The Soviet-designed Scud B (17E) guided missile currently
forms the core of Iran’s ballistic missile forces -- largely as a result of
the Iran-Iraq War.
Iran only acquired its Scuds in response to Iraq’s invasion.
It obtained a limited number from Libya and then obtained larger numbers
from North Korea. It deployed these units with a special Khatam ol-Anbya
force attached to the air element of the Pasdaran. Iran fired its first
Scuds in March, 1985. It fired as many as 14 Scuds in 1985, 8 in 1986, 18
in 1987, and 77 in 1988. Iran fired 77 Scud missiles during a 52 day period
in 1988, during what came to be known as the "war of the cites." Sixty-one
were fired at Baghdad, nine at Mosul, five at Kirkuk, one at Takrit, and
one at Kuwait. Iran fired as many as five missiles on a single day, and
once fired three missiles within 30 minutes. This still, however, worked
out to an average of only about one missile a day, and Iran was down to
only 10-20 Scuds when the war of the cities ended.
Iran's missile attacks were initially more effective than
Iraq's attacks. This was largely a matter of geography. Many of Iraq's major
cities were comparatively close to its border with Iran, but Tehran and
most of Iran's major cities that had not already been targets in the war
were outside the range of Iraqi Scud attacks. Iran's missiles, in contrast,
could hit key Iraqi cities like Baghdad. This advantage ended when Iraq
deployed extended range Scuds.
The Scud B is a relatively old Soviet design which first
became operational in 1967, designated as the R-17E or R-300E. The Scud
B has a range of 290-300 kilometers with its normal conventional payload.
The export version of the missile is about 11 meters long, 85-90 centimeters
in diameter, and weighs 6,300 kilograms. It has a nominal CEP of 1,000 meters.
The Russian versions can be equipped with conventional high explosive, fuel
air explosive, runway penetrator, submunition, chemical, and nuclear warheads.
The export version of the Scud B comes with a conventional
high explosive warhead weighing about 1,000 kilograms, of which 800 kilograms
are the high explosive payload and 200 are the warhead structure and fusing
system. It has a single stage storable liquid rocket engine and is usually
deployed on the MAZ-543 eight wheel transporter-erector-launcher (TEL).
It has a strap-down inertial guidance, using three gyros to correct its
ballistic trajectory, and uses internal graphite jet vane steering. The
warhead hits at a velocity above Mach 1.5.
Most estimates indicate that Iran now has 6-12 Scud launchers
and up to 200 Scud B (R-17E) missiles with 230-310 KM range.
Some estimates give higher figures. They estimate Iran
bought 200-300 Scud Bs from North Korea between 1987 and 1992, and may have
continued to buy such missiles after that time. Israeli experts estimate
that Iran had at least 250-300 Scud B missiles, and at least 8-15 launchers
on hand in 1997.
US experts also believe that Iran can now manufacture virtually
all of the Scud B, with the possible exception of the most sophisticated
components of its guidance system and rocket motors. This makes it difficult
to estimate how many missiles Iran has in inventory and can acquire over
time, as well as to estimate the precise performance characteristics of
Iran’s missiles, since it can alter the weight of the warhead and adjust
the burn time and improve the efficiency of the rocket motors.
Iran has new long range North Korean Scuds - with ranges
near 500 kilometers.
The North Korean missile system is often referred to as
a "Scud C." Typically, Iran formally denied the fact it had such systems
long after the transfer of these missiles became a reality. Hassan Taherian,
an Iranian foreign ministry official, stated in February, 1995, “There is
no missile cooperation between Iran and North Korea whatsoever. We deny
In fact, a senior North Korean delegation traveled to Tehran
to close the deal on November 29, 1990, and met with Mohsen Rezaei, the
former commander of the IRGC. Iran either bought the missile then, or placed
its order shortly thereafter. North Korea then exported the missile through
its Lyongaksan Import Corporation. Iran imported some of these North Korean
missile assemblies using its B-747s, and seems to have used ships to import
Iran probably had more than 60 of the longer range North
Korean missiles by 1998, although other sources report 100, and one source
Iran may have 5-10 Scud C launchers, each with several
missiles. This total seems likely to include four new North Korean TELs
received in 1995.
Iran seems to want enough missiles and launchers to make
its missile force highly dispersible.
Iran has begun to test its new North Korean missiles. There
are reports it has fired them from mobile launchers at a test site near
Qom about 310 miles (500 kilometers) to a target area south of Shahroud.
There are also reports that units equipped with such missiles have been
deployed as part of Iranian exercises like the Saeqer-3 (Thunderbolt 3)
exercise in late October, 1993.
The missile is more advanced than the Scud B, although
many aspects of its performance are unclear. North Korea seems to have completed
development of the missile in 1987, after obtaining technical support from
the People's Republic of China. While it is often called a “Scud C, it seems
to differ substantially in detail from the original Soviet Scud B. It seems
to be based more on the Chinese-made DF-61 than on a direct copy of the
Experts estimate that the North Korean missiles have a
range of around 310 miles (500 kilometers), a warhead with a high explosive
payload of 700 kilograms, and relatively good accuracy and reliability.
While this payload is a bit limited for the effective delivery of chemical
agents, Iran might modify the warhead to increase payload at the expense
of range and restrict the using of chemical munitions to the most lethal
agents such as persistent nerve gas. It might also concentrate its development
efforts on arming its Scud C forces with more lethal biological agents.
In any case, such missiles are likely to have enough range-payload to give
Iran the ability to strike all targets on the southern coast of the Gulf
and all of the populated areas in Iraq, although not the West. Iran could
also reach targets in part of eastern Syria, the eastern third of Turkey,
and cover targets in the border area of the former Soviet Union, western
Afghanistan, and western Pakistan.
Accuracy and reliability remain major uncertainties, as
does operational CEP. Much would also depend on the precise level of technology
Iran deployed in the warhead. Neither Russia nor the People's Republic of
China seem to have transferred the warhead technology for biological and
chemical weapons to Iran or Iraq when they sold them the Scud B missile
and CSS-8. However, North Korea may have sold Iran such technology as part
of the Scud C sale. If it did so, such a technology transfer would save
Iran years of development and testing in obtaining highly lethal biological
and chemical warheads. In fact, Iran would probably be able to deploy far
more effective biological and chemical warheads than Iraq had at the time
of the Gulf War.
Iran may be working with Syria in such development efforts,
although Middle Eastern nations rarely cooperate in such sensitive areas.
Iran served as a transshipment point for North Korean missile deliveries
during 1992 and 1993. Some of this transshipment took place using the same
Iranian B-747s that brought missile parts to Iran. Others moved by sea.
For example, a North Korean vessel called the Des Hung Ho, bringing missile
parts for Syria, docked at Bandar Abbas in May, 1992. Iran then flew these
parts to Syria. An Iranian ship coming from North Korea and a second North
Korean ship followed, carrying missiles and machine tools for both Syria
and Iran. At least 20 of the North Korean missiles have gone to Syria from
Iran, and production equipment seems to have been transferred to Iran and
to Syrian plants near Hama and Aleppo.
Iran has created shelters and tunnels in its coastal areas
which it could use to store Scud and other missiles in hardened sites and
reduce their vulnerability to air attack.
Iran can now assemble Scud and Scud C missiles using foreign-made
components. It may soon be able to make entire missile systems and warhead
packages in Iran.
Iran is developing an indigenous missile production capability
with both solid and liquid fueled missiles.Seems to be seeking capability
to produce MRBMs.
The present scale of Iran’s production and assembly efforts
is unclear. Iran seems to have a design center, at least two rocket and
missile assembly plants, a missile test range and monitoring complex, and
a wide range of smaller design and refit facilities.
The design center is said to located at the Defense Technology
and Science Research Center, which is a branch of Iran’s Defense Industry
Organization, and located outside Karaj -- near Tehran. This center directs
a number of other research efforts. Some experts believe it has support
from Russian and Chinese scientists .
Iran’s largest missile assembly and production plant is
said to be a North Korean-built facility near Isfahan, although this plant
may use Chinese equipment and technology. There are no confirmations of
these reports, but this region is the center of much of Iran's advanced
defense industry, including plants for munitions, tank overhaul, and helicopter
and fixed wing aircraft maintenance. Some reports say the local industrial
complex can produce liquid fuels and missile parts from a local steel mill.
A second missile plant is said to be located 175 kilometers
east of Tehran, near Semnan. Some sources indicate this plant is Chinese-built
and began rocket production as early as 1987. It is supposed to be able
to build 600-1,000 Oghab rockets per year, if Iran can import key ingredients
for solid fuel motors like ammonium perchlorate. The plant is also supposed
to produce the Iran-130.
Another facility may exist near Bandar Abbas for the assembly
of the Seersucker. China is said to have built this facility in 1987, and
is believed to be helping the naval branch of the Guards to modify the Seersucker
to extend its range to 400 kilometers. It is possible that China is also
helping Iran develop solid fuel rocket motors and produce or assemble missiles
like the CS-801 and CS-802. There have, however, been reports that Iran
is developing extended range Scuds with the support of Russian experts,
and of a missile called the Tondar 68, with a range of 700 kilometers.
Still other reports claim that Iran has split its manufacturing
facilities into plants near Pairzan, Seman, Shiraz, Maghdad, and Islaker.
These reports indicate that the companies involved in building the Scuds
are also involved in Iran’s production of poison gas and include Defense
Industries, Shahid, Bagheri Industrial Group, and Shahid Hemat Industrial
Iran’s main missile test range is said to be further east,
near Shahroud, along the Tehran-Mashhad railway. A telemetry station is
supposed to be 350 kilometers to the south at Taba, along the Mashhad-Isfahan
road. All of these facilities are reportedly under the control of the Islamic
Revolutionary Guards Corps.
There were many reports during the late 1980s and early
1990s that Iran had ordered the North Korean No Dong missile, which was
planned to have the capability to carry nuclear and biological missile ranges
of up to 900 kilometers. This range would allow the missile could reach
virtually any target in Gulf, Turkey, and Israel. The status of the No Dong
program has since become increasingly uncertain, although North Korea deployed
some developmental types at test facilities in 1997.
The No-Dong underwent flight tests at ranges of 310 miles
(500 kilometers) on May 29, 1993. Some sources indicate that Iranians
were present at these tests. Extensive further propulsion tests began
in August 1994, and some reports indicate operational training began for
test crews in May 1995. Missile storage facilities began to be built in
July 1995, and four launch sites were completed in October 1995.
The progress of the program has been slow since that
time, and may reflect development problems. However, mobile launchers
were seen deployed in northeast North Korea on March 24, 1997. According
to some reports, a further seven launcher units were seen at a facility
about 100 kilometers from Pyongyang.
The No-Dong 1 is a single-stage liquid-fueled missile,
with a range of up to 1,000 to 1,300 kilometers (810 miles), although
longer ranges may be possible with a reduced warhead and maximum burn.
There are also indications that there may be a No-Dong 2, using the same
rocket motor, but with an improved fuel supply system that allows the
fuel to burn for a longer period.
The missile is about 15.2 meters long -- four meters
longer than the Scud B -- and 1.2 meters in diameter. The warhead is estimated
to weigh 770 kilograms (1,200-1,750 pounds) and a warhead manufacturing
facility exists near Pyongyang. The No-Dong has an estimated theoretical
CEP of 700 meters at maximum range, versus 900 meters for the Scud B,
although its practical accuracy could be as wide as 3,000-4,000 meters.
It has an estimated terminal velocity of Mach 3.5, versus 2.5 for the
Scud B, which presents added problems for tactical missile defense. The
missile is be transportable on a modified copy of the MAZ-543P TEL
that has been lengthened with a fifth axle and which is roughly 40 meters
long. The added support stand for the vertical launch modes brings the
overall length to 60 meters, and some experts questioned whether a unit
this big is practical.
Other reports during the later 1980s and early 1990s indicated
that Iran was also interested in two developmental North Korean IRBMs called
the Tapeo Dong 1 and Tapeo Dong 2
The Tapeo Dong 1 missile has an estimated maximum range
of 2,000 kilometers, and the Tapeo Dong 2 may have a range up to 3,500
Both Tapeo Dongs are liquid fueled missiles which seem
to have two stages.
Unlike the No-Dong, the Tapeo Dongs must be carried to
a site in stages and then assembled at a fixed site. The No-Dong transporter
may be able to carry both stages of the Tapeo Dong 1, but some experts
believe that a special transporter is needed for the first stage of the
Tapeo Dong 1, and for both stages of the Tapeo Dong 2.
Since the early 1990s, the focus of reports on Iran’s missile
efforts have shifted, and it has since become clear that Iran is developing
its own longer-range variants of the No Dong for indigenous production with
substantial Russian and some Chinese aid:
As early as 1992, one such missile was reported to have
a range of 800-930 miles and a 1,650 pound warhead. Reports differ
sharply on its size. Jane’s estimates a launch weight up to 16,000 kilograms,
provided the system is derived from the No Dong. It could have a launch
weight of 15,000 kilograms, a payload of 600 kilograms, and a range of
1,700-1,800 kilometers if it is based on a system similar to the Chinese
CSS-5 (DF-21) and CSS-N3 ((JL-1). These systems entered service in 1983
A longer-range missile was said to have improved guidance
components, a range of up to 1,240 miles and a warhead of up to 2,200
IOC dates were then estimated to be 1999-2001.
Russia agreed in 1994 that it would adhere to the terms
of the Missile Technology Control Regime and would place suitable limits
on the sale or transfer of rocket engines and technology. Nevertheless,
the CIA has identified Russia as a leading source of Iranian missile technology,
and the State Department has indicated that President Clinton expressed
US concerns over this cooperation to President Yeltsin. This transfer
is one reason the President appointed former Ambassador Frank Wisner,
and then Robert Galluci, as his special representatives to try to persuade
Russia to put a firm halt to aid support of the Iran.
These programs are reported to have continuing support
from North Korea, and from Russian and Chinese firms and technicians.
One such Chinese firm is Great Wall Industries. The Russian firms include
the Russian Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, which has provided Iran’s
Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) with wind tunnels for missile design,
equipment for manufacturing missile models, and the software for testing
launch and reentry performance. They may also include Rosvoorouzhenie,
a major Russian arms-export agency; NPO Trud, a rocket motor manufacturer;
a leading research center called the Bauman Institute, and Polyus (Northstar),
a major laser test and manufacturing equipment firm.
The CIA reported in June 1997 that Iran obtained major
new transfers of new long-range missile technology from Russian and Chinese
firms during 1996. Since that time, there have been many additional reports
of technology transfer from Russia.
The reports on Chinese technology transfers involve the
There have been past reports that Iran placed orders
for PRC-made M-9 (CSS-6/ DF-15) missile (280-620 kilometers range, launch
weight of 6,000 kilograms).
It is more likely, however, that PRC firms are giving
assistance in developing indigenous missile R&D and production facilities
for the production of an Iranian solid fueled missile.
The US offered to provide China with added missile
technology if it would agree to fully implement an end of technology
transfer to Iran and Pakistan during meetings in Beijing on March 25-26,
Recent reports and tests have provided more detail on the
Some US experts believe that Iran tested booster engines
in 1997 capable of driving a missile ranges of 1,500 kilometers. Virtually
all US experts believe that Iran is rapidly approaching the point where
it will be able to manufacture missiles with much longer ranges than the
It is less clear when Iran will be able to bring such
programs to the final development stage, carry out a full range of suitable
test firings, develop highly lethal warheads, and deploy actual units.
Much may still depends on the level of foreign assistance.
Eitan Ben Eliyahu -- the commander of the Israeli Air
Force -- reported on April 14, 1997 that Iran had tested a missile capable
of reaching Israel. The background briefings to his statement implied
that Russia was assisting Iran in developing two missiles -- with ranges
of 620 and 780 miles Follow-on intelligence briefings that Israel provided
in September, 1997, indicated that Russia was helping Iran develop four
missiles. US intelligence reports indicate that China has also been helping
Iran with some aspects of these missile efforts.
These missiles included the Shahab (“meteor) missiles,
with performance similar to those previously identified with Iranian missiles
adapted from North Korean designs.
The Israeli reports indicated that the Shahab 3 was a
liquid-fueled missile with a range of 810 miles (1,200-1,500 kilometers)
and a payload of 1550 pounds (700 kilometers).
Israel claimed the Shahab might be ready for deployment
as early as 1999.
Iran tested the Sahab 3 on July, 21 1998, claiming that
it was a defensive action to deal with potential threats from Israel.
The missile flew for a distance of up to 620 miles, before
it exploded about 100 seconds after launch. US intelligence sources could
not confirm whether the explosion was deliberate, but indicated that the
final system might have a range of 800-940 miles (a maximum of 1,240 kilometers),
depending on its payload. The test confirmed the fact the missile was
a liquid fueled system.
Gen. Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, head of the Islamic Revolutionary
Guards Corps' air wing publicly reported on August 2, 1998 that the Shahab-3
is 53-foot-long ballistic missile that can travel at 4,300 mph and carry
a one-ton warhead at an altitude of nearly 82,000 feet. He claimed that
the weapon was guided by an Iranian-made system that gives it great accuracy:
“The final test of every weapon is in a real war situation but, given
its warhead and size, the Shahab-3 is a very accurate weapon.
Other Iranian sources reported that the missile had a
range of 800 miles. President Mohammad Khatami on August 1, 1998 stated
that Iran was determined to continue to strengthen its armed forces, regardless
of international concerns: “Iran will not seek permission from anyone
for strengthening its defense capability.
Martin Indyck, the US Assistant Secretary for Near East
Affairs testified on July 28, that the US estimated that the system needed
further refinement but might be deployed in its initial operational form
between September, 1998 and March, 1999.
Iran publicly displayed the Shahab 3 on its launcher
during a parade on September 25, 1998. The missile carrier bore signs
saying, “The US can do nothing and “Israel would be wiped from the map.
There are some reports of a Shahab-3B missile with extended
range and a larger booster.
The resulting system seems to be close to both the No-Dong
and Pakistani Ghauri or Haff-5 missile, first tested in April 1998, raising
questions about Iranian-North Korean-Pakistani cooperation.
North Korean parades exhibiting the Tapeo Dong in September
1999 exhibited a missile with rocket motor and nozzle characteristics
similar to those of the Sahab 3.
In September 1999, the Revolutionary Guard exhibited another
missile called the Zelzal, which it stated was “now in mass production.
The missile was said to have taken four and one-half years to develop and
to be derived from the Zelzal 2, which the IRGC had exhibited earlier. Some
estimates indicate that it can carry a warhead of 500 kilograms for up to
900 kilometers. However, the missile exhibited in Tehran was a rocket on
a truck-mounted launch rail that seemed more likely to have a range of 150-200
There have been growing reports that Iran might be using
Russian technology to develop long-range missiles with ranges from 2,000
to 6,250 kilometers.
Israeli and US intelligence sources have reported that
that Iran is developing the Shahab 4, with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250
miles), a payload of around 2,000 pounds, and a CEP of around 2,400 meters.
Some estimates indicate that this system could be operational in 2-5 years.
US Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs testified on July 28, 1998,
that the US estimated that the system still needed added foreign assistance
to improve its motors and guidance system.
Some reports indicate that the Shahab 4 is based on the
Soviet SS-4 missile. Others that there is a longer range Shahab 5, based
on the SS-4 or Tapeo Dong missile. Reports saying the Shahab is based
on the SS-4 say it has a range of up to 4,000 kilometers and a payload
in excess of one ton.)
Iran may have two other missile programs include longer-range
systems, variously reported as having maximum ranges of 3,650, 4,500-5,000,
6,250, or 10,000 kilometers.
It seems clear that Iran has obtained some of the technology
and design details of the Russian SS-4. The SS-4 (also known as the
R-12 or “Sandal) is an aging Russian liquid fuel designed that first
went into service in 1959, and which was supposedly destroyed as part
of the IRBM Treaty. It is a very large missile, with technology dating
back to the early 1950s, although it was evidently updated at least
twice during the period between 1959 and 1980. It has a CEP of 2-4 kilometers
and a maximum range 2,000 kilometers, which means it can only be lethal
with a nuclear warhead or a biological weapon with near-nuclear lethality.
At the same time, the SS-4’s overall technology is
relatively simple and it has a throwweight of nearly 1,400 kilograms
(3,000 pounds). It is one of the few missile designs that a nation with
a limited technology base could hope to manufacture or adapt, and its
throwweight and range would allow Iran to use a relatively unsophisticated
nuclear device or biological warhead. As a result, an updated version
of the SS-4 might be a suitable design for a developing country.
Iran is reported to have carried out the test of a sea-launched
ballistic missile in 1998.
Russia has been a key supplier of missile technology.
Some sources have indicated that Russian military industries
have signed contracts with Iran to help produce liquid fueled missiles
and provide specialized wind tunnels, manufacture model missiles, and
develop specialized computer software. For example, these reports indicate
that the Russian Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute is cooperating with
Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO) and the DIO’s Shahid Hemmat
Industrial Group (SHIG). The Russian State Corporation for Export and
Import or Armament and Military Equipment (Rosvoorouzhenie) and Infor
are also reported to be involved in deals with the SHIG. These deals are
also said to include specialized laser equipment, mirrors, tungsten-coast
graphite material, and maraging steel for missile development and production.
They could play a major role in help Iran develop long range versions
of the Scud B and C, and more accurate variations of a missile similar
to the No Dong.
The Israeli press reported in August, 1997 that Israeli
had evidence that Iran was receiving Russian support. In September, 1997,
Israel urged the US to step up its pressure on Iran, and leaked reported
indicating that private and state-owned Russian firms had provided gyroscopes,
electronic components, wind tunnels, guidance and propulsion systems,
and the components needed to build such systems to Iran.
President Yeltsin and the Russian Foreign Ministry initially
categorically denied that such charges were true. Following a meeting
with Vice President Gore, President Yeltsin stated on September 26, 1997
that, “We are being accused of supplying Iran with nuclear or ballistic
missile technologies. There is nothing further from the truth. I again
and again categorically deny such rumors.
Russia agreed, however, that Ambassador Wisner and Yuri
Koptyev, the head of the Russian space program, should jointly examine
the US intelligence and draft a report on Russian transfers to Iran. This
report reached a very different conclusion from President Yeltsin and
concluded that Russia had provided such aid to Iran. Further, on October
1, 1997 -- roughly a week after Yeltsin issued his denial -- the Russian
security service issued a statement that it had “thwarted” an Iranian
attempt to have parts for liquid fuel rocket motors manufactured in Russia,
disguised as gas compressors and pumps. Russian firms said to be helping
Iran included the Russian Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute which developed
a special wind tunnel; Rosvoorouzhenie, a major Russian arms-export agency;
Kutznetzov (formerly NPO Trud) a rocket motor manufacturer in Samara;
a leading research center called the Bauman National Technical University
in Moscow, involved in developing rocket propulsion systems; the Tsagi
Research Institute for rocket propulsion development; and the Polyus (Northstar)
Research Institute in Moscow, a major laser test and manufacturing equipment
firm. Iranians were also found to be studying rocket engineering at the
Baltic State University in St. Petersburg and the Bauman State University.
Russia was also found to have sold Iran high strength
steel and special foil for its long-range missile program. The Russian
Scientific and Production Center Inor concluded an agreement as late as
September, 1997 to sell Iran a factory to produce four special metal alloys
used in long-range missiles. Inor’s director, L. P Chromova worked out
a deal with A. Asgharzadeh, the director of an Iranian factory, to sell
620 kilograms of special alloy called 21HKMT, and provide Iran with the
capability to thermally treat the alloy for missile bodies. Iran had previously
bought 240 kilograms of the alloy. Inor was also selling alloy foils called
49K2F, CUBE2, and 50N in sheets 0.2-0.4 millimeters thick for the outer
body of missiles. The alloy 21HKMT was particularly interesting because
North Korea also uses it in missile designs. Inor had previously brokered
deals with the Shahid Hemat Industrial Group in Iran to supply maraging
steel for missile cases, composite graphite-tungsten material, laser equipment,
and special mirrors used in missile tests.
The result was a new and often tense set of conversations
between the US and Russia in January, 1998. The US again sent Ambassador
Frank Wisner to Moscow, Vice President Gore called Prime Minster Viktor
Chernomyrdin, and Secretary of State Madeline Albright made an indirect
threat that the Congress might apply sanctions. Sergi Yastrzhembsky, a
Kremlin spokesman, initially responded by denying that any transfer of
technology had taken place.
This Russian denial was too categorical to have much credibility.
Russia had previously announced the arrest of an Iranian diplomat on November
14, 1997, that it caught attempting to buy missile technology. The Iranian
was seeking to buy blueprints and recruit Russian scientists to go to Iran.
Yuri Koptev, the head of the Russian Space Agency, explained this, however,
by stating that that, “There have been several cases where some Russian
organizations, desperately struggling to make ends meet and lacking responsibility,
have embarked on some ambiguous projects...they were stopped long before
they got to the point where any technology got out.”
The end result of these talks was an agreement by Gore
and Chernomyrdin to strengthen controls over transfer technology, but
it was scarcely clear that it put an end to the problem. As Koptev has
said, “There have been several cases where some Russian organizations,
desperately struggling to make ends meet and lacking responsibility, have
embarked on some ambiguous projects.” Conditions in Russia are getting
worse, not better, and the desperation that drives sales has scarcely
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin again promised to strengthen
his efforts to restrict technology transfer to Iran in a meeting with
Gore on March 12, 1998. The US informed Russia of 13 cases of possible
Russian aid to Iran at the meeting and offered to increase the number
of Russian commercial satellite launches it would license for US firms
as an incentive.
New arrests of smugglers took place on April 9, 1998.
The smugglers had attempted to ship 22 tons of specialized steel to Iran
via Azerbaijan, using several Russia shell corporations as a cover.
On April 16, 1998, the State Department declared 20 Russian
agencies and research facilities were ineligible to receive US aid because
of their role in transferring missile technology to Iran.
A US examination of Iran’s dispersal, sheltering, and hardening
programs for its anti-ship missiles and other missile systems indicate that
Iran has developed effective programs to ensure that they would survive
a limited number of air strikes and that Iran had reason to believe that
the limited number of preemptive strikes Israel could conduct against targets
in the lower Gulf could not be effective in denying Iran the capability
to deploy its missiles.
