News Briefs

November 12, 2019
A Singapore court announced that a detained Chinese ship carrying Iranian liquid gas (LPG) will be sold at auction if the owner does not come forward within seven days. In July, Singapore seized and later released two oil tankers owned by the Chinese Kunlun Shipping Company that were carrying Iranian petroleum products. Originally called Gas Infinity and Gas Dragon, they have been renamed Echo Star and Nexo, respectively. Echo Star is under U.S. sanctions, but continued to transport Iranian LPG following its release. The tanker reappeared in mid-October with Iranian cargo in Singapore, where port authorities detained it once again. Nexo is currently idle in the Persian Gulf.
-- Radio Farda
November 12, 2019
Michigan-based software engineering company Altair Engineering Inc. admitted to possible U.S. sanctions and export control violations in a regulatory filing. In May, the company discovered that a third-party consultant in Poland may have provided software developed by its Greek subsidiary to a subcontractor in Iran. After an internal investigation, Altair Engineering disclosed the findings in July to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).
-- The Wall Street Journal
November 11, 2019
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has resumed uranium enrichment at Fordow and is accelerating enrichment in general, including at Natanz, where several types of advanced centrifuges have been installed. The IAEA's quarterly report also noted that Iran has stockpiled 372.3 kg of enriched uranium, surpassing the 202.8 kg limit outlined in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
-- Reuters
November 6, 2019
An FBI counterintelligence unit arrested an Iranian national in Michigan for allegedly stealing technical secrets from his employer and sending them to his brother in Iran, who has connections to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Amin Hasanzadeh, 42, was born in Iran and holds lawful permanent resident status in the United States. From January 2015 to June 2016, he was a technical engineer at an unnamed company in the Detroit area which serves the defense, aerospace, and auto industries. Hasanzadeh allegedly stole confidential documents and technical data, including information on a secret project involving an aerospace industry supercomputer. He is charged with interstate transportation of stolen property and fraud for lying about his military service in Iran.
-- The Detroit News
November 5, 2019
The Central Bank of Iran will require all Iranian banks to have an anti-money laundering unit. The move increases Iran's compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has set a February deadline for Iran to meet certain requirements before it will be blacklisted. The new regulations came at the directive of President Hassan Rouhani and will circumvent hardliners who have blocked several bills passed by the Iranian Parliament in response to FATF requirements.
-- Radio Farda
November 5, 2019
Iran will restart centrifuges at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, further reducing its commitments to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran's latest step away from the JCPOA involves injecting uranium gas into the 1,044 centrifuges at Fordow, which are restricted to non-nuclear uses under the terms of the agreement. President Hassan Rouhani added that the move can be easily reversed if the European signatories provide economic relief to mitigate the effects of U.S. sanctions. Iran also announced that it had doubled the number of advanced centrifuges at Natanz and is producing enriched uranium more quickly.
-- The New York Times
October 30, 2019
The United States will renew waivers allowing Russian, Chinese, and European companies to continue non-proliferation work at Iranian nuclear facilities, including the Arak heavy water research reactor and the Fordow fuel enrichment plant. The waivers cover sanctions that prohibit non-U.S. entities from working with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
-- Reuters
October 30, 2019
The United States and six Gulf countries imposed joint sanctions on entities connected with Iran's illicit financing of paramilitary groups in the Middle East. The sanctions are the largest ever undertaken by the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a coalition of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. The action primarily targets a multibillion-dollar network of Iranian companies, banks, and funds supporting the Basij Resistance Force, which has ties to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). All of the entities were previously blacklisted by the United States, but the new sanctions will require TFTC members to close the targets' local offices, including Iran's Mellat Bank. The TFTC also sanctioned four individuals linked to Hezbollah.
-- The Wall Street Journal
October 30, 2019
Iranians in Malaysia are facing "mass closures" of their bank accounts. In recent months, Malaysian banks, including CIMB and RHB, have ended services to many of the estimated 10,000 Iranians living in Malaysia. The banks did not give an official reason for the closures, but bank officials told some affected individuals that the move was prompted by increased scrutiny related to U.S. sanctions.
-- Reuters
October 29, 2019
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) picked Argentine diplomat Rafael Grossi to become its next director general. Grossi, 58, was selected in the third round of voting against IAEA acting director general Cornel Feruta. He previously served as the chief of cabinet to former IAEA head Yukiya Amano and as a senior official at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) before becoming Argentina's ambassador to U.N. institutions in Vienna. Grossi also recently led an international review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Backed by the United States, Grossi pledged to strictly monitor Iran's nuclear activities. He is expected to begin a four-year term by January 1, 2020.
-- The Wall Street Journal

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