This month’s newsletter features an analysis of the British Royal Navy’s seizure earlier this year of a weapons shipment headed for Yemen. Evidence suggests that the seized missile components came from Iran, but a deeper investigation also points to companies based in several other countries—as well as weaknesses in national export control systems—that enabled Iran to acquire the parts in the first place.
The newsletter also features profiles of entities involved in the production of engines for Iran’s cruise missiles and drones, as well as news about the ongoing negotiations to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Russia’s acquisition of Iranian drones, and Russia’s launch of an Iranian-owned satellite. Documents from the Iran Watch library include official statements about U.S. strikes against Iran-backed groups in Syria, Iran’s plot to assassinate former National Security Advisor John Bolton, and recent U.S. sanctions and sanctions enforcement efforts.
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U.K. Royal Marine Commandos secure one of the arms shipments. (Credit: U.K. Royal Navy)
Enforcement Action | British Navy’s Missile Seizure Implicates More Than Just Iran
In early 2022, a Royal Navy ship intercepted small boats carrying sophisticated missile components in international waters south of Iran. After seizing the weapons and returning them to the United Kingdom for analysis, the Royal Navy announced that the shipments included engines for the Iranian “351” land-attack cruise missile and several complete kits for Iranian “358” surface-to-air missiles. The evidence strongly suggests that Iran continues to supply weapons to the Houthis in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 2216. But a deeper investigation also points to companies based in several other countries—as well as weaknesses in national export control systems—that enabled Iran to acquire the components in the first place.
ENTITIES OF CONCERN
As Iran works to expand its domestic production of cruise missiles and drones, it has relied on several entities to manufacture the small, air-breathing engines that power them.
An engineer with thirty years’ experience in the aerospace field; employee of Farzanegan Propulsion Systems Design Bureau; chief designer of Iran’s first ramjet engine; former managing director of the Aero Engines Design and Manufacturing Company.
Farzanegan Propulsion Systems Design Bureau
An Iranian company that designs and manufactures air-breathing engines, including jet engines; produces the TJ-HP1 and TJ-HP4 turbojet engines; designed the country’s first ramjet engine, RJ-HP1, which was displayed to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in November 2019.
Aero Engines Design and Manufacturing Company
An Iranian company that specializes in building air-breathing engines for airplanes, helicopters, and drones; a subsidiary of the Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO), a state-owned enterprise; controls Turbine Engineering Manufacturing (TEM).
IN THE NEWS
A Russian Soyuz rocket launches the “Khayyam” satellite into orbit. (Credit: Tasnim News Agency)
Iran President: No Way Back to Nuclear Deal if Probe Goes On | Associated Press
August 29, 2022: In a speech, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that any path to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement must see the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) close its probe into uranium traces found at undeclared sites in the country. In recent weeks, Iran and the United States have been trading written responses on the details of the roadmap, with the safeguards issue being one of the key sticking points.
The First Shipment of Iranian Military Drones Arrives in Russia | New York Times
August 29, 2022: Russian transport aircraft delivered the first installment of Iranian-made combat drones to Russia in August. The shipment, part of a larger order totalling hundreds of drones, included Mohajer-6 as well as Shahed-series models. Although they are considered among Iran's most capable models, the drones have already faced technical and mechanical problems, according to U.S. officials. The terms of the deal were unclear, but an adviser to Iran's government said no money had yet been exchanged for the equipment.
August 9, 2022: A Russian rocket placed a Russian-built but Iranian-owned remote-sensing satellite called Khayyam into low-earth orbit. The Iranian Space Agency said the satellite, which has a higher resolution than Iranian-made satellites, will be used for civilian purposes such as environmental monitoring. It also said the satellite will be fully under Iranian control “from day one” and that no other country will have access to the information it gathers, rebutting earlier reporting that Russia may first use it for surveillance in Ukraine.
FROM THE LIBRARY
The United States carried out military strikes against Iran-backed targets in Syria on three consecutive days in August following rocket and drone attacks on a U.S. base.
- Central Command announced that U.S. military forces had carried out precision strikes in Deir ez-Zor targeting facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - August 23.
- The White House justified the strikes by pointing to two attacks by the Iran-backed groups a week earlier - August 23.
- The next day, the Iran-backed fighters launched rockets at U.S. forces once again, and U.S. forces responded by destroying the vehicles and equipment used to launch the rockets - August 24.
- On the third day, U.S. forces struck militants with attack helicopters, gunships, and artillery - August 25.
The U.S. Department of Justice charged a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with plotting to kill former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
- The criminal complaint alleged that Shahram Poursafi, working on behalf of the IRGC Qods Force, attempted to pay individuals in the United States $300,000 to carry out the murder - August 10.
- The affidavit describes in detail how Poursafi attempted, without personally traveling to the United States, to carry out the scheme - August 5.
Several U.S. government agencies announced new sanctions or took action to enforce existing sanctions and export control laws related to Iran.
- The Departments of State and Treasury sanctioned a network of companies that had facilitated the sale of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products from Iran to East Asia - August 1.
- The Department of Justice requested that Argentina seize a Boeing 747 cargo plane that an Iranian company (Mahan Air) had sold to a Venezuelan airline (Emtrasur). The Justice Department said the sale violated U.S. export control laws - August 2.
- The Department of Commerce issued a charging letter against Far East Cable, alleging that the Chinese company signed contracts to deliver U.S.-origin equipment to Iran in violation of export controls - August 8.