Iran has shorter missile range systems:
In 1990, Iran bought CSS-8 surface-to-surface missiles
(converted SA-2s) from China with ranges of 130-150 kilometers.
Has Chinese sea and land-based anti-ship cruise missiles.
Iran fired 10 such missiles at Kuwait during Iran-Iraq War, hitting one
Iran has acquired much of the technology necessary build
long-range cruise missile systems from China:
Such missiles would cost only 10% to 25% as much as ballistic
missiles of similar range, and both the HY-2 Seersucker and CS-802 could
be modified relatively quickly for land attacks against area targets.
Iran reported in December, 1995 that it had already fired
a domestically built anti-ship missile called the Saeqe-4 (Thunderbolt)
during exercises in the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman Other reports
indicate that China is helping Iran build copies of the Chinese CS-801/CS-802
and the Chinese FL-2 or F-7 anti-ship cruise missiles. These missiles
have relatively limited range. The range of the CS-801 is 8-40 kilometers,
the range of the CS-802 is 15-120 kilometers, the maximum range of the
F-7 is 30 kilometers, and the maximum range of the FL-10 is 50 kilometers.
Even a range of 120 kilometers would barely cover targets in the Southern
Gulf from launch points on Iran’s Gulf coast. These missiles also have
relatively small high explosive warheads. As a result, Iran may well be
seeking anti-ship capabilities, rather than platforms for delivering weapons
of mass destruction.
A platform like the CS-802 might, however, provide enough
design data to develop a scaled-up, longer-range cruise missile for other
purposes, and the Gulf is a relatively small area where most urban areas
and critical facilities are near the coast. Aircraft or ships could launch
cruise missiles with chemical or biological warheads from outside the
normal defense perimeter of the Southern Gulf states, and it is at least
possible that Iran might modify anti-ship missiles with chemical weapons
to attack tankers -- ships which are too large for most regular anti-ship
missiles to be highly lethal.
Building an entire cruise missile would be more difficult.
The technology for fusing CBW and cluster warheads would be within Iran's
grasp. Navigation systems and jet engines, however, would still be a major
potential problem. Current inertial navigation systems (INS) would introduce
errors of at least several kilometers at ranges of 1,000 kilometers and
would carry a severe risk of total guidance failure -- probably exceeding
two-thirds of the missiles fired. A differential global positioning system
(GPS) integrated with the inertial navigation system (INS) and a radar
altimeter, however, might produce an accuracy of 15 meters. Some existing
remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), such as the South African Skua claim
such performance. Commercial technology is becoming available for differential
global positioning system (GPS) guidance with accuracies of 2 to 5 meters.
There are commercially available reciprocating and gas
turbine engines that Iran could adapt for use in a cruise missile, although
finding a reliable and efficient turbofan engine for a specific design
application might be difficult. An extremely efficient engine would have
to be matched to a specific airframe. It is doubtful that Iran could design
and build such an engine, but there are over 20 other countries with the
necessary design and manufacturing skills.
While airframe-engine-warhead integration and testing
would present a challenge and might be beyond Iran's manufacturing skills,
it is inherently easier to integrate and test a cruise missile than a
long-range ballistic missile. Further, such developments would be far
less detectable than developing a ballistic system if the program used
coded or low altitude directional telemetry.
Iran could bypass much of the problems inherent in developing
its own cruise missile by modifying the HY-2 Seersucker for use as a land
attack weapon and extending its range beyond 80 kilometers, or by modifying
and improving the CS-801 (Ying Jai-1) anti-ship missile. There are reports
that the Revolutionary Guards are working on such developments at a facility
near Bandar Abbas.
Su-24 long-range strike fighters with range-payloads roughly
equivalent to US F-111 and superior to older Soviet medium bombers.
F-4D/E fighter bombers with capability to carry extensive
payloads to ranges of 450 miles.
Can modify HY-2 Silkworm missiles and SA-2 surface-to-air
missiles to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
Iran has made several indigenous-long range rockets.
The Iran-130, or Nazeat, since the end of the Iran-Iraq
War. The full details of this system remain unclear, but it seems to use
commercially available components, a solid fuel rocket, and a simple inertial
guidance system to reach ranges of about 90-120 kilometers. It is 355
mm in diameter, 5.9 meters long, weighs 950 kilograms, and has a 150 kilogram
warhead. It seems to have poor reliability and accuracy, and its payload
only seems to be several hundred kilograms.
The Shahin 2. It too has a 355 mm diameter, but is only
3.87 meters long, and weighs only 580 kilograms. It evidently can be equipped
with three types of warheads: A 180 kilogram high explosive warhead, another
warhead using high explosive submunitions, and a warhead that uses chemical
Iranian Oghab (Eagle) rocket with 40+ kilometers range.
New SSM with 125 mile range may be in production, but
could be modified FROG.
Large numbers of multiple rocket launchers and tube artillery
for short range delivery of chemical weapons.
The CIA reported in January 1999 that entities in Russia
and China continue to supply missile-related goods and technology to Iran.
Tehran is using these goods and technologies to achieve its goal of becoming
self-sufficient in the production of MRBMs. The July flight test of the
Shahab-3 MRBM demonstrates the success Iran has achieved in realizing that
goal. Iran already is producing Scud SRBMs with North Korean help and has
begun production of the Shahab-3. In addition, Iran’s Defense Minister has
publicly acknowledged the development of the Shahab-4 ballistic missile,
with a “longer range and heavier payload than the 1,300-km Shahab-3.”
Iran’s earlier success in gaining technology and materials
from Russian companies accelerated Iranian development of the Shahab-3
MRBM, which was first flight tested in July 1998.
The CIA report on missile proliferation in September 1999
estimated that Iran is the next hostile country most capable of testing
an ICBM capable of delivering a weapon to the United States during the next
Iran could test an ICBM that could deliver a several-hundred
kilogram payload to many parts of the United States in the latter half of
the next decade, using Russian technology and assistance.
Iran could pursue a Taepo Dong-type ICBM. Most analysts
believe it could test a three-stage ICBM patterned after the Taepo Dong-1
SLV or a three-stage Taepo Dong-2-type ICBM, possibly with North Korean
assistance, in the next few years.
Iran is likely to test an SLV by 2010 that—once developed—could
be converted into an ICBM capable of delivering a several-hundred kilogram
payload to the United States.
Analysts differ on the likely timing of Iran’s first flight
test of an ICBM that could threaten the United States. Assessments include:
likely before 2010 and very likely before 2015 (noting
that an SLV with ICBM capabilities will probably be tested within the
next few years);
no more than an even chance by 2010 and a better than
even chance by 2015;
and less than an even chance by 2015.
Iran purchased large amounts of chemical defense gear from
the mid-1980s onwards. Iran also obtained stocks of non-lethal CS gas, although
it quickly found such agents had very limited military impact since they could
only be used effectively in closed areas or very small open areas.
Acquiring poisonous chemical agents was more difficult. Iran
did not have any internal capacity to manufacture poisonous chemical agents
when Iraq first launched its attacks with such weapons. While Iran seems to
have made limited use of chemical mortar and artillery rounds as early as
1985 -- and possibly as early as 1984 -- these rounds were almost certainly
captured from Iraq.
Iran had to covertly import the necessary equipment and supplies,
and it took several years to get substantial amounts of production equipment,
and the necessary feedstocks. Iran sought aid from European firms like Lurgi
to produce large "pesticide" plants, and began to try to obtain the needed
feedstock from a wide range of sources, relying heavily on its Embassy in
Bonn to manage the necessary deals. While Lurgi did not provide the pesticide
plant Iran sought, Iran did obtain substantial support from other European
firms and feedstocks from many other Western sources.
By 1986-1987, Iran developed the capability to produce enough
lethal agents to load its own weapons. The Director of the CIA, and informed
observers in the Gulf, made it clear that Iran could produce blood agents
like hydrogen cyanide, phosgene gas, and/or chlorine gas. Iran was also able
to weaponize limited quantities of blister (sulfur mustard) and blood (cyanide)
agents beginning in 1987, and had some capability to weaponize phosgene gas,
and/or chlorine gas. These chemical agents were produced in small batches,
and evidently under laboratory scale conditions, which enabled Iran to load
small numbers of weapons before any of its new major production plants went
into full operation.
These gas agents were loaded into bombs and artillery shells,
and were used sporadically against Iraq in 1987 and 1988.
Reports regarding Iran’s production and research facilities
are highly uncertain:
Iran seems to have completed completion of a major poison
gas plant at Qazvin, about 150 kilometers west of Tehran. This plant is
reported to have been completed between November, 1987 and January, 1988.
While supposedly a pesticide plant, the facility’s true purpose seems to
have been poison gas production using organophosphorous compounds.
