Iran Summary – November 2022
Anna Schaftel – JINSA Programs & Outreach Associate
November 2022 Summary: Nearly three months after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed by Iran’s morality police, protests continue across the country, despite the regime’s violent crackdown. Nuclear negotiations remain at an impasse, as U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Rob Malley, says the Biden Administration is “not spending our time focused on the deal.” The relationship between Tehran and Moscow continues to expand, as Iran provides both military personnel and weapons to be used in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, such as drones and potentially ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, Iran grows increasingly brazen with its attempts to target its enemies on foreign soil, as Georgian and British security services foiled separate Iranian assassination attempts in November.
Response to Ukraine Crisis and Ties to Russia: Iran and Russia continue to bolster their bilateral relations, as Iran provides both military personnel and weapons to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Reports indicate that Iranian military advisers were killed by Ukrainian forces while operating in Crimea.
- On November 1, CNN reported that Iran was preparing to provide Russia with 1,000 additional weapons, including more drones and, for the first time, ballistic missiles as well.
- On November 5, the Iranian regime acknowledged for the first time that it had supplied Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, it alleged the drones had been sent to Russia prior to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
- On November 7, Voice of America reported Iran and Russia were recruiting former members of Afghanistan’s special forces to fight for Russia in Ukraine and Iran in Yemen.
- On November 9, Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev visited Iran, meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to discuss ways to deepen the bilateral relationship between Tehran and Moscow, and the war in Ukraine.
- On November 24, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, reported that Iranian military advisers had been killed by Ukrainian forces in Crimea. He did not specify how many had been killed.
Domestic/Human Rights: Demonstrations continue across Iran nearly three months after protestors initially took to the streets in response to the police killing of Mahsa Amini. As the Iranian regime desperately tries to quash dissent through violence, intimidation, and mass imprisonment, Iranians continue to voice their discontent with their country’s brutal, theocratic leadership. As of November 29, at least 488 people have been killed in the regime’s crackdown, according to Iran Human Rights.
- On November 8, the Iranian Parliament voted in favor of the death penalty for protestors, issuing a letter calling for harsh punishments and chanting “death to seditionists” on the floor of parliament.
- On November 10, Iranian security forces arrested Elham Afkari, sister of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari who was executed by the regime in September 2020, accusing her of being an “agent” of U.K.-headquartered Persian broadcaster Iran International, but the media outlet denies it has any ties with Afkari.
- A Revolutionary Court in Tehran issued the first death sentence to a person arrested for participating in the ongoing protests in Iran on November 14. The defendant had set fire to a government facility.
- On November 16, Iranian security forces opened fire on people at a metro station in Tehran and beat women who were not wearing mandatory hijab.
- On November 16, Gunmen opened fire in a bazaar in the southwestern Iranian city of Izeh, killing at least five people. The motivation behind the attack remains unclear. In a separate attack on the same day, gunmen shot dead two members of Iran’s paramilitary Basij in Isfahan.
- On November 21, in a show of solidarity with the protestors in Iran, the Iranian soccer team remained silent during the singing of their national anthem at the World Cup in Qatar. In response, the IRGC allegedly threatened the families of Iran’s World Cup soccer team with “violence and torture.”
- On November 22, Iran’s judiciary claimed 40 foreign nationals had been detained for participating in the ongoing protests in Iran.
- On November 23, schoolchildren in Tehran were told to stay home for the second time in a week due to the high levels of air pollution.
- On November 24, Iran arrested prominent soccer player, Voria Ghafouri, for “insulting the national soccer team and propagandizing against the government.” Ghafouri was not chosen to go to the World Cup but has been an outspoken critic of the regime.
- As of November 29, at least 488 people have been killed in the “crackdown on protests,” including at least 60 children, according to Iran Human Rights.
Nuclear: The Biden Administration continues to emphasize a nuclear deal is not its priority amidst the Iranian regime’s ongoing domestic crackdown and efforts to aid Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Iran continues to bolster its nuclear program, reportedly turning to Russia for assistance as the two countries develop an increasingly close relationship.
- On November 4, CNN reported that Iran was seeking Russia’s help “to bolster its nuclear program,” allegedly asking for “help acquiring additional nuclear materials and with nuclear fuel fabrication.”
