News Briefs

April 2, 2019
Britain, France, and Germany have requested a full report on Iranian ballistic missile activity from the United Nations, following recent activities by Iran that are "inconsistent" with the terms of U.N. Security Council resolution 2231. Under the terms of this resolution, Iran must refrain from "any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons." In their letter, European officials cited as cause for concern Iran's Safir space launch vehicle test and the display of the Defzul surface-to-surface missile and a variant of the Khorramshahr ballistic missile. 
-- Agence-France Press (AFP)
March 25, 2019
France has banned flights in and out of the country by Iran’s Mahan Air, which is believed to be transporting military equipment and personnel to Syria and other conflict zones in the Middle East. The United States sanctioned Mahan Air in 2011 and has been pressuring countries in Europe to do the same. Mahan Air had four flights a week to Paris from Tehran. The ban takes effect April 1. 
-- Reuters
March 25, 2019
The U.S. Departments of State and Treasury sanctioned 31 entities linked to Iran’s Organization for Defense Innovation and Research (SPND), a military institute that allegedly maintains nuclear weapons expertise under the guise of civilian research. The sanctions are aimed at restricting opportunities for scientists connected with SPND to conduct research abroad and participate in international conferences. The names of the firms and individuals appear to have been drawn from a trove of documents seized by Israeli forces in January 2018. According to U.S. government officials, some of the newly-sanctioned entities are connected to Iranian universities, including Malek Ashtar University and Imam Hussein University, while others have been involved in the procurement of advanced technology from Russia and China. 
-- Science Magazine
March 20, 2019
The United States has granted Iraq a 90-day waiver that exempts the country from sanctions for buying Iranian gas. Iraq imports about 1.5 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day from Iran, via pipelines.
-- Reuters
March 18, 2019
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, announced that the construction of Bushehr-2 and Bushehr-3 nuclear power plants is underway. The cost of Bushehr-2 is estimated at $10 billion and it is expected to be operational by October 2024. Bushehr-3 is scheduled to be finished in April 2026. The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) is leading construction. 
-- Mehr News Agency
March 18, 2019
The Kenyan Supreme Court upheld the sentences of Ahmad Abolfathi and Seyyed Mansour Mousavi, two Iranian nationals convicted on terrorism charges. The men were arrested in June 2012, convicted in 2013 of planning terrorist attacks and possession of RDX explosives, and originally given life sentences. Their sentences were reduced to 15 years in 2016 and the Court of Appeal later acquitted the men and ordered them freed. This acquittal was reversed by the Supreme Court. Kenyan investigators believe that Abolfathi and Mousavi may have had links to Iran's Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  
-- Kenyans.Co.Ke
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