Israel Planned Bigger Attack On Iran, But Scaled It Back To Avoid War


Israel Planned Bigger Attack On Iran, But Scaled It Back To Avoid War | New York Times 

Israel abandoned plans for a much more extensive counterstrike on Iran after concerted diplomatic pressure from the United States and other foreign allies and because the brunt of an Iranian assault on Israel soil had been thwarted, according to three senior Israeli officials. Israeli leaders originally discussed bombarding several military targets across Iran last week, including near Tehran, the Iranian capital, in retaliation for the Iranian strike on April 13, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive discussions. Such a broad and damaging attack would have been far harder for Iran to overlook, increasing the chances of a forceful Iranian counterattack that could have brought the Middle East to the brink of a major regional conflict. In the end — after President Biden, along with the British and German foreign ministers, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent a wider war — Israel opted for a more limited strike on Friday that avoided significant damage, diminishing the likelihood of an escalation, at least for now.  

The Leaders Of Iran And Pakistan Vow To Boost Trade In A Meeting Seeking To Mend A Diplomatic Rift | Associated Press 

The leaders of Iran and Pakistan agreed to strengthen economic and security cooperation in a meeting on Monday that sought to smooth over a diplomatic rift. Ties were strained between the neighbors in January when each carried out strikes in the other’s territory, targeting militants accused of attacking security forces. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi met with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other officials on his three-day visit. Authorities deployed hundreds of additional police and paramilitary forces for security. Pakistan has witnessed a surge in militant violence in recent months, mostly blamed on Pakistani Taliban and insurgents targeting security forces in Pakistan and neighboring Iran. According to a statement, the two leaders discussed a range of bilateral issues and vowed to cooperate to fight terrorism. They reiterated their condemnations of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.  

Iran Says EU Sanctions For Israel Attack 'Regrettable' | AFP News 

Iran described as "regrettable" Tuesday a decision by the European Union to expand the bloc's sanctions against its weapons programmes in response to its unprecedented retaliatory attack on Israel. "It is regrettable to see the EU deciding quickly to apply more unlawful restrictions against Iran just because Iran exercised its right to self-defence in the face of Israel’s reckless aggression," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in a post on X. "The EU should not follow Washington's advice to satisfy the criminal Israeli regime." On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc had agreed in principle to expand its existing sanctions against Iran's drone programme to cover missiles and their potential transfer to Iran's Middle East allies or to Russia.  


EU Sanctions Iran | BBC Persia 

Is the next step to boycott the IRGC? Jason Brodsky, Policy Director of United Against Nuclear Iran. 

US Lawmakers Pass New Iran Sanctions Bill | Lloyd’s List 

…Iran’s oil exports have staged a comeback in recent years after the reimposition of sanctions sliced them from over 2m barrels per day in 2018 to a few hundred thousand when the measures were fully implemented in 2019. According to preliminary figures from tanker trackers at US lobby group United Against Nuclear Iran, exports averaged 1.5m bpd in the first quarter of 2024, making it Iran’s best first quarter in the post-sanctions era. China buys 80% of Iran's oil exports. The Middle Kingdom’s smaller and semi-independent “teapot” refineries account for about 20% of China’s total oil imports, according to UANI, but they also take in the bulk of Iran’s exports. Importing Iran’s oil through these smaller refineries helped Beijing obscure its role and protect its large, stateowned enterprises from US scrutiny, UANI said. The teapots are both harder to uncover and are less exposed to the US financial system.  

Biden DOE Collaborated With Scientist From Iranian University Sanctioned For Illicit Nuclear Work | Washington Free Beacon 

…"I’m not familiar with this grant," Granholm said under questioning, adding that U.S. taxpayer funds generally should not be making their way to sanctioned countries or entities. Granholm promised to follow up on the matter but has yet to do so, sources told the Washington Free Beacon. The DOE did not respond to a request for comment on how much the grant was for or how it was distributed. The issue was first brought to the DOE’s attention in late March, when United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), a watchdog group that tracks sanctioned entities, informed U.S. officials that a researcher in its National Renewable Energy Laboratory published a paper alongside Sharif University’s Ravanji. "The research was grant-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office," UANI wrote in the letter, according to a copy obtained by the Free Beacon.  

