Monday, May 12, 2014

Mapping Iran's Biological Warfare Complex

http://www.slideshare.net/JillS13/mapping-irans-bio-warfare-complex


Redacted Draft Copy

 

A Brief Analysis of Iran’s Biological Warfare Complex and Biological Weapon Infrastructure




“The revolution in molecular biology and biotechnology can be considered as a potential Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). Andrew F. Krepinevich noted 10 RMAs in the history of warfare. Four elements are required for a RMA: technological advancement, incorporation of this new technology into military systems, military operational innovation, and organizational adaptation in a way that fundamentally alters the character and conduct of conflict.” [1]


Bacillus anthracis[2]


Introduction

Within the field of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and more specifically Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) weapons, Iran’s suspected nuclear weapon program remains the focus of extensive assessment by Western and international intelligence communities. While recent reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), serve to highlight Iran’s suspected nuclear weapon program, Iran’s biological and chemical weapon capabilities, and the infrastructure which support this, have enjoyed far less scrutiny. A comprehensive infrastructure analysis of any clandestine biological weapon complex includes assessment criteria both at the laboratory/facility level as well as the state infrastructure level.[3] Of specific significance to understanding the Iranian biological weapon (BW) complex is its oversight by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the extraterritorial role of the Quds Forces. Iran’s emerging biological weapon complex is infinitely more lethal, indiscriminate and could be easily deployed with plausible deniability, particularly against civilians by Iran’s elite military forces. The convergence of Iran’s BW complex, with command and control squarely under the IRGC, and designation alongside conventional armaments poses perhaps a greater threat to global security than its nuclear complex at this point. 

Historically, biological warfare is defined as the intentional use of micro-organisms, and toxins, generally, of microbial, plant or animal origin to produce disease and/or death in humans, livestock and crops.[4] Twenty one states are suspected by US intelligence agencies of maintaining and or conducting ‘offensive’ biological weapon research. Specific characteristics of a biological weapon complex make it difficult to assess whether a state possesses such a program. Countries such as Syria, Iran, and the DPRK have extensive bio-pharma infrastructures which could support a bio-weapon complex.  Understanding the discrete networks which support and are used as cover for states developing biological weapons is critical to US and allied states’ national security interests. While ‘proof’ of a program’s existence may be exceptionally difficult to extract, there remain critical points within a national infrastructure, which contribute to the probability such programs exist.

State ‘offensive’[5] biological weapon programs pose an inherently different threat than that posed by non-state-supported terrorists or organisations. Reasons for this include, but are not limited to, the technical threshold required to produce mass casualty biological weapons, i.e., genetic engineering, dispersal technologies, weapon testing, acquisition, processes involving weaponization, i.e,. milling and aerosolization. It is generally accepted by most bio-weapon specialists that mass casualty biological warfare remains largely the domain of state (military) weapon laboratories. Therefore, the type of weapon developed and deployed and resulting kill ratios, remain distinguishing factors with regard to the technical sophistication of the weapon and not the psychological effects or possible terror it induces. This article does not address ‘bio-terrorism’, nor the knowledge base or infrastructure required by terrorist organizations to develop or maintain a weapon program.  Rather, the focus is on state-based infrastructures required to maintain a full scale offensive, biological weapon military complex. It traces the historic structure of the Soviet Biopreparat program to current networks employed in Iran today.

“Any quantity of a high-consequence pathogen is strategically significant. One viable micro- organism can be cultured and weaponized with common, commercially available equipment. This circumstance, combined with the fact that pathogens emit no energy and thus cannot be detected at a distance with currently available technology make BW agents exceptionally dangerous.”
                                                                                 Renolds Salerno, Sandia National Laboratories