It is impossible to trace all the sources of the major
components and technology Iran used in its chemical weapons program during
this period. Mujahideen sources claim Iran also set up a chemical bomb and
warhead plant operated by the Zakaria Al-Razi chemical company near Mahshar
in southern Iran.
Reports that Iran had chemical weapons plants at Damghan
and Parchin that began operation as early as March, 1988, and may have begun
to test fire Scuds with chemical warheads as early as 1988-1989, are equally
Iran established at least one large research and development
center under the control of the Engineering Research Centre of the Construction
Crusade (Jahad e-Sazandegi), had established a significant chemical weapons
production capability by mid-1989,
Debates took place in the Iranian parliament or Majlis in
late 1988 over the safety of Pasdaran gas plants located near Iranian towns,
and that Rafsanjani described chemical weapons as follows: "Chemical and biological
weapons are poor man's atomic bombs and can easily be produced. We should
at least consider them for our defense. Although the use of such weapons is
inhuman, the war taught us that international laws are only scraps of paper."
Post Iran-Iraq War estimates of Iran chemical weapons production
are extremely uncertain:
US experts believe Iran was beginning to produce significant
mustard gas and nerve gas by the time of the August, 1988 cease-fire in
the Iran-Iraq War, although its use of chemical weapons remained limited
and had little impact on the fighting
Iran’s efforts to equip plants to produce V-agent nerve
gases seem to have been delayed by US, British, and German efforts to limit
technology transfers to Iran, but Iran may have acquired the capability
to produce persistent nerve gas during the mid 1990s.
Production of nerve gas weapons started no later than 1994.
Began to stockpile of cyanide (cyanogen chloride), phosgene,
and mustard gas weapons after 1985. Recent CIA testimony indicates that
production capacity may approach 1,000 tons annually.
Weapons include bombs and artillery. Shells include 155 mm
artillery and mortar rounds. Iran also has chemical bombs and mines. It may
have developmental chemical warheads for its Scuds, and may have a chemical
package for its 22006 RPV (doubtful).
There are reports that Iran has deployed chemical weapons
on some of its ships.
Iran has increased chemical defensive and offensive warfare
training since 1993.
Iran is seeking to buy more advanced chemical defense equipment,
and has sought to buy specialized equipment on world market to develop indigenous
capability to produce advanced feedstocks for nerve weapons.
CIA sources indicated in late 1996, that China might have
supplied Iran with up to 400 tons of chemicals for the production of nerve
One report indicated in 1996, that Iran obtained 400 metric
tons of chemical for use in nerve gas weapons from China -- including carbon
Another report indicated that China supplied Iran with
roughly two tons of calcium-hypochlorate in 1996, and loaded another 40,000
barrels in January or February of 1997. Calcium-hypochlorate is used for
decontamination in chemical warfare.
Iran placed several significant orders from China that
were not delivered. Razak Industries in Tehran, and Chemical and Pharmaceutical
Industries in Tabriz ordered 49 metric tons of alkyl dimethylamine, a chemical
used in making detergents, and 17 tons of sodium sulfide, a chemical used
in making mustard gas. The orders were never delivered, but they were brokered
by Iran’s International Movalled Industries Corporation (Imaco) and China’s
North Chemical Industries Co. (Nocinco). Both brokers have been linked to
other transactions affecting Iran’s chemical weapons program since early
1995, and Nocinco has supplied Iran with several hundred tons of carbon
disulfide, a chemical uses in nerve gas.
Another Chinese firm, only publicly identified as Q. Chen,
seems to have supplied glass vessels for chemical weapons
The US imposed sanctions on seven Chinese firms in May,
1997, for selling precursors for nerve gas and equipment for making nerve
gas -- although the US made it clear that it had, “no evidence that the
Chinese government was involved.” The Chinese firms were the Nanjing Chemical
Industries Group and Jiangsu Yongli Chemical Engineering and Import/Export
Corporation. Cheong Yee Ltd., a Hong Kong firm, was also involved. The precursors
included tionyl chloride, dimethylamine, and ethylene chlorohydril. The
equipment included special glass lined vessels, and Nanjing Chemical and
Industrial Group completed construction of a production plant to manufacture
such vessels in Iran in June, 1997.
Iran sought to obtain impregnated Alumina, which is used
to make phosphorous-oxychloride -- a major component of VX and GB -- from
It has obtained some equipment from Israelis. Nahum Manbar,
an Israeli national living in France, was convicted in an Israeli court
in May 1997 for providing Iran with $16 million worth of production equipment
for mustard and nerve gas during the period from 1990 to 1995.
CIA reported in June 1997 that Iran had obtained new chemical
weapons equipment technology from China and India in 1996.
India is assisting in the construction of a major new plant
at Qazvim, near Tehran, to manufacture phosphorous pentasulfide, a major
precursor for nerve gas. The plant is fronted by Meli Agrochemicals, and
the program was negotiated by Dr. Mejid Tehrani Abbaspour, a chief security
advisor to Rafsanjani.
A recent report by German intelligence indicates that Iran
has made major efforts to acquire the equipment necessary to produce Sarin
and Tabun, using the same cover of purchasing equipment for pesticide plants
that Iraq used for its Sa’ad 16 plant in the 1980s. German sources note
that three Indian companies -- Tata Consulting Engineering, Transpek, and
Rallis India -- have approached German pharmaceutical and engineering concerns
for such equipment and technology under conditions where German intelligence
was able to trace the end user to Iran
Iran ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in June 1997.
It submitted a statement in Farsi to the CWC secretariat
in 1998, but this consisted only of questions in Farsi as to the nature
of the required compliance.
It has not provided the CWC with any data on its chemical
The CIA estimated in January 1999 that Iran obtained material
related to chemical warfare (CW) from various sources during the first half
of 1998. It already has manufactured and stockpiled chemical weapons, including
blister, blood, and choking agents and the bombs and artillery shells for
delivering them. However, Tehran is seeking foreign equipment and expertise
to create a more advanced and self-sufficient CW infrastructure.
The CIA stated that Chinese entities sought to supply Iran
with CW-related chemicals during 1997-1998 period. The US sanctions imposed
in May 1997 on seven Chinese entities for knowingly and materially contributing
to Iran’s CW program remain in effect.
Extensive laboratory and research capability.
Weapons effort documented as early as 1982. Reports surfaced
that Iran had imported suitable type cultures from Europe and was working
on the production of Mycotoxins -- a relatively simple family of biological
agents that require only limited laboratory facilities for small scale production.
US intelligence sources reported in August, 1989, that Iran
was trying to buy two new strains of fungus from Canada and the Netherlands
that can be used to produce Mycotoxins. German sources indicated that Iran
had successfully purchased such cultures several years earlier.
The Imam Reza Medical Center at Mashhad Medical Sciences
University and the Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology
were identified as the end users for this purchasing effort, but it is likely
that the true end user was an Iranian government agency specializing in biological
Many experts believe that the Iranian biological weapons
effort was placed under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,
which is known to have tried to purchase suitable production equipment for
Since the Iran-Iraq War, Iran has conducted research on more
lethal active agents like Anthrax, hoof and mouth disease, and biotoxins.
In addition, Iranian groups have repeatedly approached various European firms
for the equipment and technology necessary to work with these diseases and
Unclassified sources of uncertain reliability have identified
a facility at Damghan as working on both biological and chemical weapons
research and production, and believe that Iran may be producing biological
weapons at a pesticide facility near Tehran.
Some universities and research centers may be linked to
biological weapons program.
Reports surfaced in the spring of 1993 that Iran had succeeded
in obtaining advanced biological weapons technology in Switzerland and containment
equipment and technology from Germany. According to these reports, this
led to serious damage to computer facilities in a Swiss biological research
facility by unidentified agents. Similar reports indicated that agents had
destroyed German bio-containment equipment destined for Iran.
More credible reports by US experts indicate that Iran
has begun to stockpile anthrax and Botulinum in a facility near Tabriz,
can now mass manufacture such agents, and has them in an aerosol form. None
of these reports, however, can be verified.
The CIA has reported that Iran has, “sought dual-use biotech
equipment from Europe and Asia, ostensibly for civilian use.” It also reported
in 1996 that Iran might be ready to deploy biological weapons. Beyond this
point, little unclassified information exists regarding the details of Iran's
effort to “weaponize” and produce biological weapons.
Iran may have the production technology to make dry storable
and aerosol weapons. This would allow it to develop suitable missile warheads
and bombs and covert devices.
Iran may have begun active weapons production in 1996, but
probably only at limited scale suitable for advanced testing and development.
CIA testimony indicates that Iran is believed to have weaponized
both live agents and toxins for artillery and bombs and may be pursuing biological
warheads for its missiles. The CIA reported in 1996 that, “We believe that
Iran holds some stocks of biological agents and weapons. Tehran probably has
investigated both toxins and live organisms as biological warfare agents.
