Iran-Backed Militants Probably Behind Attacks Targeting U.S. Troops In Iraq And Syria, Pentagon Says

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Iran-Backed Militants Probably Behind Attacks Targeting U.S. Troops In Iraq And Syria, Pentagon Says | The Washington Post 

A spate of attacks this week on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria were probably conducted by Iran-backed militias, the Pentagon said Wednesday, stopping short of directly implicating Tehran. There is a “working level assumption” that incidents every day this week, including rocket attacks and incursions from explosives-laden drones, were coordinated by groups trained and supplied by Iran, said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. “The threat is growing,” he told reporters, adding that the drone attacks in particular have become more precise, though so far no Americans have been wounded this week. 

U.S. Sees "Snapback" Sanctions Threat As Tool To Deter Iran Enrichment | Axios 

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told Israeli officials during his recent visit to Jerusalem that the threat of “snapback” UN Security Council sanctions should be used as a means to deter Iran from enriching weapons-grade uranium, three Israeli officials with direct knowledge of the issue told me. Why it matters: Snapback was the most significant mechanism built into the 2015 deal to punish Iran if it violates the agreement. According to the deal, any party to the agreement can trigger the sanctions. The sanctions would be particularly devastating to Iran's economy because all UN members would be bound to comply. 

Iran Holds Mass Funeral For ’80s War Dead Amid Nuclear Talks | Associated Press 

 Thousands of mourners poured into the streets of Iranian cities on Thursday for the mass funeral of 250 victims of the Iran-Iraq war, a testament to the brutal conflict’s widespread scale and enduring legacy 35 years later. A funeral procession carrying the remains of soldiers recently recovered from former battlefields snaked through the capital, Tehran, while other victims were returned to another two dozen provinces. Although Iran and Iraq sporadically exchange war dead excavated from borderlands that witnessed major combat in the 1980s, Thursday marked the largest such ceremony in recent years. 

UANI IN THE NEWS 

Three Tankers With Unknown Class, Flag And Insurance Shipped 10% Of Iran-China Crude | Lloyd’s List

United Against Nuclear Iran vessel-tracking shows the VLCCs shipped 113,000 bpd of US-sanctioned crude to China without penalty. VLCCS PHOENIX, ETHAN AND VERA WERE TRACKED BY UANI OVER 2021 TRANSPORTING NEARLY 113,000 BARRELS PER DAY. THREE elderly tankers for which flag registry, class, insurer, and beneficial owner is unknown shipped nearly 10% of all US-sanctioned Iranian oil to China in 2021, based on vessel-tracking data from United Against Nuclear Iran. Very large crude carriers Phoenix (IMO: 9181194), Ethan (IMO: 9293741) and Vera (IMO: 9203277) were tracked by the New York-based non-governmental organisation over the year transporting nearly 113,000 barrels per day, UANI data compiled by Lloyd’s List show. 

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM 

German Minister Says Iran Has Squandered A Lot Of Trust | Reuters 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said Iran has squandered a lot of trust, warning there is not much time to revive a nuclear deal. Tehran is currently negotiating with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna. 

Fateful Mossad, IDF War Over Iran Nukes Continues – Analysis | The Jerusalem Post 

The fateful war of words between the Mossad and Israeli Military Intelligence continued this week, with ministers leaking their classified contrary views on the Iran nuclear negotiations to Walla between Tuesday and Wednesday. Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva now favors some kind of new version of the nuclear deal to slow Iranian progress and buy time for planning a possible IDF airstrike, while Mossad Director David Barnea is against any but a radically improved deal.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS  

GOP Slams Biden Decision To Ignore Mandate To Disclose How Iran Sanctions Relief Funds Terrorism | The Washington Free Beacon 

Congressional foreign policy leaders slammed the Biden administration's decision to not comply with a legal mandate to detail to Congress how sanctions relief for Iran will bolster the regime's ability to conduct terror attacks. Republicans in Congress, in comments to the Washington Free Beacon, accused President Joe Biden of obstructing the legislative branch's constitutional oversight role. They say the Biden administration does not want Congress to know how much money sanctions relief provides to Iran's terrorist allies as negotiations with Tehran over a revamped nuclear deal drag into another year. "President Biden thinks the rules don't apply to him. 

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS 

Iran Says It Seeks To Prosecute 127 People Abroad Over Soleimani Killing | The Times Of Israel 

Iran said Wednesday it intends to prosecute 127 people for alleged involvement or cooperation with the assassination of its Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani two years ago by the US administration of Donald Trump. According to Fars News, which is run by the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a judiciary spokesperson said the country sent 11 letters to nine countries, asking them to take measures against the alleged culprits. The spokesperson also said Iran and Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding related to the prosecutions. 

Is Iran Vs. US Shadow War In Iraq And Syria About To Explode? – Analysis | The Jerusalem Post 

Pro-Iranian groups used drones and rockets to target US forces and facilities in Iraq three times in the last three days. This coincided with the anniversary of the death of IRGC Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani, killed in a US airstrike in January 2020. However, the uptick in attacks seems to be more than just a symbolic anniversary desultory rocket fire scenario; it could be growing into something larger because the attacks have not extended to Syria and the US responded with counter-fire.

MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS 

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Explain Source Of Loud Noise Near Karaj | Reuters 

A loud noise heard in the outskirts of the town of Karaj, to the west of the Iranian capital Tehran, on Wednesday was caused by a rocket fired by the Revolutionary Guards during a training exercise, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported. Rumours of a missile explosion in the west of Tehran were earlier denied by a deputy to the governor of Tehran's province. Karaj hosts several sensitive locations, such as the TESA centrifuge-parts workshop that was hit by apparent sabotage last June. Centrifuges can be used to enrich uranium. 

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS 

Iranian Security Agencies File Lawsuit Over Zarif’s Leaked Recording | Asharq Al-Awsat 

Iranian media reported on Tuesday that security agencies in the cleric-led country were mobilizing a lawsuit over a controversial voice recording for Iran’s former top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, which was leaked last April. Zarif’s remarks in the recording sparked nationwide controversy as he criticized the activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the region for overriding his diplomacy efforts. The storm triggered by his comments kept him out of the presidential race, dealing a significant blow to reformists who had high hopes for the ex-foreign minister running and perhaps winning against conservative candidates. 

IRAQ & IRAN 

Iran, Iraq Draw Up Plans For Railway Connection From Basra To Shalamcheh | Al Monitor 

The transportation ministers of Iran and Iraq have signed a memorandum of understanding to build the Shalamcheh-Basra railway and Shatt al-Arab bridge. The agreement includes a roadmap and timetable for executing the project. According to the signed agreement that Al-Monitor received a copy of, the project will be implemented by the railway companies of both sides, and work will begin within two months. The Iranian side agreed to withdraw from a portion of land inside Iraqi territory within 20 days in order to allow Iraq to build a workshop for the project.