News Briefs

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
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