Malaysia Arrests Two Ships And 44 Seafarers For Alleged Illegal Anchoring | Tradewinds 

…Campaign group United Against Nuclear Iran identified the two vessels and posted a satellite image of the ships side-by-side. The group said the transfer involved an Iranian cargo after it tracked the Artemis III loading around 2m barrels of crude at Iran’s Kharg Island oil terminal in August. It said the Artemis III carried out an STS transfer of one-third of those barrels to an aframax tanker in the same area off Malaysia in October before authorities took action.  


Iran's Activities 'Raising Eyebrows,' IAEA's Grossi Tells DW | DW News 

Iran is "weeks rather than months" away from having enough enriched uranium to develop a nuclear bomb, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi told DW. "But that does not mean that Iran has or would have a nuclear weapon in that space of time," he added. He said while enrichment at near-military levels is a cause for alarm, one cannot draw the direct conclusion that Iran now has a nuclear weapon. "A functional nuclear warhead requires many other things independently from the production of the fissile material, in this case, the uranium, including perhaps being tested," Grossi said. He also said Iran's objectives are "a matter of speculation." The Iranian public line is that this material is needed for medical or civilian purposes.  

Iranian Lawmaker Hints At A Nuclear Test | Iran International 

Iranian lawmaker Javad Karimi Ghoddusi says there is only "a one-week gap from the issuance of the order to the first test" of a nuclear bomb, despite previous assertions of peaceful intentions. His Monday statement on X came amidst escalating tensions with Israel and just hours after the Iranian foreign ministry reiterated that nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's military doctrine. Ghoddusi, who is known for his hardline stance in domestic and foreign policy, also made provocative comments prior to Iran's missile and drone attack against Israel, warning that attempts to assassinate 'Resistance Front' personalities worldwide would be met with retaliation with Iranian missiles. During a press briefing in Tehran, ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani emphasized, "Nuclear weapons have no place in our nuclear doctrine."  


Israel Hails ‘Clear Message’ As EU Expands Sanctions Against Iran | Times Of Israel 

EU foreign ministers agreed in principle on Monday to expand sanctions on Iran following Tehran’s missile and drone attack on Israel, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. Israel hailed the step as a “clear message” to Tehran. The sanctions will be aimed at curtailing exports of EU-made components used in the production of UAVs, drones and ballistic missiles employed by Iran. The European Union already has multiple sanctions programs against Iran, for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights abuses and supplying drones to Russia. But several EU countries had called for widening the drone-related sanctions regime to cover missiles and transfers to proxy forces. “We have reached a political agreement in order to enlarge and expand the existing drone (sanctions) regime in order to cover missiles and their potential … transfer to Russia,” Borrell told reporters after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.  

Oil Market Sees Iran Sanctions Having Muted Impact On Exports | Bloomberg 

Legislation pushing Joe Biden to ratchet up sanctions on Iranian crude oil is on track to become law as soon as this week. But don’t expect the president to fully use his new powers any time soon. The measure was passed by the US House of Representatives over the weekend as a response to Iran’s attack on Israel earlier this month. On paper, at least, they promise to broaden the scope of restrictions on Iran’s exports of crude by extending coverage to foreign ports, vessels, and refineries that knowingly engage in the trade. But oil market analysts say Biden will be loathe to make any moves that could increase the price of crude or the gasoline that US motorists buy at the pump. The president is likely to take advantage of the waiver authority built into the sanctions and avoid stringent enforcement, according to policy experts.  


Iran Arrests Kurdish Editor-In-Chief, Iranian Cartoonist, Sues Several Newspapers | Committee To Protect Journalists 

Iranian authorities must immediately release Kurdish-Iranian journalist Rasoul Galehban and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday. Galehban, the publisher and the editor-in-chief of Urmiye24 Kurdish News, was arrested by the Iran’s Cyber Police Unit in the city of Urmia, in West Azerbaijan province, on April 8, according to news reports. According to CPJ research, the Urmiye24 website was suspended as soon as Galehban was arrested. According to news reports, Galehban was arrested after the office of Urmia’s Prosecutor General filed a lawsuit against him. CPJ was unable to determine where Galehban was being held or whether he had been formally charged. Iranian cartoonist Atena Faraghdani was arrested violently again on April 14, according to a post by her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, on X, formerly known as Twitter.  

