Iran Summary – April 2022
About the Iran Summary: The Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Gemunder Center produces a monthly tracker providing timely information and graphics illustrating Iran’s aggressive and destabilizing activities.
April 2022 Summary: Negotiations over a new nuclear deal are currently “paused,” though Iran continues to decrease its already short breakout time to a bomb, and it moved centrifuges to a fortified underground facility. At the same time, its proxies attacked a base in Iraq hosting American troops and an energy facility in Iraqi Kurdistan as well as violating the ceasefire in Yemen.
Response to Ukraine Crisis: Iran escalated its support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, defending it in the international community, and used the conflict to expand its posture in Syria.
- On April 7, Iran voted against the UNGA resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
- Reports emerged on April 11 that Iran smuggled weapons to Russia via Iraq.
- On April 26, it was reported that Iranian forces had taken over some formerly Russian-controlled areas of Syria after the Russian troops there were redeployed to Ukraine.
Nuclear: On April 12, 47 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed an open letter organized by JINSA highlighting the prospective nuclear deal’s negative consequences for U.S. national security, amid growing opposition in the United States to Iran’s demand that, as part of a nuclear agreement, the Biden administration de-list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
- On April 4, the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that the country’s negotiators would not return to Vienna to resume nuclear negotiations until Washington settled outstanding issues, likely referring to Iran’s demand to lift the IRGC’s FTO designation.
- On April 6, Iran said it had (belatedly) handed over documents related to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inquiry into Tehran’s suspected undeclared efforts to build a nuclear weapon, though overall Iran continues to violate its safeguards agreement by stonewalling the IAEA’s investigation.
- An April 19 report by the State Department revealed that the Biden administration has “serious concerns” about “possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.”
- On April 9, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that Iran’s nuclear technology is “irreversible” and that research in the field will not be tied to others’ requests.
- On April 17, Iranian authorities confirmed the relocation of a production facility for advanced centrifuges from an aboveground facility at Karaj, which was damaged in a June 2021 covert attack, to its fortified underground Natanz nuclear complex.
- On April 24, the White House said that Iran’s nuclear breakout time to produce enough fissile material for a bomb had closed to “a few weeks or less,” blaming the previous administration, as negotiations between Tehran and world powers remained stalled.
- On April 26, amid calls from Congress for the Biden administration to provide transparency regarding the course of nuclear talks, Secretary of State Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he would commit to an open hearing on Iran before Congress’ Memorial Day recess.
Regional Aggression: With the nuclear talks indefinitely stalled, Iranian-backed militias have continued targeting U.S. bases and interests in Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen repeatedly violated the ongoing truce with the Saudi-led coalition, which is set to expire at the end of May.
- On April 6, least three Katyusha rockets struck near an oil refinery in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, which had been previously targeted by the IRGC on March 13.
- Four U.S. personnel suffered minor injuries after drone and rocket strikes on Iraq’s Al Asad Airbase carried out by Iran-backed militias on April 7.
- On April 16, despite the ongoing truce between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, the Armed Forces of Yemen reported that a Houthi drown had been downed over Marib.
- One civilian was killed and another was wounded in a Houthi projectile attack on April 21 south of the Yemeni city of Hodeidah.
- On April 29, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah threatened that Iran may “attack Israel directly” during a video address to mark Quds (Jerusalem) Day.
- Two rockets fell outside the Al Asad Airbase on April 30, with a previously unknown group called “International Resistance” claiming responsibility via a pro-Iran Telegram channel.
- Also on April 30, reports circulated that Israel’s Mossad detained and interrogated an Iranian inside of Iran, who admitted to plotting to assassinate a U.S. general, Israeli consular employee in Turkey, and French journalist.
Cyber: The known cases of Iranian cyberterrorism in April focused on targeted hacking of Israeli targets.
- A pro-Iranian Iraqi hacker group, al-Tahera, claimed on April 20 that it had targeted the website of the Israel Airports Authority with a cyberattack.
- On April 25, a group of hackers purportedly linked to Iran claimed that they had succeeded in hacking into the system used to transfer money between Israeli banks and the personal bank accounts of Israeli citizens. However, Israel’s National Cyber Directorate and the Bank of Israel said there was no proof of the attack.
- Pro-Iranian hackers on April 29 targeted livestreams on the websites of Israeli radio stations as Iran and its proxies marked Quds Day.
Domestic/Human Rights: Iran continues to rely on the brutal repression of its people in order to repress popular discontent due to its gross economic mismanagement and massive expenditures on destabilizing proxy activities. Suppression of free speech, arbitrary imprisonment, and torture have become the pillars of the Iranian regime’s international revolutionary designs at the expense of the Iranian people.
- Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution condemning human rights in Iran as “totally unacceptable and illegal.”
- On April 7, a coalition of 15 human rights organizations reported that Iran was torturing witnesses who testified at the “people’s tribunal” on the government’s deadly crackdown against the November 2019 nationwide protests, as well as their families.
- It was reported on April 14 that Mehdi Salehi, a 38-year-old prisoner on death row for his alleged role in protests in the city of Khomeini Shahr in December 2017, had died in prison, the most recent in a series of prisoner deaths in Iranian prisons due to denial of access to medical care.
- On April 25, a lawyer for imprisoned students in Iran announced that an Iranian revolutionary court had sentenced his clients to 16 years in prison for the charges of “sowing corruption on earth,” “assembly and collusion,” and “propaganda against the state,” charges routinely employed by the regime to suppress protests.
- Iranian authorities responded to an upsurge in labor protests on April 29 with arbitrary arrests and prosecution of labor rights activists.
Recent JINSA Publications on Iran:
- April 1: “Expect More Iranian Aggression with New Nuclear Deal,” Blaise Misztal and Ari Cicurel, JINSA NatSec Brief
- April 6: “State Department Misleads on Iranian Aggression,” Blaise Misztal and Ari Cicurel, JINSA NatSec Brief
- April 12: Open Letter from U.S. Military Leaders Opposing Iran Nuclear Deal, JINSA
- April 19: “It’s Time to End the Iran Nuclear Deal Once and for All,” Gen Charles “Chuck” Wald, USAF (ret.) and VADM John M. Bird, USN (ret.), The Hill
- April 20: “U.S. Terrorism Sanctions Must Remain on Iran’s IRGC,” Jonathan Ruhe, Andrew Ghalili, and Sam Millner, JINSA NatSec Brief
- April 20: “A New Nuclear Deal Won’t Stop Iranian Aggression,” Blaise Misztal and Ari Cicurel, Newsweek
JINSA’s Previous Iran Nuclear Talks Updates: