Iran Watch Newsletter: May 2022

May 26, 2022

Publication Type: 

  • Newsletters

This month's newsletter features an update to a timeline tracking Iran’s nuclear progress. New entries cover the appointment of a U.N.-sanctioned individual as head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), a monitoring dispute between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over a centrifuge plant, and Iran’s use of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, as well as proposals to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The newsletter also features profiles of entities in a ballistic missile procurement network, as well as news about IAEA monitoring in Iran, increasing competition between Iran and Russia for a share of China’s oil market, and the assassination of a senior IRGC Qods Force officer in Tehran. Documents from the Iran Watch library include official statements relating to security in the Persian Gulf, readouts of Iranian diplomatic activity, and Congressional reports and testimony regarding U.S. policy toward Iran.

Subscribe here to receive the newsletter in your inbox. 



A checkpoint outside the Fordow nuclear facility

Timeline | Iran Nuclear Milestones: 1967-2022

In August 2021, Mohammad Eslami, who is sanctioned by the United Nations for his previous positions in Iran’s military industries, took over as head of the AEOI. During his tenure, Iran has forged ahead with uranium enrichment and the deployment of advanced centrifuges while continuing to restrict the IAEA’s ability to monitor this work. The AEOI also closed a damaged centrifuge component manufacturing plant and moved its equipment to an underground facility in Natanz. Meanwhile, negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 to revive the JCPOA struggled to produce results. (Image via Tasnim.)

Read the new milestones here.



In March, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Iranian companies that have procured items from China related to ballistic missile propellant.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini
Arranged for the purchase and shipment of processing machines used in the production of solid missile propellant, from China-based suppliers; has met and traveled with senior officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Sina Composite Delijan Company
Used by Mohammad Ali Hosseini to procure ballistic missile propellant and related materials from China in support of Iran's missile program.

P.B. Sadr Co.
An Iran-based company affiliated with the Defense Industries Organization (DIO); has acted on behalf of Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI) to procure parts used to develop missile propellant from China.

Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI)
Part of Chemical Industries and Development of Material Group (CIDMG), which is a branch of DIO; produces ammunition, explosives, and solid propellants for rockets and missiles.



President Raisi holds a press conference about the killing of IRGC Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei

Iran Revolutionary Guard Colonel Is Shot Dead In Tehran | Associated Press

May 22, 2022: Two unidentified gunmen killed IRGC Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei outside his Tehran home on May 22. Khodaei's role within the IRGC is unclear, but state-affiliated media called him a "defender of the shrine," language that usually refers to Qods Force units that fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The IRGC said "global arrogance," a term used often in Iran to refer to the United States and Israel, was behind the killing. The IRGC separately announced that it had uncovered an Israeli spy cell operating in the country. (Image via Tasnim.)

More Russian Oil Going East Squeezes Iranian Crude Sales To China | Al Jazeera

May 19, 2022: Iranian oil exports to China fell by approximately 200,000 barrels per day from March to April, according to industry consultants, likely due to a higher volume of competing Russian oil exports to Asia. China, the main destination of Iranian oil exports, began buying heavily discounted Russian oil at triple its previous rate, after Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia. Russian crude oil is usually cheaper to refine than Iranian crude. Approximately 20 Iranian tankers carrying nearly 40 million barrels of oil have been left anchored near Singapore searching for buyers, according to shipping data and estimates by the analytics company Kpler.
IAEA Warns That Iran Not Forthcoming On Past Nuclear Activities | Reuters

May 10, 2022: IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told EU lawmakers that Iran has not been forthcoming about the presence of nuclear material at three undeclared sites. Iran and the IAEA agreed to work to resolve outstanding questions about the sites in March, and Tehran had agreed to provide answers to the Agency before the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in June. Grossi said that the situation "does not look very good" and that finalizing a nuclear deal would be difficult without satisfactory information about the sites.

Iran Moves Centrifuge-Parts Workshop Underground At Natanz, IAEA Says | Reuters
April 28, 2022: Iran has set up a new centrifuge component manufacturing plant in an underground part of its Natanz nuclear facility, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The plant's equipment was previously located at a site in Karaj that suffered an alleged sabotage attack last year; it is now present in the Natanz site's Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP). The FEP had previously only been used for uranium enrichment.



The European Union and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced a new partnership, an Iranian spy satellite photographed a U.S. naval base in Bahrain, and the 5th Fleet commander spoke about security developments in the region.

  • The Saudi Deputy Minister of Defense met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and affirmed the need to confront Iran’s destabilizing actions - May 22
  • A strategic partnership between the European Union and the GCC will cover economic and military ties, including nuclear diplomacy with Iran - May 18
  • Vice Admiral Brad Cooper briefed reporters on maritime security in the Middle East, and U.S. Navy forces interdicted a drug smuggling vessel with an Iranian crew – May 11, 17

Iranian diplomats traveled to Venezuela, hosted a Chinese delegation and spoke by phone with a U.N. envoy.

  • Senior Chinese defense officials visited Tehran in late April - May 16
  • An Iranian Foreign Ministry official spoke to the U.N. envoy for Yemen about extending a ceasefire - May 11
  • Iran’s Oil Minister traveled to Venezuela to meet with his counterpart and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro - May 6

Executive agencies reported to Congress about Iran, and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote to the Biden administration about JCPOA negotiations.

  • The State Department submitted a list of Iranians responsible for human rights abuses, including judicial and military officials - May 12
  • Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier testified on Iran as part of a Worldwide Threat Assessment briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee – May 10
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul argued that the Biden administration must conduct a thorough review before lifting any sanctions on Iranian entities – April 27