Iran's Israel Strike Coincided With Crackdown On Dissent At Home, Activists Say | Reuters 

The same day Iran launched its first ever direct attack on Israel it embarked on a less-noticed confrontation at home, ordering police in several cities to take to the streets to arrest women accused of flouting its strict Islamic dress code. Iranian authorities insist that their so-called Nour (Light) campaign targets businesses and individuals who defy the hijab law, aiming to respond to demands from devout citizens who are angry about the growing number of unveiled women in public. But activists and some politicians say the campaign appears aimed not only at enforcing mandatory hijab-wearing, but also at discouraging any wider dissent at a vulnerable moment for the clerical rulers. Under Iran's sharia, or Islamic law, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes. Offenders face public rebuke, fines or arrest. 

Iranian Rapper's Death Sentence Changed To 5 Years In Prison | Radio Free Europe 

Iranian dissident rapper Saman Yasin, who was detained during nationwide protests in 2022, has been sentenced to five years in prison, according to a verdict obtained by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda. In sentencing Yasin, Branch 15 of Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Court said Yasin will serve the punishment at a prison in the city of Kerman, as dictated by a fatwa from the Islamic republic's leader that bars Yasin from associating with others. Yasin is from the northwestern Kurdish region of Iran, while Kerman is located near the southeastern part of the country. Legal sources noted that Yasin, who was involved in the "Women, Life, Freedom" protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for an alleged head scarf violation, was initially sentenced to death, but that sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court. Hossein Sartipi, Yasin’s lawyer, confirmed on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that the sentence had been changed, remarking, "Saman Yasin was saved from execution." Yasin has been in temporary detention for over 18 months. Sartipi said he plans to appeal the latest sentence.  


Satellite Photos Suggest Iran Air Defense Radar Struck In Isfahan During Apparent Israeli Attack | Associated Press 

Satellite photos taken Monday suggest an apparent Israeli retaliatory strike targeting Iran’s central city of Isfahan hit a radar system for a Russian-made air defense battery, contradicting repeated denials by officials in Tehran of any damage in the assault. The strike on an S-300 radar in what appears to have been a very limited strike by the Israelis would represent far more damage done than in the massive drone-and-missile attack Iran unleashed against Israel on April 13. That may be why Iranian officials up to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have been trying to dismiss discussing what the attack actually did on Iranian soil. Analysts believe both Iran and Israel, regional archrivals locked in a shadow war for years, now are trying to dial back tensions following a series of escalatory attacks between them as the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip still rages and inflames the wider region. But a strike on the most advanced air defense system Iran possesses and uses to protect its nuclear sites sends a message, experts say.  


Iranian Women Face Extortion And Abuse Amid Hijab Crackdown | Iran International 

As Iran's Islamic government tightens its grip on enforcing mandatory hijab, reports of extortion and abuse of Iranian women at the hands of hijab enforcement officers have surfaced. According to information obtained by Iran International, instances of Iranian police officers demanding money from women to avoid hijab-related arrests have come to light. The coercion further extends to confiscating valuables and personal belongings from citizens. Since the implementation of the new hijab enforcement plan, "Project Nour" on April 13, a wave of violent encounters targeting unveiled women has unfolded across various cities in Iran. Victims recount disturbing experiences of being accosted by Iran’s so-called “morality police", with some revealing instances of sexual harassment. In one account, a woman revealed that the police coerced her and several others into paying 100 million rials ($153) under threat of arrest or seizure of their vehicles.  


First Iran Group In Nine Years Heads To Saudi Arabia For Umrah Pilgrimage | Reuters 

The first group of Iranian pilgrims in nine years made its way to Saudi Arabia on Monday for the umrah, or minor pilgrimage, Iran's official news agency reported, as a result of improving ties between the two Middle Eastern powers. Iranian media had said in December that Saudi Arabia had lifted restrictions on Iranians wanting to perform umrah but flights were delayed until now due to what Tehran called "technical problems". In March 2023, China mediated an agreement under which Iran and Saudi Arabia restored full diplomatic relations that were cut since 2016 over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric and the subsequent storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Before ties were restored, Iranians had only been able to perform the haj pilgrimage, a religious duty deemed compulsory for Muslims who aim to carry it out once in their lifetime. The haj must be performed at a certain time of the year, and which is subject to strict annual quota.