Iranian security guards have physically harassed several female United Nations atomic agency inspectors at a nuclear facility over the past few months, diplomats say, and the U.S. has demanded that Iran stop the behavior immediately. The previously unreported incidents at Iran’s main nuclear facility, Natanz, allegedly included inappropriate touching of female inspectors by male security guards and orders to remove some clothing, the diplomats said. One of the diplomats said there had been at least four separate incidents of harassment. A second diplomat said there had been five to seven.
Iran’s top international negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, has been replaced by a hard-line critic of the 2015 nuclear deal as world powers press Tehran and Washington to quickly revive the ailing accord after months of stalled talks. Ali Bagheri Kani will take over from Araghchi as deputy foreign minister for political affairs effective immediately, following a reshuffle announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement Tuesday. Araghchi will be retained as an adviser to Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.
German police arrested a German-Iranian man suspected of exporting equipment to be used in Iran's nuclear and missile programmes in breach of European Union sanctions, Germany's federal prosecutor said on Tuesday. Police searched 11 locations, including apartments and offices in the states of Hamburg, Schleswig Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia linked to the suspect, the prosecutor said. The suspect, identified only as Alexander J. under privacy rules, had shipped equipment worth 1.1 million euros to an Iranian whose company in Iran was blacklisted by the EU as a front to procure equipment for nuclear and rocket programmes.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that he is prepared to accept a scenario in which the US manages to revive the Iran nuclear deal, in a rare comment from a senior government official not rejecting the multilateral accord offhand. “The current US approach of putting the Iran nuclear program back in a box, I’d accept that,” Gantz told Foreign Policy in an interview published Tuesday, employing rhetoric used by the Biden administration to describe the goal of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi on Monday expressed “concern” towards not receiving answers or any promises regarding cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to detect traces of uranium at three Iranian sites. Despite being small in nature, the results of Grossi’s visit to Tehran were enough to push Western countries to scrap plans for a resolution criticizing Iran. In a press conference, Grossi reaffirmed that he will move forward in resolving problems with the new Iranian government under President Ebrahim Raisi, which he described as a “hardline” administration in its dealing with the nuclear deal and policy of cooperation with the IAEA.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
A raft of foreign policy decisions since the Biden administration took office — some ill advised, some badly timed, and in some cases both — prompt a question I thought would never have to be asked: Do US foreign policy advisers know who their friends in this region actually are? US allies and partners alike are puzzled. More dangerously, America’s enemies, who threaten regional stability, are empowered and emboldened. Take the recent withdrawal by the US of its most advanced missile defense system and Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia, a strategic partner.
A former University of Miami professor, his wife and his sister are facing federal charges related to purchasing genetic sequencing equipment from U.S. manufacturers and illegally shipping it to Iran, prosecutors said. Mohammad Faghihi, 52, his wife Farzeneh Modarresi, 53, and his sister Faezeh Faghihi, 50, made their initial appearances Tuesday in Miami federal court, according to court records. All three are charged with conspiring to commit an offense against the United States and conspiring to commit money laundering, as well as several other charges. The family operated a Florida company called Express Gene. According to a criminal complaint, Express Gene received numerous wire transfers from accounts in Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates totaling almost $3.5 million between October 2016 and November 2020.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
On August 29, Yemeni troops spotted small aircraft approaching the al-Anad airbase on the southwestern coast of Yemen. A curtain of automatic weapons fire rose up to meet the buzzing interlopers, operated by Houthi rebels hostile to the United Arab Emirates-backed South Transitional Council faction embroiled in Yemen’s civil war. But one of the drones managed to launch two missiles at a mess hall where soldiers were having breakfast, inflicting massive casualties.
An Arab Israeli millionaire who briefly ran for Knesset with former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon was ordered to be released to house arrest on Tuesday, as he awaits trial on accusations of spying on Israel for Iran. Yaqoub Abu al-Qia’an, a former politician and Bedouin construction magnate from the northern Negev, has been in jail since June, when he was arrested on suspicion of passing material to a Lebanese-Iraqi man who acted as a go-between for Iranian intelligence figures, according to the Shin Bet security service.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran has a goal in Lebanon and it involves sending tankers with fuel to Syria that will help make Lebanon appear less dependent on the West. Like many Iranian policies, such as enriching uranium, the actual policy is more complex than western media portray it. Iran likes to play foreign relations with a mix of threats, attacks and diplomatic and economic initiatives. It does this in a chess-like manner. Iran openly boasts of its complex multi-layered approach.
Iranian oil and its derivatives began to pour into Syria by land, through the Iraqi border in the east, and by sea, from the Mediterranean in the west, amid a strong demand by pro-Iranian militias for real estate in various regions, especially in Ghouta. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a crude oil tanker docked at the port of Baniyas in Tartus, coming from Iran. It added that Lebanon’s share of hydrocarbons had arrived days before in Syria through three other Iranian tankers. According to the war monitor, the fuel tankers had arrived on Sept. 6 and were destined for Lebanon.
IRAQ & IRAN
Pro-Iranian militias have increasingly used drones to target US forces. In the last week they allegedly flew a drone toward Erbil International Airport to target US forces in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Could those militias in Iraq now be working more closely with Palestinians? In an article at the pro-Iranian site Al-Mayadeen, hints of closer cooperation emerged this week. Why does this matter? In May, an Iranian drone was flown from Iraq or Syria into Israeli airspace and shot down.