Iran Watch Newsletter: November 2019

November 26, 2019

Publication Type: 

  • Newsletters

This month's newsletter features an essay on the history of Iran's efforts to develop chemical weapons and an update on the companies that have abandoned trade with Iran, one year after the United States re-imposed powerful sanctions on Iran's banking, energy, and shipping sectors. 

The newsletter highlights documents describing Iran's reduced compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a U.S. government report on Iran's military capability, and recent U.S. export enforcement and sanctions actions targeting Iran. In addition, the newsletter features profiles of Halkbank, a major state-owned Turkish bank that allegedly laundered $20 billion of Iranian oil and gas revenue in violation of U.S. sanctions, and profiles of several Turkish and Iranian entities involved in a conspiracy to ship U.S.-origin carbon fiber to Iran. The newsletter also includes news briefs on the cancellation of a U.S. nuclear sanctions waiver for Fordow, a U.S. case against a man accused of sharing technical data with Iran, and Iranian anti-money laundering efforts.

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Iran Watch Publications


A History of Iran's Chemical Weapon-Related Efforts

This week, at a conference for parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the United States reiterated a 2018 finding that Iran is in noncompliance with its CWC obligations. This essay describes the origin of Iran's chemical weapon (CW) efforts during the Iran-Iraq war, Iran's more recent efforts to acquire chemicals and technology in order to establish an indigenous CW production capability, allegations of CW-related transfers, and the status of Iran's adherence to the CWC. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Army.)

Read the essay here.

Why Companies Around the World are Reversing Course on Iran Business

One year ago, the United States re-imposed powerful sanctions on Iran's banking, energy, and shipping sectors – and on the governments and companies still engaging with those sectors. Faced with the threat of these sanctions, and despite EU efforts to counter their impact, companies around the world have been abandoning trade and investment with Iran that they had initiated following the nuclear agreement.

Read the updated policy brief here.

Iran Watch Library


Iran takes fourth step in reducing JCPOA commitments:

Additional library documents:

Entities of Proliferation Concern



Turkey's second-largest bank; allegedly involved in a conspiracy to launder $20 billion of Iranian oil and gas revenue from 2012 to 2016 in violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran; senior officials at the bank conspired with Turkish-Iranian national Reza Zarrab in a scheme that used gold and fictitious food sales to launder money on behalf of the Central Bank of Iran, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), and the National Iranian Gas Company.

Carbon Fiber Network

Companies and individuals operating in Iran, Republic of Georgia, and the United Arab Emirates conspired to export carbon fiber with military applications from the United States to Iran.

In the News


U.S. Cancels Civil Nuclear Cooperation Waiver for Iran

November 18, 2019: The United States announced that it will cancel a sanctions waiver allowing foreign companies to work on the civilian conversion of the Fordow site, where Iran recently resumed uranium enrichment. The Fordow waiver, which will end on December 15, is one of four sanctions exemptions supporting Iran's civilian nuclear program. The United States renewed waivers allowing work on the Bushehr nuclear power station, the Arak heavy water plant, and the Tehran Research Reactor at the end of October.

Michigan Engineer Funneled Tech Secrets to Iran, FBI Says

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.

Iran's Central Bank Acts on Money Laundering After Deadlock with Hardliners

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.