Iran has the technical infrastructure to support a significant biological
weapons program with little foreign assistance.
CIA reported in June 1997 that Iran had obtained new dual
use technology from China and India during 1996.
Iran announced in June 1997 that it would not produce or
employ chemical weapons including toxins.
The CIA estimated in January 1999 that Iran continued to
pursue purchasing dual-use biotechnical equipment from Russia and other countries,
ostensibly for civilian uses. Its biological warfare (BW) program began during
the Iran-Iraq war, and Iran may have some limited capability for BW deployment.
Outside assistance is both important and difficult to prevent, given the dual-use
nature of the materials and equipment being sought and the many legitimate
end uses for these items.
Russia remains a key source of biotechnology for Iran.
Russia’s world-leading expertise in biological weapons makes it an attractive
target for Iranians seeking technical information and training on BW agent
The Shah established the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
in 1974, and rapidly began to negotiate for nuclear power plants.
He concluded an extendible ten year nuclear fuel contract
with the US in 1974, with Germany in 1976, and France in 1977.
In 1975, he purchased a 10% share in a Eurodif uranium
enrichment plant being built at Tricastin in France that was part of a French,
Belgian, Spanish, and Italian consortium. Under the agreement the Shah signed,
Iran was to have full access to the enrichment technology Eurodif developed,
and agreed to buy a quota of enriched uranium from the new plant.
He created an ambitious plan calling for a network of 23
power reactors throughout Iran that was to be operating by the mid-1990s,
and sought to buy nuclear power plants from Germany and France.
By the time the Shah fell in January, 1979, he had six
reactors under contract, and was attempting to purchase a total of 12 nuclear
power plants from Germany, France, and the US. Two 1,300 megawatt German
nuclear power plants at Bushehr were already 60% and 75% completed, and
site preparation work had begun on the first of two 935 megawatt French
plants at Darkhouin that were to be supplied by Framatome.
The Shah also started a nuclear weapons program in the early
to mid-1970s, building upon his major reactor projects, investment in URENCO,
and smuggling of nuclear enrichment and weapons related technology from US
5 megawatt light-water research reactor operating in Tehran.
27 kilowatt neutron-source reactor operating in Isfahan.
Started two massive 1300 megawatt reactor complexes.
The Shah attempted to covertly import controlled technology
from the US/.
US experts believe that Shah began a low-level nuclear weapons
research program, centered at the Amirabad Nuclear Research Center. This research
effort included studies of weapons designs and plutonium recovery from spent
It also involved a laser enrichment program which began
in 1975, and led to a complex and highly illegal effort to obtain laser
separation technology from the US. This latter effort, which does not seems
to have had any success, continued from 1976 until the Shah's fall, and
four lasers operating in the critical 16 micron band were shipped to Iran
in October, 1978.
At the same time, Iran worked on other ways to obtain plutonium,
created a secret reprocessing research effort to use enriched uranium, and
set up a small nuclear weapons design team.
In 1976, Iran signed a secret contract to buy $700 million
worth of yellow cake from South Africa, and appears to have reached an agreement
to buy up to 1,000 metric tons a year. It is unclear how much of this ore
South Africa shipped before it agreed to adopt IAEA export restrictions
in 1984, and whether South Africa really honored such export restrictions.
Some sources indicate that South Africa still made major deliveries as late
Iran also tried to purchase 26.2 kilograms of highly enriched
uranium; the application to the US for this purchase was pending when the
The Shah did eventually accept full IAEA safeguards but
there value is uncertain .
In 1984, Khomeini revived nuclear weapons program begun under
Received significant West German and Argentine corporate
support in some aspects of nuclear technology during the Iran-Iraq War.
Limited transfers of centrifuge and other weapons related
technology from PRC, possibly Pakistan.
It has a Chinese-supplied heavy-water, zero-power research
reactor at Isfahan Nuclear Research Center, and two-Chinese supplied sub-critical
assemblies -- a light water and graphite design.
It has stockpiles of uranium and mines in Yazd area. It
may have had a uranium-ore concentration facility at University of Tehran,
but status unclear.
Some experts feel that the IRGC moved experts and equipment
from the Amirabad Nuclear Research Center to a new nuclear weapons research
facility near Isfahan in the mid-1980s, and formed a new nuclear research
center at the University of Isfahan in 1984 -- with French assistance. Unlike
many Iranian facilities, the center at Isfahan was not declared to the IAEA
until February 1992, when the IAEA was allowed to make a cursory inspection
of six sites that various reports had claimed were the location of Iran's
nuclear weapons efforts.
(Bushehr I & II), on the Gulf Coast just southwest
of Isfahan, were partially completed at the time of the Shah’s fall. Iran
attempted to revive the program and sought German and Argentine support,
but the reactors were damaged by Iraqi air strikes in 1987 and 1988.
Iran may also have opened a new uranium ore processing
plant close to its Shagand uranium mine in March, 1990, and it seems to
have extended its search for uranium ore into three additional areas. Iran
may have also begun to exploit stocks of yellow cake that the Shah had obtained
from South Africa in the late 1970s while obtaining uranium dioxide from
Argentina by purchasing it through Algeria.
Iran began to show a renewed interest in laser isotope
separation (LIS) in the mid-1980s, and held a conference on LIS in September,
Iran opened a new nuclear research center in Isfahan in
1984, located about four kilometers outside the city and between the villages
of Shahrida and Fulashans. This facility was built at a scale far beyond
the needs of peaceful research, and Iran sought French and Pakistani help
for a new research reactor for this center.
The Khomeini government may also have obtained several
thousand pounds of uranium dioxide from Argentina by purchasing it through
Algeria. Uranium dioxide is considerably more refined than yellow cake,
and is easier to use in irradiating material in a reactor to produce plutonium.
The status of Iran’s nuclear program since the Iran-Iraq
War is highly controversial, and Iran has denied the existence of such a program.
On February 7, 1990, the speaker of the Majlis publicly
toured the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and opened the new Jabir Ibn
al Hayyan laboratory to train Iranian nuclear technicians. Reports then
surfaced that Iran had at least 200 scientists and a work force of about
2,000 devoted to nuclear research
Iran’s Deputy President Ayatollah Mohajerani stated in
October, 1991, that Iran should work with other Islamic states to create
an “Islamic bomb.”
The Iranian government has repeatedly made proposals to
create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. For example, President Rafsanjani
was asked if Iran had a nuclear weapons program in an interview in the CBS
program 60 Minutes in February 1997. He replied, “Definitely not. I hate
Other senior Iranian leaders, including President Khatami
have made similar categorical denials. Iran’s new Foreign Minister, Kamal
Kharrazi, stated on October 5, 1997, that, "We are certainly not developing
an atomic bomb, because we do not believe in nuclear weapons... We believe
in and promote the idea of the Middle East as a region free of nuclear weapons
and other weapons of mass destruction. But why are we interested to develop
nuclear technology? We need to diversify our energy sources. In a matter
of a few decades, our oil and gas reserves would be finished and therefore,
we need access to other sources of energy...Furthermore, nuclear technology
has many other utilities in medicine and agriculture. The case of the United
States in terms of oil reserve is not different from Iran’s The United States
also has large oil resources, but at the same time they have nuclear power
plants. So there is nothing wrong with having access to nuclear technology
if it is for peaceful purposes...”
The IAEA reports that Iran has fully complied with its present
requirements, and that it has found no indications of nuclear weapons effort,
but IAEA only inspects Iran’s small research reactors.
The IAEA visits to other Iranian sites are not inspections,
and do not use instruments, cameras, seals, etc. The are informal walk-throughs.
The IAEA visited five suspect Iranian facilities in 1992
and 1993 in this manner, but did not conduct full inspections.
Iran has not had any 93+2 inspections and its position
on improved inspections is that it will not be either the first or the last
to have them.
Iranian officials have repeatedly complained that the West
tolerated Iraqi use of chemical weapons and its nuclear and biological build-up
during the Iran-Iraq War, and has a dual standard where it does not demand
inspections of Israel or that Israel sign the NPT.
These are reasons to assume that Iran still has a nuclear
Iran attempted to buy highly enriched fissile material
from Khazakstan. The US paid between $20 million and $30 million to buy
1,300 pounds of highly enriched uranium from the Ust-Kamenogorsk facility
in Khazakstan that Iran may have sought to acquire in 1992. A total of 120
pounds of the material -- enough for two bombs -- cannot be fully accounted
Iran has imported maraging steel, sometimes used for centrifuges,
by smuggling it in through dummy fronts. Britain intercepted 110 pound (50
kilo) shipment in August, 1996. Seems to have centrifuge research program
at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. IAEA “visit” did not confirm.