Biological warfare and the weapons employed are coveted by states, as this is considered the ultimate weapon for deniable operations. Additionally, a biological weapon program is cheaper to run and maintain than a nuclear or chemical weapon program and is often perceived to ‘level the playing field’ against governments which possess nuclear arsenals or overwhelmingly superior conventional weapon capabilities. Plausible deniability also remains an enticing characteristic in offensive bio-weapon development and potential use. BW can be highly virulent, and when produced synthetically, whereby there are no known counter measures or therapeutics, they can be multi-resistant to all antibiotics, they may have lengthy incubation periods, and be highly transmissible. This substantially differentiates BW from chemical and nuclear weapons.  BW may also be employed in a number of non-lethal scenarios, used on civilian populations, deployed as force reducers/multipliers, target highly select sections of a population or location (such as water, air, or transportation systems).  Understanding future BW development in order to protect military forces and civilian populations depends to an increasing extent on our ability to identify and interdict clandestine laboratory networks.


Historic Structure of Biological Weapons and Programs

Laboratory image of the smallpox virus
Weaponized smallpox

In 1991, Joe Esposito and the molecular biologist Craig Venter, who was at the National Institutes of Health, sequenced the entire genome of the Rahima strain of smallpox; that is, they mapped its entire DNA. They found that the virus contains a hundred and eighty-six thousand base pairs of DNA (each base pair being a step on the ladder of the molecule), and that the DNA contains about a hundred and eighty-seven genes-making smallpox one of the most complicated viruses known. (The AIDS virus has only ten genes.)[6]

The intense secrecy and dual-use nature that surround offensive biological weapons programs makes it difficult to accurately assess the structure, location, research and development of such programs.[7] Nearly any discussion of clandestine BW laboratories and resulting warfare programs begin with a review of the massive Soviet biological weapon program known as Biopreparat. Biopreparat was run by the Soviet Union beginning in the 1920’s. It encompassed many of the same structural characteristics a modern-day clandestine BW program contains. Notably, the structure was multi-tiered, with some facilities producing commercial animal and human vaccines and other therapeutics, while simultaneously conducting research and development applicable to offensive bio-weapon development. The programs were highly compartmentalized and under the direct authority of the state security services. Although the basic infrastructure of clandestine programs remains essentially the same, whether in Iraq, Iran, Syria or the DPRK, what has changed is the nature of the biological weapon itself. Rapid developments in the life sciences and bio-technology have led to marked and direct consequences to critical aspects within clandestine biological weapons complexes.

The Soviet Biopreparat program was one of the largest known biological weapon programs to date. It was spread over approximately 50 clandestine sites and employed between 50,000 to 60,000 workers. Structurally, the Soviet network of facilities involved in developing biological weapons consisted of two primary sections: a section under military control, dating back to the late 1920’s, and a second, top-secret program under civilian cover that was created in the early 1970’s.[8] The Red Army opened the first laboratories for research on pathogenic micro-organisms in 1928.  BW facilities under the direct authority of the Soviet Ministry of Defence included the Scientific Research Institute of Microbiology in Kirov (now Vyantka), the Centre for Military Technical Problems of Anti-Bacteriological Defence in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) and the Centre of Virology in Zagorsk (now Sergiyev Posad). These facilities were administered by the 15th Directorate for Biological Protection of the MoD. The Scientific Research Institute of Military Medicine in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), reported to the Military-Medical Directorate of the MoD. Vozrozhdeniye Island, in the Aral Sea, reported to the 15th Directorate and was the main testing ground for biological agents developed at the MoD facilities. [9]

Stepnagorsk Scientific and Technical Institute for Microbiology
Stepnogorsk Scientific and Technical Institute for Microbiology[10]

In the early 1970’s, the Soviet authorities began creating a new network of BW facilities parallel to the military system.[11] The basic structure of Biopreparat facilities included eighteen main labs and production centres, these facilities were supported by a network of other institutes and research centres. The list includes: Stepnogorsk Scientific and Technical Institute for Microbiology, Institute of Ultra Pure Biochemical Preparations, Vector State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology, the Institute of Applied Biochemistry, the Kirov Bioweapons Production Facility, the Zagorsk Smallpox Production facility, Berdsk Bioweapons Production Facility, Bioweapons Research Facility in Obolensk, the Sverdlovsk Bioweapons Production Facility (Military Compound 19), Poisons Laboratory of the Soviet Secret Services, Vozrozhdeniya.[12] A number of the institutes and programs to develop biological weapons had a latent component, meaning that the capability existed to manufacture and produce biological weapons at short notice. This remains a component of BW programs today.

