Iran Is Not Directing Houthis Or Other Groups To Launch Attacks, Iran’s U.N. Envoy Says


Iran Is Not Directing Houthis Or Other Groups To Launch Attacks, Iran’s U.N. Envoy Says | NBC News 

Iran is not providing weapons to Houthi forces in Yemen and does not exert control over the militants or other armed groups in the region that are launching attacks on the U.S. and Israel, Iran’s U.N. ambassador told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview. Asked whether Iran is arming Houthi militants who have unleashed dozens of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in recent months, Amir Saeid Iravani said: “Not at all.” He added that the Houthis “have their own weapons” and that Iran does not issue instructions about how they should use them. Describing Iran’s relationship with armed groups that Tehran calls the “Axis of Resistance,” Iravani said his government has something akin to a “defense pact” with the groups that he compared to the NATO alliance. “We are not directing them. We are not commanding them. We have a common consultation with each other,” Iravani said.  

Despite U.S. Airstrikes, Iran Continues To Arm Its Proxies | NBC News 

Despite large-scale U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-backed militants across the Middle East, Iran is continuing to provide weapons and intelligence to its proxies, according to three U.S. officials, a Middle Eastern official and a congressional aide with knowledge of the matter. Iran’s flow of arms and intelligence to its surrogates across the Middle East, who recently conducted a drone strike in Jordan that killed three American service members and wounded dozens of others, persists even as the Biden administration contends that Tehran does not want a wider war in the region, the sources said. 

Drone That Killed U.S. Troops In Jordan Likely Went Undetected | Washington Post 

U.S. forces probably did not detect the approach of the Iranian-made drone that killed three American soldiers last week at a remote base in Jordan, and there was no air defense system on site capable of shooting it down, the military’s initial assessment of the attack has found. The early findings, which have not been previously reported, indicate that the drone may have been missed “due to its low flight path,” a U.S. defense official with direct knowledge of the assessment told The Washington Post. Additionally, this person said, the base, known as Tower 22, was not outfitted with weapons that can “kill” aerial threats like drones, and instead relied on electronic warfare systems designed to disable them or disrupt their path to a target.  


The U.S. Is Demanding Iran Rein In Its Proxy Groups. Is That Actually Possible? | UANI Senior Advisor Norman Roule Interview With NPR 

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Norman Roule, a veteran of the CIA and former mission manager for Iran for the Director of National Intelligence, about the so-called "Axis of Resistance." 

Seizures, Sanctions And Criminal Charges In Latest US Crackdown On Iranian Oil | Lloyd’s List 

... Claire Jungman, chief of staff of New York-based pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran, said the move constitutes a "significant milestone" but urged for stronger enforcement against the tankers enabling Iran's oil trade. "The Department of Justice's commitment to dismantling Iran's billion-dollar oil smuggling network marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to curb illicit activities that threaten global security and stability," she said.  

The Iran Insider: There Are Active Agents Here Today | UANI Policy Director Jason Brodsky Interview With SVT 

The couple who are suspected of having planned the murder of Swedish Jews are probably only a fraction of the Iranian regime's influence in Sweden. Arvin Khoshnood, a political scientist at Lund University with a focus on Iran, thinks so. For many years now, the regime has invested heavily in Sweden and has resources here. 


Iran Closer Than Ever To Weaponizing Uranium, Building Nuclear Bomb – Report | Jerusalem Post 

A new report from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) is sounding the alarm on Iran’s closeness to going nuclear, upgrading its threat level to “Extreme Danger,” the highest of its six ratings, for the first time since the group began following the Iranian nuclear program in the 1990s. Since 2022, the report says, Iran’s ‘breakout’ time has been zero— that is to say, Iran “has more than enough… highly enriched uranium (HEU) to directly fashion a nuclear explosive.” Uranium itself is not the only component required to fashion a nuclear weapon, though it is by far the hardest to come by. “If Iran wanted to further enrich its 60 percent enriched uranium up to 90 percent weapon-grade uranium (WGU)... it could do so quickly,” the report says.  


