U.S. And Israel Assessing New Intelligence About Iran Nuclear Models

TOP STORIES 

U.S. And Israel Assessing New Intelligence About Iran Nuclear Models | Axios 

U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies are looking into new information about computer modeling by Iranian scientists that could be used for research and development of nuclear weapons, two U.S. officials plus one current and one former Israeli official told Axios. Why it matters: The purpose of the modeling is unclear. Some U.S. and Israeli officials said the intelligence is a worrying signal about Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, but other officials on both sides said it as a "blip" that doesn't represent a shift in Iran's policy and strategy towards weaponization. Iran has repeatedly denied wanting nuclear weapons. Senior U.S. and Israeli officials will meet at the White House on Thursday for the U.S.-Israel strategic consultative group (SCG) to discuss the state of the Iranian nuclear program and other issues.  

US State Department Designates Harakat Ansar Allah Al-Awfiya As Terror Group | The Jerusalem Post 

The United States announced on Monday night that it was designated Harakat Ansar Allah al-Awfiya (HAAA) as ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorists’ under Executive Order 13224. HAAA, which is a part of the Islamic Resistance of Iraq, is an Iran-aligned militia. Why was the group designated? HAAA has claimed responsibility for dozens of recent attacks against US military personnel in Iraq and Syria and has promised future attacks. The department also stressed the terror group has terrorized Iraqi civilians. On January 20, the group launched a ballistic missile and rocket attack on Al Asad Air Base, on January 28, HAAA killed three US servicemen in a drone attack in Jordan.  

Iran's Presidential Candidates Slammed For Silence On Morality Police | Iran Wire 

Iranian activists and commentators are criticizing presidential election candidates for failing to clearly state their position on the notorious Morality Police. The patrols, tasked with enforcing strict dress codes, have faced widespread public backlash. "The presidential candidates do not accept responsibility for the Morality Police to get votes," wrote reformist political activist Abbas Abdi. Abdi noted that around half the electorate already said they would not vote, and "they rightly think that defending this Morality Police will cause their vote to fall in the other half. This means accepting these people against the overwhelming majority of people's opposition to the Morality Police." Sociologist Mohammad Fazli echoed similar sentiments in his post on X, questioning why hardline candidates do not openly back the Morality Police if public support is truly on their side as claimed. "They know that they have an unreasonable claim," Fazli added.  

UANI IN THE NEWS 

Third Master Hit With US Sanctions Over ‘Houthi-Linked Oil Shipments’ | TradeWinds 

The US sanctioned a Ukrainian captain and his United Arab Emirates-operated tanker on Monday over his alleged role in oil cargoes to fund Houthi weapon purchases for attacks on commercial shipping. Vyacheslav Salyga, 52, was in charge of the 105,900-dwt Otaria (built 2000) when it loaded commodities on behalf of a shipping network run by an alleged Houthi financier, according to the US sanctions regulator. Salyga is the third master to be targeted this month by Washington linked to the alleged sale of sanctioned Iranian cargoes. Two Indians were blacklisted last week. […] Campaign group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) identified the Otaria, previously named Gala and Winsome, as being involved in the trade in Iranian oil since 2020. […] UANI believes it spotted the Winsome later that year via satellite imagery south of the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.  

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM 

Grossi Says Return To Diplomacy Is Key To Solve Iranian Nuclear Crisis | Asharq Al-Awsat 

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, affirmed on Monday the need to return to diplomacy to resolve the crisis over Iran's nuclear program. The Iran 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), currently holds no real significance because no one is following it, Grossi told the Russian newspaper Izvestia. The agreement exists only on paper and means nothing, he said. The IAEA chief said, “There have been attempts to revive it here in Vienna, but unfortunately, despite coming close to success, they fell through for reasons unknown to me.” Grossi mentioned that the US and Iran are blaming each other for its failure, adding that the Agency wasn’t directly involved in the diplomatic process. The UN agency’s chief said he always informs the Iranians of the necessity of ensuring minimum access to Iranian nuclear facilities to help return to the second version of the deal.  

