April 28, 2018
Iran’s ambassador to Germany, Ali Majedi, announced that three Iranian banks, Middle East Bank, Saman Bank, and Sina Bank, are planning to establish branches in Germany to facilitate increased trade with Europe. Middle East Bank and Saman Bank will open branches in Hamburg and Frankfurt, respectively. Sina Bank has not decided on a location. The announcement was made at the Sixth Iran-Europe Banking and Business Forum, held in Tehran. 
-- Iran Daily
April 18, 2018
Iran’s Armed Forces displayed several missile systems, including the S-200 and S-300, during ceremonies to mark National Army Day. Also displayed during the ceremonies were the Mersad, Nasr, Talash, and Skyguard missile systems, the Kamin portable missile system, as well as military boats and submarines. 
-- Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)
April 11, 2018
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis launched ballistic missiles at the Saudi Defense Ministry in Riyadh and targeted two Qasef-1 drones at Abha airport and at a Saudi Aramco oil facility in the southern city of Jizan. Saudi officials claim to have intercepted the missiles and destroyed the Qasef-1 drones, which appear to be of Iranian origin. Saudi coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki accused Iran of being behind the latest attacks. 
-- Associated Press via The Washington Post
April 11, 2018
The German company Krempel GmbH (Krempel Group) says that it halted business relations with two Iranian buyers, Reza Moghaddam Panah and Mahmood Hasan Darvish Commerce, but will continue to trade with Iran. In February, electronic press boards produced by Krempel were found in the remains of Iranian-made rockets used in Syria. The press boards (Presss pan PSP 3040) were sold to Iranian entities, used in rocket production, and subsequently used by Syrian government forces in a chemical attack that killed 21 people. 
-- Jerusalem Post
April 9, 2018
Iran marked its National Day of Nuclear Technology by showcasing 83 nuclear technology developments at a ceremony attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEIO) chief Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi highlighted Iran's advances in quantum technology. Rouhani ordered the transfer of the first yellowcake produced at the Ardakan factory in Yazd to the uranium conversion facility (UCF) in Isfahan. 
-- Tehran Times
April 3, 2018
A recent Bahraini government audit revealed that the now-closed Future Bank, a joint venture between Iran's Bank Melli and Bank Saderat and Bahrain's Ahli United Bank, altered financial records to mask illicit trade between Iran and foreign partners. Between 2004 and 2015, Future Bank concealed $4.7 billion in Iranian transactions using wire-stripping; another $2.7 billion in transactions were hidden using an alternative to the SWIFT system. Auditors also found hundreds of bank accounts tied to individuals convicted of money laundering and terrorist financing and loans provided to front companies operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 
-- The Washington Post
March 30, 2018
Ukrainian authorities deported two Iranian nationals who attempted to buy components for the X-31 (or KH-31) anti-ship missile in January 2018. One of the men, Abdi Biyan, was allegedly a military attache at the Iranian embassy in Kyiv. Police found missile parts as well as technical documents in the men’s vehicle. Ukraine’s intelligence service noted that the attempted purchase may violate the U.N prohibition on Iranian arms procurement. The X-31 is a Russian-designed weapon capable of supersonic speeds. 
-- The Daily Beast
March 25, 2018
Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, killing one Egyptian national and injuring two others. The Saudi military claims to have intercepted seven missiles, of which three were launched at Riyadh, two at Jazan, and one each at Najran and Khamis Mushait. According to a Houthi-run news report, among the missiles fired were Burkans, which resemble Iran's Qiam ballistic missile. 
-- The Washington Post
March 20, 2018
Iranian national Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad has been arrested on charges of money laundering, conspiring to defraud the United States, and conspiring to commit bank fraud. He illicitly transferred over $115 million from Venezuela to Iran through the U.S. financial system. Sadr used Stratus Group, an Iranian conglomerate he and his family controlled, and Iranian International Housing Corporation (IIHC), a Tehran-based company he set up, to facilitate the construction of housing units in Venezuela. Sadr incorporated one entity in Switzerland (Clarity Trade and Finance) and one in Turkey (Stratus International Contracting J.S., a.k.a. Stratus Turkey, a.k.a. Straturk) to receive U.S. dollar payments; he then opened bank accounts for both entities in Switzerland to conduct international financial transactions for the benefit of Iranian parties. 
-- U.S. Department of Justice