Iran's Food Prices Rising Ahead Of Ramadan And Nowruz | Iran International  

The rise in food prices in Iran have been accelerating in recent weeks with two big factors driving food price inflation higher, Ramadan and Nowruz, set to begin in March. This year Ramadan starts on March 10 and the two-week holidays of Nowruz, which is the start of the Iranian New Year on March 20, lead to a significant increase in food prices, where most people celebrate both with numerous parties and religious events with food as the main glue of the gatherings. Studies have proven that the Muslim fasting month has a significant effect on the inflation of food prices in other countries where the Ramadan is observed, such as Turkey. The anticipated increase in prices prompts the Islamic Republic to increase its hackneyed measures aimed at price control, including threats to shut down businesses or punitive measures for wholesale middlemen or retailers who do not comply with state-regulated rates. Other measures include supplying subsidized food items, distributing basic goods through state-owned chain stores, and banning exports.  

IDF Discovers Direct Links Between Iran And Hamas's Sinwar In Gaza | Jerusalem Post 

Israeli forces located documents proving direct cooperation and communication between Iran and Hamas's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, IDF Spokesperson R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari announced on Tuesday night. The documents, dating to 2020, detailed funds transferred from Iran to Hamas from 2014-2020, according to the IDF. The sum of the funds transferred is upwards of $150 million, Hagari said. Images of the documents subsequently published by the IDF suggest the figure is, in total, $154 million.  

US Cracks Down On Network Fuelling Iran’s Ballistic Missile And UAV Programmes | Airforce Technology 

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has revealed a series of sanctions against a network of suppliers facilitating Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The move aims to disrupt illicit procurement channels and hold accountable those involved in exporting weapons to terrorist proxy groups. In a decisive move aimed at curbing Iran’s military ambitions, the US Treasury has imposed sanctions on a prominent procurement network facilitating the development of Iran’s ballistic missile and UAV programmes. The targeted entities, spanning Iran and Hong Kong, have been identified as covert procurement fronts for individuals actively supporting Iran’s military organisations, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  


Iran Sent Undercover Operatives To Sweden To Murder Jews | Jewish News Syndicate 

A Jewish community leader has started speaking out about a plot to kill him that was foiled in 2021. Aron Verständig, chair of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish communities, told Radio Sweden about Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps sending two sleeper agents—couple Mahdi Ramezani and Fereshteh Sanaeifarid—who were activated after they had lived in the Scandinavian country for five years. Ramezani and Sanaeifard were arrested in 2021 with plans to kill two other Swedish Jews. Verständig has hesitated to speak about the threat to his life until now. “I was born a Jew I will remain a Jew for the rest of my life, and I can choose to sort of hide under a rock or I can choose to be the person who I am and that’s what I’ve chosen,” he said.  


Exclusive: UN Rights Commissioner Meets Officials In Iran, Despite Activists Warning Her Of Propaganda Risk | Voice Of America 

The U.N. human rights office has issued its first statement about a U.N. rights official’s controversial visit to Iran, telling VOA it is aware of rights groups’ concerns that Tehran will exploit the visit for propaganda but is confident the world body’s work will not be undermined. In the statement emailed to VOA on Monday, U.N. rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani confirmed that Nada Al-Nashif, deputy high commissioner for human rights, arrived in Iran on Friday and was due to depart later Monday. She said the visit entailed “meeting with relevant state interlocutors, including judicial officials, and U.N. partners.” Iranian state media had published a preview of Al-Nashif’s visit but did not report anything about her meetings while she was in the country. Rights activists inside and outside Iran had urged Al-Nashif to use her three-day visit to inspect the conditions of dissidents languishing in Iranian prisons and to meet with political prisoners, injured protesters and other Iranians deprived of basic rights, while ensuring such meetings are held in safe environments free of intimidation from authorities.  


