Iran’s stockpile of near-weapons-grade nuclear fuel has jumped significantly, according to a confidential report by the United Nations atomic agency that found Tehran has almost doubled its output of highly enriched uranium in recent months, putting it closer to being able to produce the fuel needed for a nuclear weapon. Iran had a stockpile of 17.7 kilograms (39 pounds) of 60% enriched uranium—its highest purity output so far—in early November, up from 10 kilograms in late August, meaning it is getting closer to having enough highly enriched nuclear fuel for a weapon.
Hackers linked to the Iranian government have been targeting a “broad range of victims” inside the United States, including by deploying ransomware, according to an advisory issued Wednesday by American, British and Australian officials. The advisory says that in recent months, Iran has exploited computer vulnerabilities exposed by hackers before they can be fixed and targeted entities in the transportation, health care and public health sectors. The attackers leveraged the initial hack for additional operations, such as data exfiltration, ransomware and extortion, according to the advisory. The group has used the same Microsoft Exchange vulnerability in Australia, officials say.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog on Wednesday issued reports detailing its conflicts with Iran, from rough treatment of its inspectors to re-installing cameras it deems "essential" for the revival of Tehran's nuclear deal. Indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 deal are due to resume on Nov. 29, after a quarterly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors at which diplomats say no action is likely to be taken against Iran for fear of harming the talks.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iran is behind a series of cyberattacks on former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Mark Wallace, according to an advocacy group, which says the hackers mimicked his email address in an attempt to infiltrate the accounts of former Trump administration officials. Wallace, who runs United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an advocacy group critical of the Iranian regime and its attempts to build a nuclear weapon, was targeted by Iran-backed hackers for his work holding the regime accountable, according to the group. UANI disclosed details of the attacks publicly after reporting the incident to the FBI.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The United States and its Arab allies in the Gulf accused Iran Wednesday of causing a nuclear crisis and destabilizing the Middle East with ballistic missiles and drones. The warning came in a joint statement issued after a meeting of the US and Gulf Cooperation Council working group on Iran, which was held in Saudi Arabia. "All participants urged the new Iranian administration to seize the current diplomatic opportunity" stemming from the resumption of talks in Vienna aimed at salvaging the Iranian nuclear accord, and "prevent conflict and crisis," the statement said.
U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi will visit Iran next week, an Iranian official said on Wednesday, as Tehran and world powers prepare to resume talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal. "Grossi will arrive in Tehran on Monday," Iranian state media quoted the spokesman of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Behrouz Kamalvandi, as saying. Grossi's trip takes place just before next week's meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation Board of Governors.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan raised with his Israeli counterpart the idea of an interim agreement with Iran to buy more time for nuclear negotiations, three Israeli and U.S. sources tell me. Why it matters: The idea is only preliminary, and the Biden administration continues to insist that the full 2015 nuclear deal be restored. But with nuclear talks set to resume in Vienna on Nov. 29, it provides a window into at least some of the thinking inside the administration. Behind the scenes: In recent weeks, Sullivan raised the idea of an interim deal while discussing next steps on the Iranian nuclear file with his counterpart Eyal Hulata.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
According to Iranian news agencies, 35 members of Iran’s parliament requested that the country’s Justice Minister “address violations by the former president," Hassan Rouhani. The request was put forward by Mohammad Nabavian, a conservative politician who opposed the nuclear negotiations and a former student of hardline cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi. The article did not detail which “violations” the lawmakers were seeking prosecution for, but numerous reports in the past have mentioned possible court cases against members of the former administration, including the president.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Israel has charged a member of Defence Minister Benny Gantz's housekeeping staff with espionage, saying on Thursday he offered to spy on him on behalf of "a person identified with Iran", the country's arch-enemy. In a statement, the Shin Bet security service said the suspect corresponded with the unnamed person over social media. It said he provided photographs taken in the house as proof he had access and proposing installing malware on Gantz's computer.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
A top delegation from the United Arab Emirates will visit Tehran soon as the Gulf state works to de-escalate tensions with Iran, senior Iranian and Gulf officials told Reuters on Wednesday. A Gulf official said a high-level delegation is expected to visit Teheran soon but they declined to confirm whether UAE's top national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan would lead the visit. Sheikh Tahnoon is a brother of the country’s de facto ruler Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and chairman of state investor ADQ.
U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking is visiting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to coordinate on regional security and concerns over Iran, and for talks on U.N.-led peace efforts for Yemen, the State Department said on Tuesday. It said Lenderking would also discuss the detention by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement, the de facto authority in the north, of some Yemeni staff at the U.S. embassy compound in the capital, Sanaa, which was closed in 2015. The State Department had earlier said the majority of the local employees had been released, without saying how many had been detained or when.
Airstrikes took out a secret hideout in Yemen housing experts belonging to the Iran Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, the Arab coalition said on Thursday. The capital, Sanaa, as well as locations in the governorates of Dhamar, Saada, and Al-Jawf were hit in a wide-ranging coalition operation to weaken the Iran-backed Houthi militia. Al-Dulaimi airbase and warehouses in Sanaa were struck by coalition forces, Al Arabiya TV said early on Thursday, citing sources. Hours earlier, the coalition blew up an explosive drone targeting Abha International Airport, in Saudi Arabia’s Asir province.
Iran on Wednesday released the name, photograph, phone number and home address of an Israeli cyber security expert who specializes in Iranian hacking efforts — its latest gambit in an ongoing cyberwar. The information was published by Fars News, an Iranian outlet operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The release of the information, or doxing, served as a tacit threat to both the cyber security specialist himself and to other Israelis who perform similar work.