News Briefs

March 14, 2019
On March 14, Chinese electronics firm Huawei pleaded not guilty in a U.S. federal court to charges that it plotted to violate the Iran trade sanctions. The indictment, issued in January, charges the company and two affiliates with bank fraud, conspiracy to violate sanctions, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, among other counts. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou allegedly took part in the conspiracy and has lied in the past about Huawei’s connections to Iran. If Huawei is convicted, it could face fines, forfeiture, and other financial penalties.
-- Associated Press
March 13, 2019
An analysis of satellite imagery by Israeli intelligence firm ISI appears to show the construction of a missile factory in Safita, Syria. The images show a secured site with a fence, vehicles, three hangars, and a new water tower, as well as patterns of activity suggesting that it is a missile manufacturing plant under development. The hangars may be intended for the production and assembly of missiles, however the absence of protected structures suggests that engines and warheads are not currently being produced. The building pattern is similar to that of missile manufacturing plants, including one located in the Iranian city of Khojir. 
-- Ynet News
March 12, 2019
The United Nations is investigating whether two North Korean missile and arms firms, KOMID and Green Pine, are operating in Iran in violation of U.N. sanctions. The heads of both companies recently travelled to Iran, according to air passenger documents cited by the United Nations. The U.N. is concerned that North Korea continues to rely on diplomats stationed at the Iranian embassy to facilitate the work of these firms, both of which are blacklisted by the United Nations. Iran has so far failed to supply copies of passports for all North Korean diplomats stationed in Iran. 
-- NBC News
March 2, 2019
Iranian state-run Bank Sepah is taking over five Iranian banks linked to the military, including Ansar Bank, Ghavamin Bank, Hekmat Iranian Bank, Mehr Eqtesad, and the Kowsar financial credit institution. This consolidation is an apparent effort to reduce the military’s role in the economy and make it easier for Iran's Central Bank to enforce regulations on investment and financial transparency. 
-- Bloomberg
February 27, 2019
The Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) launched an anti-ship missile from a Ghadir-class submarine during ‘Velayet 97’ naval exercises in the Persian Gulf. According to Iranian officials, the missile was developed as part of the Jask-2 project and is based on a longer-range version of the Nasr missile. The Nasr is a solid propellant missile based on China's C-704, with a range of 38 km when launched from the surface. Video footage suggests that the missile may have been launched from beneath the surface. 
-- Jane's Defense Weekly
February 24, 2019
Danske Bank, which is under scrutiny for a $240 billion Russian money laundering scandal, may have laundered money for Ukrainian arms dealers, according to an investigation. A plane charted by New Zealand shell company SP Trading Ltd, which banked with the Danske branch in Estonia, was caught trying to transport 40 tonnes of weaponry from North Korea to Iran in December 2009. The cargo was seized at the Bangkok airport. The transaction was orchestrated by Iurii Lunov, a Ukrainian citizen, and Aleksandr Zykov, a Kazakh citizen. Both men were involved in an earlier transfer of cruise missiles from Ukraine to China and Iran, in which a firm named "SP Trade" was also used. U.N. investigators alerted Danske Bank in 2010 to the risk from providing banking services to shell companies and arms traders. 
-- bne Intellinews
February 21, 2019
Iran is refitting thousands of unguided rockets in Syria and Lebanon with Global Positioning System (GPS) components in order to increase their precision, according to Israeli military officers. These GPS kits are the size of a small suitcase and can be transported easily, either by ground via Iraq, or through the air to Syria or Lebanon. They can be installed on any unguided rocket within a few hours, rendering it capable of landing within a few meters of a target. In Lebanon, Iran is apparently focused on increasing the accuracy of Hezbollah's stockpile of 14,000 Zelzal-2 rockets. 
-- The Daily Beast
February 17, 2019
Iran launched a new submarine, called the Fateh, at a ceremony in the port city of Bandar Abbas. The 600-tonne, semi-heavy submarine is equipped with cruise missiles, torpedoes, and naval mines, and can operate more than 200 meters below sea level for up to 35 days. 
-- Agence France Presse (AFP) via France 24
February 7, 2019
Israel has discovered a new Iranian precision missile factory being constructed near the northwestern city of Safita, Syria, with the help of the Syrian government and the terror organization Hezbollah. In order to build this facility, Iran bypassed international sanctions through straw companies established by Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center. The companies, the Organization of Technological Industries (OTI) and the ANAS Group, ordered missile parts from Italy, China, and other eastern Asian countries.
-- Times of Israel
February 7, 2019
Satellite imagery shows evidence of a second Iranian satellite launch, including activity at the Imam Khomeini Space Center involving the two-stage Safir rocket and a truck with possible propellant tanks on February 5, and a scorched scar on the launch pad and runoff from the post-launch washdown visible on February 6. The Safir rocket appears to have made it briefly into flight but failed to place the Doosti satellite into orbit. The Doosti is a remote-sensing satellite developed by Sharif University of Technology.