- On November 9, an Iranian delegation met with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. IAEA’s Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that Iranians “didn’t bring anything new” but that the IAEA plans to “meet again at a technical level in Iran in a couple of weeks.”
- On November 22, the IAEA reported that Iran had begun enriching uranium to 60% purity at its Fordow nuclear plan.
- On November 30, when asked whether negotiations for a renewed nuclear deal with Iran were still viable, US Special Representative for Iran, Rob Malley, said “it’s a technical question more than a political one. It’s when our nuclear experts will tell us that the nonproliferation benefits of the deal don’t warrant the sanctions relief that we would be offering.”
Regional Aggression: The Iranian regime continues to target its enemies on foreign soil, plotting to assassinate two journalists in the United Kingdom and an Israeli businessman in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched renewed airstrikes in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, firing drones, missiles, and rockets at various sites over the course of the month. The regime and its regional proxies continue to sew discord in the Middle East, attempting to smuggle weapons to Yemen and the Lebanese-Syrian border, targeting an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, and attacking the Al-Dhabba oil terminal in Yemen. According to JINSA’s Iran Projectile Tracker, Iran and its partner militias fired twenty-three projectiles at U.S. troops, partners, and interests in the Middle East during November, over doubling the year-low of eleven launched the previous month in October and returning the number of munitions to similar levels as seen in August and July.
- On November 7, Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, warned authorities in the U.K. of a “credible” plot to assassinate two British-Iranian journalists who work for Iran International.
- On November 8, the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman smuggling “a large quantity of explosive material” from Iran to Yemen.
- On November 14, Azerbaijan arrested five of its nationals on charges of spying for Iran, claiming they “had been gathering information about the military, including the procurement of Israeli and Turkish drones and the country’s energy infrastructure.”
- Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired drones and rockets at the headquarters of Iranian Kurdish parties in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq on November 14, killing at least two people and wounding ten others.
- On November 14, an Iranian Shahed-136 drone struck an Israeli-owned oil tanker off the coast of Oman, causing damage but no injuries.
- The Georgian State Security Service announced on November 15 it had foiled an Iranian plot to assassinate an Israeli businessman, Itzik Moshe, in Tbilisi. According to the Jerusalem Post, “One team of assassins from Pakistan have ties to al-Qaeda and arrived in Tbilisi to gather intelligence on the target. Another was arrested last week and found with weapons and ammunition, as well as other incriminating evidence.”
- On November 16, Ken McCallum, Director General of the UK’s MI5, claimed Iran’s intelligence services had made at least 10 attempts to “kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime,” since January 2022.
- On November 21, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacked the al-Dhabba oil terminal in Hadhramaut province, Yemen; firing a projectile from a drone that hit the terminal’s oil export platform.
- The IRGC confirmed it had attacked three areas in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq with missiles and drones on November 21.
- On November 22, the IRGC launched new missile and drone strikes targeting the Kurdish region of northern Iraq: according to the Kurdistan regional government, sites were hit in the city of Perdi and the Degala region.
- Fox News reported on November 22 that Hezbollah had “transported hundreds of missiles with a chemical payload to a warehouse near the Lebanese-Syrian border,” including 110 Fajr missiles and over 300 Fateh missiles.
- On November 16, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert that Iranian government-sponsored hackers had compromised an unnamed federal government network.
- On November 24, the Iranian hacker group, “Staff of Moses,” released CCTV footage of the November 23 Jerusalem bus stop bombings, apparently taken from Jerusalem’s security cameras.
Recent JINSA Publications on Iran:
- November 22: “Preemptively Help Ukraine Counter Iranian-made Ballistic Missiles,” Lt Gen Henry Obering, USAF (ret.) and Ari Cicurel
- November 21: “Iran, Russia Are Subverting The UN – Will Anyone Respond?” Gabriel Noronha and Morgan Lorraine Viña
- November 4: “The Expanding Russia-Iran Arms Nexus,” Ari Cicurel and N. Nolan Judd
- November 4: “Why Congress Must Sanction Iran’s Drone Program,” Ari Cicurel and Lt Gen Chris Nowland, USAF (ret.)
Recent JINSA Iran Nuclear Talks Update:
- November 14: Iran Nuclear Talks Update, Andrew Ghalili