Iranian state television has revealed the existence of a new one-way attack drone: a jet-powered version of the Shahed series, the drones which Russia has used to pound Ukraine. The current Shahed-136 is driven by a propeller, with a puttering piston engine earning it the nickname ‘flying moped.’ The new version will be far faster and more difficult to intercept. The drone appears in the trailer for a documentary called “Parchamdar” – meaning, roughly, 'flag-bearer' – out in October. It celebrates Iran’s long history of drone development and production.
The United States has imposed sanctions on entities in Iran, Hong Kong, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates that the U.S. Treasury Department says comprise a network for the procurement of parts for Iran's drone program. The network has facilitated shipments and financial transactions in support of a critical component used in Iran's Shahed drones, which Iran has been supplying to Russia for use against Ukraine, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said on September 27. The critical component is known as a servomotor and is used in Iran’s Shahed-series unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The OFAC said the sanctions took aim at the procurement of servomotors by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) aerospace organization.
Iran claimed on Wednesday it successfully launched an imaging satellite into space, which could further ratchet up tensions with Western nations that fear its space technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran's Communication Minister Isa Zarepour said the Noor-3 satellite had been put in an orbit 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the Earth's surface, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. It was not clear when exactly the launch took place. There was no immediate acknowledgment from Western officials of the launch or of the satellite being put into orbit. The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…This case is linked to the Iranian regime’s oil smuggling through the Suez Rajan oil tanker. The smuggling documents were revealed by the ‘United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).’ This incident highlighted the Iranian regime’s attempts to load crude oil from Khark Island in the Persian Gulf and smuggle it. After loading the regime’s crude oil, the Suez Rajan oil tanker initially sailed to Singapore, where it remained for several months before heading to the Gulf of Mexico. However, it was subsequently seized by the United States for violating sanctions, and its oil was offloaded in Texas.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran must take “de-escalatory” steps on its nuclear programme – including co-operating with the International Atomic Energy Agency – the US State Department has said. The steps are vital if Iran wants to make space for diplomacy with the US, spokesman Matt Miller said on Tuesday. The US and many of its western allies fear Iran's nuclear programme may be a cover for developing nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies. It is the second time in recent days that the US has criticised Iran for barring IAEA inspectors assigned to the country, hindering the UN nuclear watchdog's oversight of Tehran's atomic activities. “Iran must take de-escalatory steps if it wants to reduce tensions and create a space for diplomacy,” Mr Miller said.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Arrangements for banking operations of the freed up $6bn of Iranian funds resulting from a hostage deal with the United States, were finalized on Wednesday. The logistics were confirmed during a meeting between Mohammad Reza Farzin, the Governor of Iran's Central Bank, and Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammad Al Thani, the Governor of Qatar's Central Bank, according to the Iranian state news agency. On September 18, Farzin announced that 5.73 billion euros from Iran's frozen assets had been deposited into the accounts of six Iranian banks held in two Qatari banks, namely Al-Dukhan and Al-Ahli. Farzin further explained that Iranian banks had established accounts in the two Qatari banks, and all transactions were executed by Qatari bank representatives, as well as through SWIFT, in accordance with the agreed-upon terms.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Israel arrested five Palestinians in a plot allegedly hatched in Iran to target and spy on senior Israeli politicians, including Israel’s far-right national security minister, the country’s internal security agency said Wednesday. The Shin Bet security service alleged that an Iranian security official living in neighboring Jordan had recruited three Palestinian men in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another two Palestinian citizens of Israel to gather intelligence about several high-profile Israeli politicians. The targets included National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — a firebrand Israeli settler leader who oversees the country’s police force in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultranationalist government — as well as Yehuda Glick, an American-born far-right Israeli activist and former member of parliament.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The United States and Iran are denying reports that the two sides are engaged in secret negotiations following a prisoner exchange deal earlier this month that included the unlocking of billions of dollars of frozen Iranian funds. There are no direct or indirect talks scheduled, including any involving Brett McGurk, White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, a U.S. official told VOA on Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss national security matters. The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday dismissed a report by a U.K.-based media outlet that authorities in Tehran had granted its negotiators permission to enter direct talks with Washington to ease sanctions in return for Iran slowing down its uranium enrichment program. "This type of news sensationalism and media games, which is often used to create a political atmosphere, lacks credibility," the ministry said, as reported by Iranian state media.