Iran Starts Key Nuclear Centrifuges, Rebukes G7 Statement On Its Escalation | Newsmax 

Iran called upon the Group of Seven on Sunday to distance itself from "destructive policies of the past," the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said, referring to a G7 statement condemning Iran's recent nuclear program escalation. The G7 warned Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment program Friday and said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. "Any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral cooperation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals," Kanaani said, adding that some countries are "resorting to false claims to continue sanctions" against Iran. Last week, the U.N. nuclear watchdog's 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution calling on Iran to step up cooperation with the watchdog and reverse its recent barring of inspectors.  

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS 

Suppliers Of Weapons Parts For Yemen's Houthis Hit With US Sanctions | Al Monitor 

The United States on Monday sanctioned actors it said were helping Yemen’s Houthis generate revenue and acquire materials for weapons, in a move meant to pressure the militants into halting their attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and nearby waters. The sanctions come as the Iran-backed militants continue to disrupt global trade through drone, ballistic and cruise missile attacks that have pushed up global shipping costs and forced companies to halt or reroute traffic around Southern Africa. The Houthis have claimed since November to be acting in solidarity with the Gaza Strip, but many of the targeted ships have no link to Israel or the war. Retaliatory military strikes led by the United States and the United Kingdom on Houthi weapons stockpiles and sites have so far failed to deter the militants. The Houthis attacked two commercial vessels last week — one attack involved an uncrewed surface vessel and another involved missiles, according to US Central Command. The attack on the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned-and-operated merchant ship MV Tutor caused serious flooding and damage to the engine room, forcing its crew to evacuate. One of its crew members remains missing.  

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS 

Kurdish Prisoner In Iran On Hunger Strike For 9 Days | Iran Wire 

Haider Fatahi, a Kurdish citizen from the city of Marivan, has been on hunger strike for nine days since his arrest by security forces last week. According to the human rights news agency HRANA, Fatahi is being held at the detention center of the Ministry of Intelligence in Marivan. Fatahi, a married resident of Hazarkhani village, was arrested on June 8 by security forces without a court order. An informed source told HRANA that he has been accused of "collaborating with one of the Kurdish opposition parties." Fatahi's hunger strike comes amid heightened security pressures on citizens, especially in the western Kurdish regions of Iran, as the country prepares for an early presidential election on June 28.  

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS 

US Will Raise Pressure On Iran If It Does Not Cooperate With UN Watchdog | Asharq Al-Awsat 

The US State Department said Washington will continue to increase pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog. In return, an Iranian official said his country will not bow to pressure. “The report issued by the IAEA makes clear that Iran aims to continue expanding its nuclear program in ways that have no credible peaceful purpose,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said. “If Iran implements these plans, we will respond accordingly.” Shamkhani Responds Responding to the US position, Ali Shamkhani, the advisor of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote on the social platform X that Tehran remains committed to nuclear safeguards though it “won’t bow to pressure.” He added, “The US and some Western countries would dismantle Iran’s nuclear industry if they could.” Iran is threatening to take action following a vote earlier this month at the IAEA’s Board of Governors that censured it for failing to cooperate fully with the agency.  

MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS 

Houthis Take To Social Media In Bizarre Offensive Against US Navy | Fox News 

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower may be one of the oldest aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy, but it's still fighting — despite repeated false claims by Yemen's Houthi rebels. The Houthis and online accounts supporting them have repeatedly alleged they hit or even sank the carrier in the Red Sea as it leads the U.S. response to the rebels' ongoing attacks targeting both commercial vessels and warships in the crucial waterway. That's put its leader, Capt. Christopher "Chowdah" Hill, and his social media profile directly in what has become an increasingly bizarre internet front line as the campaign goes on. And while he shrugs off his posts, they represent the new level of information warfare the Navy is having to fight as it faces its most intense combat since World War II and tries to keep the morale of the nearly 5,000 personnel aboard the Eisenhower high and munitions ready as their deployment stretches on.  

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS 

Iranian Election: Google Trends & Social Media Poll Results | Iran International 

In the absence of independent election polling in Iran, multiple social media channels have launched their own ad-hoc polls, which reveal totally contradictory results depending on who the followers of each channel are. Amid apparent voter apathy and anti-government sentiment among Iranians, some insights can still be gleaned from a combination of Google Trends analysis and social media polls with shifting interest in candidates and different results depending on the political orientation of social media followers of different channels. Reformist groups prefer Masoud Pezeshkian, known as a 'moderate' politician, but exhibiting conservative tendencies during his election campaign. On the other hand, hardliners generally favor Saeed Jalili, a firebrand politician opposed to friendly ties with the West and a nuclear deal limiting Iran's atomic program. The head of Iran's cyberspace police, Vahid Majid, issued a warning on Sunday, emphasizing the prohibition on publishing unofficial polls about the upcoming presidential elections, as reported by Hamshahri Online in Tehran.  

