Iran Summary – June 2023
Author: Anna Schaftel; JINSA Programs & Outreach Associate
June 2023 Summary: Top Iranian officials, including President Raisi, received the leaders of Palestinian terror groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Tehran. The Mossad foiled an Iranian terror plot against Israeli and Jewish targets in Cyprus. Secretary Blinken denied a nuclear deal with Iran was on the table after multiple reports claimed U.S. officials had resumed indirect talks with Tehran. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley was placed on leave amid an investigation into his handling of classified materials.
Regional Aggression: Senior Iranian officials received the leaders of Palestinian terror groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Tehran; later in the month, The Jerusalem Post reported that Palestinian sources were alleging Iran was escalating its support for terror activity in the West Bank. Israeli, Greek, Cypriot, and American intelligence services foiled an Iranian terror plot targeting Jews and Israelis in Cyprus.
- On June 5, the U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy intervened after three Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels approached a merchant vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.
- On June 6, Iran claimed it had developed a hypersonic missile, the first in its arsenal, allegedly capable of traveling 15 times the speed of sound with a range of up to 1,400 kilometers.
- On June 19, the leaders of Palestinian terror groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas met with top Iranian officials in Tehran, including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Ali Akbar Ahmadian, Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.
- On June 20, two members of Iran-backed Hamas shot and killed four Israeli civilians outside the Jewish settlement of Eli in the West Bank.
- On June 21, The Jerusalem Post reported that up to 10 Hezbollah fighters had infiltrated Israel at its northern border and set up an armed military position.
- On June 25, Israel formally acknowledged a foiled Iranian terrorist plot in Cyprus targeting Israeli and Jewish targets, including an Israeli businessman, a Chabad House, and hotels and entertainment venues frequented by Israelis.
- The Mossad confirmed on June 29 it had conducted an operation in Iran to apprehend the mastermind of the terror plot.
- On June 26, The Jerusalem Post reported that a Palestinian Authority official said, “Iran is already here, in the West Bank… The Iranians want their Palestinian agents to extend their control from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.” A separate Palestinian security source said, “Islamic Jihad is using Iranian money to buy weapons and loyalty in the West Bank.”
- On June 8, U.S. and Iranian officials denied reports that they were nearing an interim nuclear deal.
- On June 11, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “There is nothing wrong with the agreement (with the West), but the infrastructure of our nuclear industry should not be touched.”
- On June 15, CNN reported that U.S. officials had resumed indirect talks with Iran.
- On June 21, Iranian officials met with European Union mediator Enrique Mora in Qatar. Mora tweeted that they discussed “a range of difficult bilateral, regional and international issues, including the way forward on the JCPOA [nuclear agreement of 2015].”
- On June 28, speaking on the possibility of a renewed nuclear deal with Iran, Blinken said, “There is no agreement in the offing, even as we continue to be willing to explore diplomatic paths.”
- On June 29, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley was placed on leave, and his deputy assumed his duties, as he faced investigation into his handling of classified materials.
Domestic/Human Rights: The Islamic Republic carried out its second public execution in 2023.
- On June 17, Iran International reported that at least ten students at Tehran’s College of Arts were abducted by plainclothes agents and taken to an undisclosed location for staging a sit-in after the university instituted new, stricter mandatory hijab rules.
- On June 18, the Iranian regime publicly executed an unnamed man in Khuzestan province, marking the second public execution carried out by the regime in 2023.
- On June 28, The National News reported that Iran intend to prosecute 700 members of the exiled Mojahedin e-Khalq (MEK) opposition group.
- On June 14, Microsoft reported that Iran-aligned cyber groups have adopted a new method of cyberwarfare they term “cyber-enabled influence operations (IO),” which “combine offensive computer network operations with messaging and amplification to shift perception, behaviors, or decisions.” The report specifically cites Iran using IO to bolster Palestinian resistance and undermine Arab-Israeli normalization efforts.
- On June 27, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced Israel had seized millions of dollars’ worth of digital currency intended for use by the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah and the IRGC’s expeditionary Quds Force.
- On June 27, the UAE’s cyber chief Muhamad al-Kuwaiti said that Israel helped the UAE fend off a major cyberattack by Iranian and Iran-backed Hezbollah hackers.
Recent JINSA Publications on Iran:
- June 21: “What’s In Biden’s New Nuclear “Not-a-Deal” with Iran?” Gabriel Noronha, Blaise Misztal, Jonathan Ruhe
- June 20: “Biden & Co. Keep Funding Palestinian Terror – in Defiance of Congress,” NY Post, Sander Gerber
- June 16: “Abbas Goes to China,” Blaise Misztal
- June 14: “Washington Unlocks Frozen Iranian Funds,” Gabriel Noronha
- June 13: “The Coming Cyrus Accords?” Providence Magazine, Shay Khatiri
- June 6: “Iran Nuclear Talks Update 6/6,” Shay Khatiri
- June 5: “Countering Iranian Maritime Aggression,” Jonathan Ruhe, Ari Cicurel