Iran Plans Joint Naval Exercise With Russia, China As Red Sea Tensions Soar | Al-Monitor  

Iran's naval forces will hold joint exercises with their Russian and Chinese counterparts by the end of March 20, at a time of heightened regional tensions following the Israel-Hamas war. "The drills are meant for regional security and common interests," said Iran's naval commander, Rear Adm. Shahram Irani, at a naval academy in the northern city of Manjil on Monday, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. The Iranian commander did not specify the exact location and scope of the drills but noted that invites had been sent out to other countries to join. Iran, Russia and China held similar war games in the Gulf of Oman last March. The four-day exercises involved Iran's leading destroyer, Jamaran — a Moudge-class frigate — China's South Sea Fleet warship, the Nanning, and Russia's Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate.  

Iran Goes Public With Stark Warning Over Suspected Spy Ship As U.S. Refuses To Rule Out More Strikes | NBC News 

After a weekend of U.S. strikes against its proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, Iran has issued a strongly worded warning not to target a ship that U.S. officials and analysts suspect of providing real-time intelligence for attacks on other vessels in the Red Sea and serving as a forward operating base for its commandos.  In a slickly produced video published on the Iranian army’s Telegram channel Sunday, a narrator says in English that “those engaging in terrorist activities against the MV Behshad or similar vessels, jeopardize international maritime routes, security and assume global responsibility for potential future international risks.” Describing the Behshad as a “floating armory,” the narrator says it is involved in missions to “counteract piracy in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden,” although Iran is not publicly known to have taken part in any recent anti-piracy campaigns in the region. The video ends with footage of what appears to be ships in an American carrier group flashing red as though they are being targeted. A man then lowers the U.S. flag.  

Iran Accelerates Cyber Ops Against Israel From Chaotic Start | Microsoft Blogs 

Since Hamas attacked Israel in October 2023, Iranian government-aligned actors have launched a series of cyberattacks and influence operations (IO) intended to help the Hamas cause and weaken Israel and its political allies and business partners. Many of Iran’s immediate operations after October 7 were hasty and chaotic – indicating it had little or no coordination with Hamas – but it nevertheless has achieved growing success. Four findings stick out: A 42% increase in traffic, in the first week of the war, to news sites run by or affiliated to the Iranian state. Even three weeks later, this traffic was still 28% above pre-war levels. Despite early Iranian claims, many “attacks” in the early days of the war were either “leaking” old material, using pre-existing access to networks or were false. Iran’s activity quickly grew from nine Microsoft-tracked groups active in Israel during the first week of the war to 14, two weeks into the war. Cyber-enabled influence operations went from roughly one operation every other month in 2021 to 11 in October 2023 alone.  


Iranian Police Commander Killed In Hit-And-Run | Iran International  

The commander of the Shiraz Police Rescue Unit, Colonel Kourosh Bazyar, was killed in a hit-and-run incident in the early hours of Tuesday. According to a statement released by the Fars Province Police Information Center, “Bazyar was on patrol when he encountered a pickup truck suspected of carrying suspicious cargo. He ordered the driver to halt, but the driver, disregarding the command, attempted to flee the scene.” After a pursuit, law enforcement officers managed to disable the pickup truck by firing shots at its tires. However, during the subsequent inspection of the vehicle, a sedan Peugeot, which was accompanying the cargo, “deliberately collided with Colonel Bazyar at high speed, inflicting severe injuries.” Despite immediate medical attention and being rushed to the hospital, Bazyar succumbed to his injuries. While further details regarding the incident are yet to be disclosed, social media users have already begun circulating videos identifying the dead police commander as one of the key figures involved in suppressing the 2022 protests in Fars Province.  