Iran’s Hardliner Candidates Dismiss Impact Of Sanctions In Debate | Iran International 

In the first debate among Iran’s presidential candidates, hardliners denied the impact of nuclear-related sanctions, while two candidates said improving international ties is crucial for fixing the economy. The three-hour long debate on Monday among six hand-picked candidates was focused on “controlling inflation and growth of production”. Three of the five televised debates planned before the June 28 elections will focus on economy. The next debate is scheduled for June 20. In the debates and interviews, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, incumbent Mayor of Tehran Alireza Zakani, and hardliner Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi defended the “achievements” of Raisi’s administration. They faced opposition from pro-reform Masoud Pezeshkian, moderate-conservative Mostafa Pourmohammadi, and at times Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, who criticized the administration's performance in veiled terms.  

Three Candidates Dominate Iran’s Presidential Elections | Iran International 

A week after the start of the election campaign in Iran, almost no one speaks about three of the five hardliner candidates: Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani, and former Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi. Nearly all of the official and unofficial polls are about the election chances of the other three: Majles Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Member of Parliament Massoud Pezeshkian and former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Hadline lawmaker Amir Hossein Sabeti mentioned the results of a poll last week by an undisclosed government agency in a post on the social media platform X. This poll has shown that ultraconservative Jalili has a 23 percent chance to get elected as Iran's next President while Ghalibaf has a 21 percent and Pezeshkian has a 13 percent chance. Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Iranian journalist Maryam Shokrani on her Instagram page, among a statistical sample of 3,374 users, some 88 percent of Instagram users have said that they are not going to vote in the presidential election.  

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN 

Israel, Hezbollah On 'Brink' Of All-Out War, Officials Warn | Fox News 

Israeli officials warned that the country is on the "brink" of a full-scale war with Hezbollah if the terrorist group continues to increase its aggression in northern Israel. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) made the warning on Sunday, just a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet with Amos Hochstein, a top aide to President Biden. Biden's administration is pushing Israel to avoid a war in Lebanon, but IDF officials continue to highlight the outsized threat posed by Hezbollah compared to Hamas. "Hezbollah's increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation," an IDF spokesman warned Sunday. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant echoed the statement in his own talks with Hochstein on Monday. "We are committed to the diplomatic process, however Hezbollah’s aggression is bringing us closer to a critical point in the decision-making regarding our military activities in Lebanon," he told the Biden representative.  

US Envoy Heads To Tel Aviv And Beirut Amid Escalation On Israel-Lebanon Border | The National 

US envoy Amos Hochstein met Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday during a trip to Israel in the latest diplomatic push to prevent an escalation in fighting between Israel and the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah from turning into a full-blown war. He also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to discuss "the urgent need to restore security to the northern border and return residents to their homes," according to the President's office. He will also meet separately with former war cabinet member Benny Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid on Monday evening, before flying to Beirut for his fourth visit to Lebanon since the fighting began. Mr Hochstein's goal is to advance efforts to avoid further escalation along the Blue Line between the countries, according to a White House official.  

MISCELLANEOUS 

Hospital Fire Kills 9 In Northern Iran | AFP 

At least nine patients died Tuesday when a fire tore through a hospital in Iran's northern city of Rasht, state media said. The fire at Ghaem Hospital broke out at 1:30 am (2200 GMT on Monday), state broadcaster IRIB said, adding that it had been put out and investigators were working to determine what had caused it.  "Unfortunately, nine people lost their lives in this fire accident," said Mohammad Taghi Ashobi, president of the Gilan University of Medical Sciences in Rasht. He told state TV that "most of the patients who died... were hospitalised in the intensive care unit". According to the reports, the hospital has 250 beds and 142 of them were occupied at the time of the fire. In November 2023, a massive blaze ripped through a drug rehab centre in Langarud city, also in Gilan province, killing 32 people.