News Briefs

June 1, 2018
According to a report by the intelligence agency for the southwestern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Iran continues to seek goods and know-how from the state for the development of weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems. The report indicates that Iran is seeking German software, vacuum and control engineering technologies, measurement devices, and electrical equipment with missile applications. The report concludes that Iran "has continued unchanged the pursuit of its ambitious program to acquire technology for its rocket and missile delivery program." 
-- Fox News
May 30, 2018
A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Akbar Velayati, proposed new measures to “revive” Iran’s nuclear capabilities following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear accord. Velayati suggested that Iran focus on uranium hexafluoride (UF6)-related facilities, and echoed the Supreme Leader’s call for Iran to bolster its uranium enrichment capacity to 190,000 SWUs. In addition, he proposed additional research and development on the IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges, the production of carbon fiber needed to make these new generation centrifuges, stable isotope production, and accelerated work on nuclear propulsion systems. 
-- Tasnim News Agency
May 24, 2018
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated nine entities for their roles in procuring export-controlled, U.S.-origin goods for sanctioned Iranian airlines, including Mahan Air, Caspian Air, Meraj Air, and Pouya Air. OFAC also designated Turkish citizen Gulnihal Yegane and Istanbul-based businesses, Trigron Lojistik, RA Havacilik, and 3G Lojistik, for enabling Mahan Air to procure aviation goods and services. Iran-based Blue Airways, a Mahan Air front company, and Turkey-based Otik Aviation were designated for providing material support to Mahan Air. Iranians Iraj Ronaghi and Touraj Zanganeh were designated for acting on behalf of designated Iranian airline Meraj Air. Dena Airways was additionally designated for its links to Ronaghi and Zanganeh, and for acting on behalf of Meraj Air. OFAC also identified 31 aircrafts in which these sanctioned Iranian airlines have an interest.
-- U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Release
May 23, 2018
Satellite imagery has reportedly revealed a secret, active facility in Iran dedicated to advanced rocket engines and rocket fuel. Analysis of this imagery by researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies suggests that the facility, named Shahrud, may be developing long range missiles or satellite launch vehicles. Ground scars at the site suggest that an engine with between 62 and 93 tons of thrust was tested in 2017. In addition, Shahrud appears to house three pits used for casting or curing rocket components, reportedly enabling the production of three rockets annually. A lack of storage tanks, fuel trucks, or fueling stations on the premises, researchers said, suggests that Shahrud is building engines powered by solid fuel. 
-- New York Times
May 22, 2018
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Iranian individuals who provided Yemen’s Huthis with ballistic missile-related technical support and weapons on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). Mahmud Bagheri Kazemabad and Mohammad Agha Ja’fari were designated for acting on behalf of the IRGC Aerospace Forces Al-Ghadir Missile Command (ASF AGMC). The two oversaw the transfer of missile components and the deployment of ballistic missile specialists across the region. Three others, Javad Bordbar Shir Amin, Mehdi Azarpisheh, and Sayyed Mohammad Ali Haddadnezhad Tehrani, were designated for acting on behalf of the IRGC, IRGC-QF, and IRGC Research and Self-Sufficiency Jehad Organization, respectively.
-- U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Release
May 17, 2018
The European Union has decided to activate a blocking statute in an effort to protect EU companies from the extraterritorial effects of U.S. sanctions against Iran. The blocking statute would threaten penalties against EU companies that cut business ties with Iran because of U.S. sanctions. The European Investment Bank will be allowed to facilitate investment in Iran by European companies, including by issuing loans that private banks are not willing to provide. The process for activating the blocking statute is expected to take up to two months and will require action by the European Parliament and the EU Council. 
-- Politico
May 16, 2018
Turkish citizen Mehmet Hakan Atilla was sentenced to 32 months in prison for conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by using the U.S. financial system to conduct transactions on behalf of the Iranian government. The transactions involved billions of dollars of restricted oil revenue held by a Turkish bank. Evidence presented at the trial indicated that Atilla used the bank, at which he was Deputy General Manager of International Banking, to provide the Iranian government, Iranian entities, and other specially designated nationals with access to the oil proceeds. Atilla shielded one of the bank’s customers, Reza Zarrab, allowing him to supply currency and gold to the aforementioned parties and to facilitate transactions on their behalf. 
-- U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
May 10, 2018
The U.S Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated nine Iranian entities for supporting a currency exchange network that transferred millions of U.S. dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). Among those designated were Mas’ud Nikbakht, Sa’id Najafpur, and Mohammad Hasan Khoda’i. The latter two were employees of the also designated IRGC-QF front company, Jahan Aras Kish, which was used to facilitate access to oil revenue in foreign bank accounts belonging to the Central Bank of Iran. Mohammadreza Khedmati Valadzaghard, Meghdad Amini, and Foad Salehi were designated for transferring money from Iran to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and converting it to U.S. Dollars using the also designated Rashed Exchange. A third company, Khedmati and Company Joint Partnership, was designated for its connection to Khedmati and Khoda’i. The U.S. action was taken jointly with the UAE.
-- U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Release
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