Those aspects of Iran's program that are visible indicate
that Iran has had only uncertain success. Argentina agreed to train Iranian
technicians at its Jose Balaseiro Nuclear Institute, and sold Iran $5.5
million worth of uranium for its small Amirabad Nuclear Research Center
reactor in May 1987. A CENA team visited Iran in late 1987 and early 1988,
and seems to have discussed selling sell Iran the technology necessary to
operate its reactor with 20% enriched uranium as a substitute for the highly
enriched core provided by the US, and possibly uranium enrichment and plutonium
reprocessing technology as well. Changes in Argentina's government, however,
made it much less willing to support proliferation. The Argentine government
announced in February, 1992, that it was canceling an $18 million nuclear
technology sale to Iran because it had not signed a nuclear safeguards arrangement.
Argentine press sources suggested, however, that Argentina was reacting
to US pressure.
In February, 1990 a Spanish paper reported that Associated
Enterprises of Spain was negotiating the completion of the two nuclear power
plants at Bushehr. Another Spanish firm called ENUSA (National Uranium Enterprises)
was to provide the fuel, and Kraftwerke Union (KWU) would be involved. Later
reports indicated that a 10 man delegation from Iran's Ministry of Industry
was in Madrid negotiating with the Director of Associated Enterprises, Adolofo
Iran negotiated with Kraftwerke Union and CENA of Germany
in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Iran attempted to import reactor parts
from Siemens in Germany and Skoda in Czechoslovakia. None of these efforts
solved Iran’s problems in rebuilding its reactor program, but all demonstrate
the depth of its interest.
Iran took other measures to strengthen its nuclear program
during the early 1990s. It installed a cyclotron from Ion Beam Applications
in Belgium at a facility in Karzaj in 1991.
Iran conducted experiments in uranium enrichment and centrifuge
technology at its Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Sharif University
was also linked to efforts to import cylinders of fluorine suitable for
processing enriched material, and attempts to import specialized magnets
that can be used for centrifuges, from Thyssen in Germany in 1991.
It is clear from Iran’s imports that it has sought centrifuge
technology ever since. Although many of Iran’s efforts have never been made
public, British customs officials seized 110 pounds of maraging steel being
shipped to Iran in July 1996.
Iran seems to have conducted research into plutonium separation
and Iranians published research on uses of tritium that had applications
to nuclear weapons boosting. Iran also obtained a wide range of US and other
nuclear literature with applications for weapons designs. Italian inspectors
seized eight steam condensers bound for Iran that could be used in a covert
reactor program in 1993, and high technology ultrasound equipment suitable
for reactor testing at the port of Bari in January, 1994.
Other aspects of Iran’s nuclear research effort had potential
weapons applications. Iran continued to operate an Argentine-fueled five
megawatt light water highly enriched uranium reactor at the University of
Tehran. It is operated by a Chinese-supplied neutron source research reactor,
and subcritical assemblies with 900 grams of highly enriched uranium, at
its Isfahan Nuclear Research Center. This Center has experimented with a
heavy water zero-power reactor, a light water sub-critical reactor, and
a graphite sub-critical reactor. In addition, it may have experimented with
some aspects of nuclear weapons design.
The German Ministry of Economics has circulated a wide list
of such Iranian fronts which are known to have imported or attempted to import
controlled items. These fronts include the:
Pars Garma Company, the Sadadja Industrial Group (Sadadja
Iran Telecommunications Industry (Sanaye Mokhaberet Iran);
Shahid Hemat Industrial Group, the State Purchasing Organization,
Education Research Institute (ERI);
Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries (IAI);
Iran Fair Deal Company, Iran Group of Surveyors;
Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Industries (IHI);
Iran Navy Technical Supply Center;
Iran Tehran Kohakd Daftar Nezarat, Industrial Development
Ministry of Defense (Vezerate Defa).
Iran claims it eventually needs to build enough nuclear reactors
to provide 20% of its electric power. This Iranian nuclear power program presents
serious problems in terms of proliferation. Although the reactors are scarcely
ideal for irradiating material to produce Plutonium or cannibalizing the core,
they do provide Iran with the technology base to make its own reactors, have
involved other technology transfer helpful to Iran in proliferating and can
be used to produce weapons if Iran rejects IAEA safeguards.
Russian has agreed to build up to four reactors, beginning
with a complex at Bushehr -- with two 1,000- 1,200 megawatt reactors and two
465 megawatt reactors, and provide significant nuclear technology.
Russia has consistently claimed the light water reactor
designs for Bushehr cannot be used to produce weapons grade Plutonium and
are similar to the reactors the US is providing to North Korea.
The US has claimed, however, that Victor Mikhaliov, the
head of Russia’s Atomic Energy Ministry, proposed the sale of a centrifuge
plant in April, 1995. The US also indicated that it had persuaded Russia
not to sell Iran centrifuge technology as part of the reactor deal during
the summit meeting between President’s Clinton and Yeltsin in May, 1995.
It was only after US pressure that Russia publicly stated
that it never planned to sell centrifuge and advanced enrichment technology
to Iran, and Iran denied that it had ever been interested in such technology.
For example, the statement of Mohammed Sadegh Ayatollahi, Iran’s representative
to the IAEA, stated that, “We’ve had contracts before for the Bushehr plant
in which we agreed that the spent fuel would go back to the supplier. For
our contract with the Russians and Chinese, it is the same.” According to
some reports, Russia was to reprocess the fuel at its Mayak plant near Chelyabinsk
in the Urals, and could store it at an existing facility, at Krasnoyarsk-26
in southern Siberia.
The CIA reported in June 1997 that Iran had obtained new
nuclear technology from Russia during 1996.
A nuclear accident at plant at Rasht, six miles north of
Gilan, exposed about 50 people to radiation in July, 1996.
Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov and Russian
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak visited in March, 1998. and Iran and
dismissed US complaints about the risk the reactors would be used to proliferate.
Russia indicated that it would go ahead with selling
two more reactors for construction at Bushehr within the next five years.
The first 1,000 megawatt reactor at Bushehr has experienced
serious construction delays. In March, 1998, Russia and Iran agreed to turn
the construction project into a turn key plant because the Iranian firms
working on infrastructure had fallen well behind schedule. In February,
Iran had agreed to fund improved safety systems. The reactor is reported
to be on a 30- month completion cycle.
The US persuaded the Ukraine not to sell Iran $45 million
worth of turbines for its nuclear plant in early March, 1998, and to strengthen
its controls on Ukrainian missile technology under the MTCR.
The CIA reported in January 1999 that Russia remained a key
supplier for civilian nuclear programs in Iran and, to a lesser extent, India.
With respect to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, Russian assistance would enhance
Iran’s ability to support a nuclear weapons development effort. Such assistance
is less likely to significantly advance India’s effort, given that India’s
nuclear weapons program is more mature. By its very nature, even the transfer
of civilian technology may be of use in the nuclear weapons programs of these
Following intense and continuing engagement with the United
States, Russian officials have taken some positive steps. Russia has committed
to observe certain limits on its nuclear cooperation with Iran, such as
not providing militarily useful nuclear technology.
In January 1998, the Russian Government issued a broad
decree prohibiting Russian companies from exporting items known or believed
to be used for developing WMD or related delivery systems, whether or not
these items are on Russia’s export control list. In May 1998, Russia announced
a decree intended to strengthen compliance of Russian businesses with existing
export controls on proliferation-related items. These actions, if enforced,
could help to counter the proliferation of WMD and their delivery sys tems.
However, there are signs that Russian entities have continued
to engage in behavior inconsistent with these steps. Monitoring Russian
proliferation behavior, therefore, will have to remain a very high priority
for some time to come.
China is reported to have agreed to provide significant nuclear
technology transfer and possible sale of two 300 megawatt pressurized water
reactors in the early 1990s, but then to have agreed to halt nuclear assistance
to Iran after pressure from the US.
Iran signed an agreement with China's Commission on Science,
Technology, and Industry for National Defense on January 21, 1991, to build
a small 27-kilowatt research reactor at Iran's nuclear weapons research
facility at Isfahan. On November 4, 1991, China stated that it had signed
commercial cooperation agreements with Iran in 1989 and 1991, and that it
would transfer an electromagnetic isotope separator (Calutron) and a smaller
nuclear reactor, for "peaceful and commercial" purposes.
The Chinese reactor and Calutron were small research-scale
systems and had no direct value in producing fissile material. They did,
however, give Iran more knowledge of reactor and enrichment technology,
and US experts believe that China provided Iran with additional data on
chemical separation, other enrichment technology, the design for facilities
to convert uranium to uranium hexaflouride to make reactor fuel, and help
in processing yellowcake.
The US put intense pressure on China to halt such transfers.
President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin reached an agreement
at an October, 1997 summit. China strengthened this pledge in negations
with the US in February, 1998.