Senate In The Dark On Impact Of US Strikes In Mideast | Iran International  

The US Senate Armed Services Committee has received no information from the Biden Administration regarding the impact of air strikes on Iran-linked targets, Sen. Tommy Tuberville told Iran International. “I am on the Armed Services Committee, and we don’t know what we hit. We got no return summary of the bombing, and if anyone was hurt, anyone was killed, or anything was destroyed, and we spent a lot of money,” the Senator told our reporter Arash Alaei on Tuesday. After a drone attack on January 28 on a US base in Jordan where three soldiers were killed, President Joe Biden pledged to retaliate, declaring that the attack was linked to Iran. However, the administration waited more than five full days before responding by air strikes on bases in Iraq and Syria, giving ample warning to Iranian IRGC and its proxies. Critics have insisted that relentless attacks by Iran-backed forces against US targets in the region since mid-October warrants a more direct response against Iranian targets to re-establish deterrence. Reportedly, more ammunition was dropped than the number of armed individuals killed at the bombed locations.  


Syria Says Israeli Airstrikes Over Homs Have Killed And Wounded Civilians | Washington Post 

Israeli airstrikes over the central city of Homs and nearby areas killed and wounded civilians, the Syrian military said Wednesday. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Syrian state news agency SANA quoted an unidentified military official as saying the strikes late Tuesday damaged both private and public property, without giving additional details. The Israeli jets reportedly struck the Syrian city and the countryside from over the Mediterranean Sea near the Lebanese coastal city of Tripoli. The strikes come as tensions across the Middle East flare with the Israeli-Hamas war and a drone attack on Jan. 28 that killed three U.S. troops and injured dozens more in northeastern Jordan, near the Syrian border.  


Chinese Carriers Expand Middle East Connectivity With Saudi, Iran Routes | Aviation Week Network 

Alongside China Eastern’s planned expansion to Saudi Arabia, China Southern is also increasing its footprint in the Middle East region. According to OAG data, the carrier intends commence flights between Beijing Daxing and Tehran, the Iranian capital. Operations will start on April 15 with two flights per week using A330-300 aircraft. China Southern already serves the Iran market, flying 2X-weekly to Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) from Urumqi. Iran’s Mahan Air is the only other airline to serve China-Iran nonstop, providing four routes from IKA to Beijing Capital, Guangzhou, Shanghai Pudong and Shenzhen.  


Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Target 2 Ships In Red Sea And Gulf Of Aden With Ballistic Missiles | Associated Press 

Two ships traveling in Middle East waters were targeted by Yemen Houthi rebel ballistic missile fire early Tuesday, authorities said, in the latest assaults in the Iranian-backed fighters’ campaign of targeting vessels over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The first attack happened in the southern part of the Red Sea, west of the Yemeni port of Hodeida, with the projectile causing “slight damage” to the Barbados-flagged, United Kingdom-owned cargo ship Morning Tide’s bridge windows, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said. A small vessel had been nearby the ship before the attack, it added. The Houthis carried out the attack using three anti-ship ballistic missiles, the United States military’s Central Command said early Wednesday. The Morning Tide’s owner, British firm Furadino Shipping, told The Associated Press no one was hurt in the attack and the ship was continuing onward to Singapore.  

Lenderking Accuses Iran Of Helping Houthis Identify ‘Lucrative Targets’ In Red Sea | The National

 The US special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, has accused Iran of helping the Houthi rebels to determine which ships are “more lucrative targets” in the Red Sea. Mr Lenderking was speaking before his trip to Oman for talks on the crisis that has triggered retaliatory US and British strikes on Yemen. “The sense we have is overwhelmingly that Iran is pushing on an open door here with the Houthis, aiding, abetting, sharing intelligence, helping them target ships, determining which are the more lucrative targets,” Mr Lenderking said at a virtual panel discussion hosted by the Middle East Institute think tank on Tuesday. “We see the very negative role that Iran plays in the region by fanning this conflict. We really hope that those who are messaging the Iranians, and we’ve talked to a number of countries who have relations with Iran – which we of course do not – to talk about the importance of Houthi behaviour undermining the Palestinian effort and generating worldwide animosity toward the Houthis,” Mr Lenderking added.