US Charges Three In Iran With Hacking Hundreds Of Companies, Computer Networks

TOP STORIES

US Charges Three In Iran With Hacking Hundreds Of Companies, Computer Networks | Bloomberg 

The Justice Department filed charges against Iranian nationals accused of conducting hacking attacks against hundreds of companies and organizations internationally, accusing them of encrypting computers associated with critical infrastructure, including electric utilities. The indictment charges Mansour Ahmadi, Ahmad Khatibi Aghda and Amir Hossein Nickaein Ravari with carrying out attacks since October 2020 that included a municipality in Union County, New Jersey, power companies in Mississippi and Indiana, an accounting firm based in Illinois and a domestic violence shelter in Pennsylvania.  

Two-Thirds Of IAEA Board Backs Western Statement Pressuring Iran | Reuters 

Two-thirds of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's 35-nation Board of Governors endorsed a non-binding statement by the United States, Britain, France and Germany on Wednesday pressing Iran to explain why uranium traces were found at three undeclared sites. At its last quarterly meeting in June the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors passed a resolution expressing "profound concern" that the traces remain unexplained due to insufficient cooperation by Iran, and calling on Tehran to engage with the watchdog "without delay".  

U.S. Considers Sanctions On Iran-Linked Entities After Salman Rushdie Attack | The Wall Street Journal 

The Biden administration is considering sanctions targeting entities linked to Iran for encouraging attacks on Salman Rushdie, people familiar with the matter say, after the acclaimed novelist was stabbed last month at a New York event. The sanctions under consideration include restricting the access of these entities to the global financial system, according to these people. Some of them have offered rewards to kill Mr. Rushdie, which the U.S. believes motivates such attacks, these people said. Mr. Rushdie, who spent years under police protection after Iranian leaders called for his execution over the 1988 book “The Satanic Verses,” was stabbed multiple times before a planned lecture in New York’s Chautauqua Institution on Aug. 12.

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM 

Iran Nuclear Talks In ‘Stalemate’: Borrell | AFP 

Negotiations to bring Iran and the US back into the nuclear deal curbing Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions are in “stalemate”, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told AFP on Wednesday. “I am afraid that with the political situation in the US, and so many directions without being conclusive, now we are going to stay in a kind of stalemate,” Borrell said. Borrell has coordinated efforts over the past year and a half to try to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was badly damaged when then-president Donald Trump had America withdraw from it in 2018.  

Iran Says IAEA Statement Won’t Produce Results | Al Monitor 

Iran criticized the UN nuclear watchdog's board for a statement being prepared by Western countries during their week-long meeting. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) questions regarding Iran’s nuclear program is one of the main outstanding issues preventing the revival of the Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Some observers anticipated that the IAEA would issue a resolution condemning Iran’s lack of cooperation on key questions regarding its nuclear activities.

UN Chief Urges Iran To Hold ‘Serious Dialogue’ On Nuclear Inspections | The Times Of Israel 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged Iran to hold a “serious dialogue” about investigations by UN nuclear inspectors, which have in recent weeks become a roadblock in negotiations toward a renewed nuclear deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, acts as the UN’s nuclear watchdog. Iran last week demanded the agency close its investigation into several undeclared nuclear sites, a nonstarter for Western powers at the talks.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS  

Iran-China Ties Could Strengthen If Sanctions Lift, Analyst Says | CNBC 

Iran will need sanctions to be lifted if it hopes to strengthen economic ties with China — and that can only come with a successful nuclear deal, one analyst told CNBC. Iran, which has business dealings with China, currently faces a slew of U.S. that’s devastated its economy. On Thursday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Uzbekistan. It comes as the Islamic Republic prepares to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security group made up of Russia, China, India, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries. Iran currently holds observer status in the SCO, but is due to become a full-fledged member at the upcoming summit in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan.  

Data Shows Iranian Oil Exports Rise For Third Month In August | Radio Free Europe

Oil-tanker tracking companies estimate Iran's oil exports increased for a third consecutive month in August. Data company Kepler, which provides tanker tracking services, told RFERL's Radio Farda on September 14 that Iran's unsold oil reserves at on-land facilities decreased by 6 million barrels to 50 million barrels, while Iran's oil reserves on water also decreased to 93 million barrels from 107 million barrels. At the same time, according to OPEC statistics, Iran's oil production has not increased in recent months. Reports indicate that in the past three months Iran has sold a significant amount of its stored oil reserves to China by offering higher discounts than Russia, thus greatly increasing export volumes.  

House Dems, GOP Working Together To Make Iran Sanctions Permanent | Fox News 

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers will introduce legislation Thursday that would solidify U.S. sanctions against Iran in order to apply pressure to the regime as it attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. The lawmakers say the legislation, titled the Solidify Iran Sanctions Act (SISA), would create a necessary deterrent by targeting the country's energy sector and making it more difficult to finance terrorist operations or develop ballistic missiles. "From brutal abuses committed against its own people, to its never-ending threats towards free and democratic societies, the Iranian regime has proven time and again that they are a rogue state with no interest in preserving regional or global peace,"  said Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., who is leading the bill in the House.  

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN 

Iran To Join Asian Security Body Founded By Russia, China | Reuters 

Iran has moved a step closer towards becoming a permanent member of a China and Russia-dominated Asian security body, as Tehran seeks to overcome economic isolation imposed by U.S. sanctions. Foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Thursday said Iran had signed a memorandum of obligations to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which is holding a summit this week in Uzbekistan. The body, formed in the 2001 as a talking shop for Russia, China and ex-Soviet states in Central Asia, expanded four years ago to include India and Pakistan, with a view to playing a bigger role as counterweight to Western influence in the region.  

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS     

Iran Strengthens Ties To Central Asia With Uzbekistan Deals | Al Monitor

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Uzbekistan on Wednesday with the goal of improving relations with the Central Asian country. Iran and Uzbekistan signed 17 agreements to boost cooperation in agriculture, energy, customs, technology, the environment, tourism, business, visas and science, according to a release from Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry also mentioned an agreement to work together on transportation via Iran’s Chabahar port in the Gulf of Oman.