An investigative report documenting an Iranian-backed influence operation in the United States has enraged lawmakers and others across the country. The report, published in two versions simultaneously by Iran International and Semafor on Tuesday, depicts a close yet lopsided relationship between the Islamic Republic and three associates of Robert Malley, Biden’s special envoy on Iran, who’s been suspended and is under investigation by the FBI for his handling of classified documents. Within hours of the report’s publication, several prominent members of the Congress had weighed in on the subject. Ted Cruz, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the revelations ‘indescribably troubling’ and asked for a “halt in secret Iran negotiations.”
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian prison authorities are not allowing the transfer to hospital of a Kurdish political prisoner who has suffered a litany of physical ailments during his lengthy incarceration. According to IranWire sources, Motaleb Ahmadian was scheduled to be hospitalized on September 27 to receive much-needed medical care, but the head of Tehran’s Evin prison, Hedayat Farzadi, halted the transfer of the detainee. As Ahmadian was preparing to be moved to the hospital, the prison authorities informed him that there were no vehicles available to transport him. Since his arrest in 2009, Ahmadian has suffered testicular and bladder infections, as well as a number of other health problems reportedly caused by torture. IranWire sources say that Ahmadian currently struggles to eat due to severe stomach ailments.
Mariam, who asked to be referred to by a pseudonym to protect her identity, arrived in Germany six months ago as a student. Back in her native Iran, the 39-year-old engineer had a fully independent life. "Emigrating wasn't an option for me for a long time," she told DW. "My whole life I worked hard and achieved a lot: a degree from a prestigious university, later a well-paid position at a construction company in Tehran," she said. "But in the end I felt it didn't matter how good I was and how hard I tried. I will never manage to get out of this swamp and feel free and happy."
Iranian security forces have arrested four female members of the Baha'i religious minority in the southern city of Shiraz and transferred them to an undisclosed location. According to information received by IranWire, Sahar Mohebpour and Roksana Vejdani were arrested at their workplaces on September 26, while Bahareh Qaderi and Setareh Ta'ami were apprehended at their residences. Some of their personal belongings, including religious books, photographs, laptops and mobile phones, were confiscated during searches at their homes. There was no immediate information regarding the charges the four women face. Baha’is have been persecuted in Iran for decades for their faith and are often accused of being spies or opposed to the Iranian government.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Senior Iranian and Russian military officials reviewed Iranian advanced conventional weapons, and may conclude a drone and missile sale agreement following the expiration of UN missile restrictions on October 18, Washington-based think tank Institute of Study of War (ISW) reported. On September 19, Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu made a trip to Tehran, where discussions were held regarding the enhancement of defense and military collaboration between Russia and Iran. During the visit, IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajji Zadeh gave Shoigu a tour of Iran’s drone, missile, and air defense arsenal at the IRGC Aerospace Force headquarters in Tehran.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran is planning to build a new oil refinery in Syria with a capacity of 140,000 barrels a day, based on a tripartite memorandum of understanding with the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad and Venezuela, an Iranian official has said. The three countries are under heavy US embargoes, affecting their ability to export oil to the world. Iran and Venezuela have gravely suffered economically in part due to these sanctions. "The studies that were conducted found that Syria and its neighbouring countries are in need of petroleum products, therefore a refinery with a capacity of 140,000 barrels was identified next to the two existing Syrian refineries of Homs and Bania," the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) Jalil Salari told Fars news agency.
AFGHANISTAN & IRAN
Iran is planning to grant political citizenship to Afghan residents within the country in a move set to divide the country. MP Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash said the primary aim of the move is to formalize the presence of millions of illegal Afghan nationals in Iran, though it is understood to be a means of bolstering regime support and a declining population, amid a mass exodus of Iranians fleeing the country. He admitted that “there is a lack of a comprehensive strategy to regulate and address the illegal entry of Afghans into Iran", where many come to work as economic migrants. "The government appears to be inclined towards facilitating their entry and long-term residence, disregarding the extensive social, security, political, economic, and cultural repercussions stemming from the presence of over 8 to 10 million Afghans in Iran,” he said this week.