In March, 1998, the US found that the China Nuclear Energy
Corporation was negotiating to sell Iran several hundred tons of anhydrous
hydrogen fluoride (AHF) to Isfahan Nuclear Research Corporation in central
Iran, a site where some experts believe Iran is working on the development
of nuclear weapons. AHF can be used to separate plutonium, help refine yellow
cake into uranium hexaflouride to produce U-235, and as a feedstock for
Sarin. It is on two nuclear control lists. China agreed to halt the sale.
Iran denied that China had halted nuclear cooperation on
March 15, 1998.
Even so, the US acting Under Secretary of State for Arms
Control and International Security Affairs stated that China was keeping
its pledge not to aid Iran on March 26, 1998.
The CIA reported in January 1999 that During the first half
of 1998, China continued to take steps to strengthen its control over nuclear
exports. China promulgated new export control regulations in June 1998 that
cover the sale of dual-use nuclear equipment. This follows on the heels of
the September 1997 promulgation of controls covering the export of equipment
and materials associated exclusively with nuclear applications. These export
controls should give the Chinese Government greater accounting and control
of the transfer of equipment, materials, and technology to nuclear programs
in countries of concern.
China pledged in late 1997 not to engage in any new nuclear
cooperation with Iran and to complete work on two remaining nuclear projects—a
small research reactor and a zirconium production facility—in a relatively
short period of time. During the first half of 1998, Beijing appears to
have implemented this pledge. The Intelligence Community will continue to
monitor carefully Chinese nuclear cooperation with Iran.
During the reporting period, Chinese entities provided
a variety of missile-related items and assistance to several countries of
proliferation concern. China also was an important supplier of ACW to Iran
through the first half of 1998.
US estimates of Iran’s progress in acquiring nuclear weapons
have become more conservative with time.
In 1992, the CIA estimated that Iran would have the bomb
by the year 2000. In 1995, John Holum testified that Iran could have the
bomb by 2003.
In 1997, after two years in which Iran might have made
progress, he testified that Iran could have the bomb by 2005-2007.
US experts increasingly refer to Iran’s efforts as “creeping
proliferation” and there is no way to tell when or if Iranian current efforts
will produce a weapon, and unclassified lists of potential facilities have
Timing of weapons acquisition depends heavily on whether
Iran can buy fissile material -- if so it has the design capability and
can produce weapons in 1-2 years -- or must develop the capability to process
Plutonium or enrich Uranium -- in which case, it is likely to be 5-10 years.
The control of fissile material in the FSU remains a major
US estimates indicate the FSU left a legacy of some 1,485
tons of nuclear material. This include 770 tons in some 27,000 weapons,
including 816 strategic bombs, 5,434 missile warheads, and about 20,000
theater and tactical weapons. In addition, there were 715 tons of fissile
or near-fissile material in eight countries of the FSU in over 50 sites:
enough to make 35,000-40,000 bombs.
There are large numbers of experienced FSU technicians,
including those at the Russian weapons design center at Arzamas, and at
nuclear production complexes at Chelyabinsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Tomsk.
These factors led the US to conduct Operation Sapphire
in 1994, where the US removed 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from
the Ulba Metallurgy Plant in Kazakhstan at a time Iran was negotiating for
They also led to Britain and the US cooperating in Auburn
Endeavor, and airlifting fissile material out of a nuclear research facility
in Tiblisi, Georgia. There were 10 pounds of material at the institute,
and 8.8 pounds were HEU. (It takes about 35 pounds to make a bomb.) This
operation was reported in the New York Times on April 21, 1998. The British
government confirmed it took place, but would not give the date.
The Jerusalem Post reported on April 9, 1998 that Iran had
purchased four tactical nuclear weapons from Russian smugglers for $25 million
in the early 1990s, that the weapons had been obtained from Kazakhstan in
1991, and that Argentine technicians were helping to activate the weapon.
It quoted what it claimed was an Iranian report, dated
December 26, 1991, of a meeting between Brigadier General Rahim Safavi,
the Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards and Reza Amrohalli, then
head of the Iranian atomic energy organization.
It also quoted a second document -- dated January 2, 1992
--- saying the Iranians were awaiting the arrival of Russian technicians
to show them how to disarm the protection systems that would otherwise inactivate
the weapons if anyone attempted to use them.
The documents implied the weapons were flawed by did not
indicate whether Iran had succeeded in activating them.
The US intelligence community denied any evidence that
such a transfer had taken place.
Other reports of Iran’s nuclear weapons program come from
the People's Mujahideen. The People’s Mujahideen has reported that:
Iran’s facilities include a weapons site called Ma'allem
Kelayah, near Qazvin on the Caspian. This is said to be an IRGC-run facility
established in 1987, which has involved an Iranian investment of $300 million.
Supposedly, the site was to house the 10 megawatt reactor Iran tried to
buy from India.
Two Soviet reactors were to be installed at a large site
at Gorgan on the Caspian, under the direction of Russian physicists.
The People's Republic of China provided uranium enrichment
equipment and technicians for the site at Darkhouin, where Iran once planned
to build a French reactor.
A nuclear reactor was being constructed at Karaj; and that
another nuclear weapons facility exists in the south central part of Iran,
near the Iraqi border.
The ammonia and urea plant that the British firm M. W.
Kellog was building at Borujerd in Khorassan province, near the border with
Turkestan, might be adapted to produce heavy water.
The Amir Kabar Technical University, the Atomic Energy
Organization of Iran (AEOI) (also known as the Organization for Atomic Energy
of Iran or AEOI), Dor Argham Ltd., the Education and Research Institute,
GAM Iranian Communications, Ghoods Research Center, Iran Argham Co., Iran
Electronic Industries, Iranian Research Organization, Ministry of Sepah,
Research and Development Group, Sezemane Sanaye Defa, the Sharif University
of Technology, Taradis Iran Computer Company, and Zakaria Al-Razi Chemical
Company are all participants in the Iranian nuclear weapons effort.
Other sources based on opposition data have listed the
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the Laser Research Center and Ibn-e
Heysam Research and Laboratory Complex, the Bonab Atomic Energy Research
Center (East Azerbaijan), the Imam Hussein University of the Revolutionary
Guards, the Jabit bin al-Hayyan Laboratory, the Khoshomi uranium mine (Yazd),
a possible site at Moallem Kalayeh, the Nuclear Research Center at Tehran
University, the Nuclear Research Center for Agriculture and Medicine (Karaj),
the Nuclear Research Center of Technology (Isfahan), the Saghand Uranium
mine (Yazd), the Sharif University (Tehran) and its Physics Research Center.
The CIA estimated in January 1999 that, Iran remains one
of the most active countries seeking to acquire WMD technology and ACW.
During the reporting period, Iran focused its efforts to acquire WMD-related
equipment, materials, and technology primarily on two countries: Russia
and China. Iran is seeking to develop an indigenous capability to produce
various types of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their delivery
Iran actively sought relevant production technology to lessen
its dependence on foreign sources.
Russian entities continued to market and support a variety
of nuclear-related projects in Iran during the first half of 1998, ranging
from the sale of laboratory equipment for nuclear research institutes to
the construction of a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power reactor in Bushehr, Iran,
that will be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
These projects, along with other nuclear-related purchases, will help Iran
augment its nuclear technology infrastructure, which in turn would be useful
in supporting nuclear weapons research and development.
Russia has committed to observe certain limits on its nuclear
cooperation with Iran. For example, President Yel’tsin has stated publicly
that Russia will not provide militarily useful nuclear technology to Iran.
Beginning in January this year, the Russian Government has taken a number
of steps. For example, in May 1998, Russia announced a decree intended to
strengthen compliance of Russian businesses with existing export controls
on proliferation-related items.
China continued to work on one of its two remaining projects—to
supply Iran’s civil nuclear program with a zirconium production facility.
This facility will be used by Iran to produce cladding for reactor fuel.
As a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is required to apply
IAEA safeguards to nuclear fuel, but safeguards are not required for the
zirconium plant or its products. During the US-China October 1997 Summit,
China pledged not to engage in any new nuclear cooperation with Iran and
to complete cooperation on two ongoing nuclear projects in a relatively
short time. This pledge appears to be holding. In addition, China promulgated
new export regulations in June 1998 that cover the sale of dual-use nuclear
equipment. The regulations took effect immediately and were intended to
strengthen control over equipment and material that would contribute to
proliferation. Promulgation of these regulations fulfills Jiang Zemin’s
commitment to the United States last fall to implement such controls by
the middle of 1998.
Iran claims to desire the establishment of a complete nuclear
fuel cycle for its civilian energy program. In that guise, it seeks to obtain
whole facilities, such as a uranium conversion facility, that, in fact,
could be used in any number of ways in support of efforts to produce fissile
material needed for a nuclear weapon. Despite outside efforts to curtail
the flow of critical technologies and equipment, Tehran continues to seek
fissile material and technology for weapons development and has set up an
elaborate system of military and civilian organizations to support its effort.
Seeking Russian S-300 or S-400 surface-to-air missile system
with limited anti tactical ballistic missile capability.