While structural aspects of Biopreparat are still applied to clandestine bio-weapon programs, advances in genomics, fusion toxins, proteomics, synthetic biology, molecular biology, combinatorial chemistry and our understanding of microbial structure and replication will considerably affect the type of weapon development from state laboratories and the network required to support it.[13] 

Photo: Container with vials.
Vials: A total of 97 vials-including those with labels consistent with the al Hakam cover stories of single-cell protein and biopesticides, as well as strains that could be used to produce BW agents-were recovered from a scientist's residence.[14]
A good example of the covert structure employed to conduct offensive BW research is that which occurred in Iraq. While it followed on the structure of the Soviet Biopreparat, although on a much smaller scale, it was perhaps more indicative of how current and future programs are integrated into commercial research and development and the Iraq Survey Group noted a disturbingly similar structure within the Iraqi BW complex. UNSCOM reported the concealing of an anthrax-weapon production facility as a routine civil biotechnological laboratory at Al Hakam. This type of façade, whereby normal research is conducted to obscure research applicable to a BW program, is routine in most nations with clandestine programs. Moreover, as technology advances, infrastructure analysis of a BW complex has become more challenging than during the Soviet era. The dual-use dilemma inherent in the inability to define what constitutes ‘offence’ and ‘defence’ oriented research and development becomes more difficult to assess.[15] Under the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention ‘defensive’ research on biological pathogens, toxins and pre-cursors are allowed and legal.  Efforts by the Iraq Survey Group serve to highlight the problems of searching for a stockpile verses assessing a highly compartmentalized network and infrastructure, although there was awareness that such compartmentalization existed.

In a “Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defence, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence”, on October 2, 2003, it is noted that Iraq was found to be running several compartmentalized pathogen programs. David Kay’s interim report specifically notes:

“We have not yet found stocks of weapons, but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone. We are actively engaged in searching for such weapons based on information being supplied to us by Iraqis.” Why are we having such difficulty in finding weapons or in reaching a confident conclusion that they do not exist or that they once existed but have been removed? Our search efforts are being hindered by six principal factors:
·         From birth, all of Iraq’s WMD actives were highly compartmentalized within a regime that ruled and kept its secrets through fear and terror and with deception and denial built into each program;
·         Deliberate dispersal and destruction of material and documentation related to weapons programs began pre-conflict and ran trans to post conflict;
·         Some WMD personnel crossed borders in the pre/trans conflict period and may have taken evidence and even weapons-related materials with them;
·         Any WMD weapons or material is likely to be small in relation to the total conventional armaments footprint and difficult to near impossible to identify with normal search procedures. It is important to keep in mind that even the bulkiest materials we are searching for, in quantities we would expect to find, can be concealed in spaces not much larger than a two car garage;
We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. Let me just give you a few examples of these concealment efforts, some of which I will elaborate on later:
·         A clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research.
·         A prison laboratory complex possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.
·         Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist’s home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.
·         New research on BW-applicable agents, brucella and Congo Crimean Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN
With regard to biological warfare activities, which have been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG teams are uncovering significant information - including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents.
Debriefings of IIS officials and site visits have begun to unravel a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities within the security service apparatus. This network was never declared to the UN and was previously unknown. We are still working on determining the extent to which this network was tied to large-scale military efforts or BW terror weapons, but this clandestine capability was suitable for preserving BW expertise, BW capable facilities and continuing R&D - all key elements for maintaining a capability for resuming BW production. The IIS also played a prominent role in sponsoring students for overseas graduate studies in the biological sciences, according to Iraqi scientists and IIS sources, providing an important avenue for furthering BW-applicable research. This was the only area of graduate work that the IIS appeared to sponsor.
Discussions with Iraqi scientists’ uncovered agent R&D work that paired overt work with non-pathogenic organisms serving as surrogates for prohibited investigation with pathogenic agents. Examples include: B. Thurengiensis (Bt) with B. anthracis (anthrax), and medicinal plants with ricin. In a similar vein, two key former BW scientists confirmed that Iraq under the guise of legitimate activity developed refinements of processes and products relevant to BW agents. The scientists discussed the development of improved, simplified fermentation and spray drying capabilities for the simulant Bt that would have been directly applicable to anthrax, and one scientist confirmed that the production line for Bt could be switched to produce anthrax in one week if the seed stock were available. Additional information is beginning to corroborate reporting since 1996 about human testing activities using chemical and biological substances, but progress in this area is slow given the concern of knowledgeable Iraqi personnel about their being prosecuted for crimes against humanity.”[16]
 
Advances in the life sciences, weaponization procedures and increasing technological sophistication of delivery platforms mean a ‘stockpile’ is no longer required for an active and highly sophisticated program to exist. In fact, it is no longer desirable given the clandestine nature and protective measures such weapon programs must now embed to counter advances in geospatial imaging and traditional methods of intelligence collection.
Today’s clandestine networks utilize the commercial bio-pharma industry as a cover and the dual-use nature generally ensures that program development remains, at best, speculative. Unfortunately, advances in life sciences mean we may no longer have the luxury of erring on the side of non-verification. We may no longer be able to simply ‘suspect’ a program exists, given the future of biological weapons and developments in synthetic biology. However, if we accept merely ‘suspecting’ a weapon program exists and hoping it doesn’t, which to some extent has been the standard logic for the last twenty years, would this be accepted as the standard model for conventional weapons?  “It’s like mines in the sea…..if you find none, can you assume there are none? However, if you find one, or more, when will you be sure that you have found all of them?”[17]
Clandestine Network Identification at the Facility Level
Compartmentalization is a hallmark of nearly all clandestine biological weapon programs. It is also a characteristic which has historically diverted identification of said networks. It should also be noted that while most pharmaceutical firms are subordinate to the Ministry of Health or Education, institutions suspected of conducting BW research are often subordinate to the respective Ministries of Defence or state security services. Laboratory scientific teams may also be drawn from sections of military elite as in the case of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The interface between military and civilian institutions, a sophisticated clandestine network covering thousands of facilities and under the oversight of the IRGC or any other military or security section, is highly concerning. At the facility level there are often, but not always, specific indicators of a possible BW program.
The design of a production facility provides important information regarding whether the facility is intended to produce pharmaceutical grade products or biological weapon grade materials.[18] Relevant design elements include containment, purification equipment, sterilization equipment, and ventilation and filtration systems.[19] The following statements, presented by GlobalSecurity. Org, define, at the facility and laboratory level, quite precise indicators for assessing a biological weapon research and development program:
“The design of a biochemical processing plant is an important signal of covert biological agent production. Containment of the biological material during processing is of special interest. There is a clear distinction between processing materials for biological or toxin agent weaponization and processing protective agents to be used for countermeasures or personnel performance enhancement. For the production of biological agents for offensive military activities, the processing containment requirement is to protect the environment from the agent because of its infectious nature. For the production of biomaterials, such as vaccines, biological response modifiers, antibiotics, and anti-viral agents, for defensive military activities, the containment requirement is to protect the processed biomaterial from contaminating materials in the environment.”[20]
“Effectiveness of countermeasures is enhanced by achieving high levels of purity and cleanliness in the product before it is administered to friendly personnel. By contrast, an unpurified biological agent that will be used in BW is generally more stable than the purified agent that is needed to produce vaccines and biological response modifiers (BRMs). Consequently, a proliferant does not require a high level of purity if production is for BW use only.”[21]
“Generation of biological agents requires fermenters or single cell production capabilities including smooth, highly polished stainless steel surfaces, self-containment capability, and negative pressure conditions. The primary difference between the production requirements for biological weapons and non-military commercial purposes lies in containment and contamination. During biological agent production, efforts are generally made to avoid contaminating the environment with the organism. Less concern arises about the contamination of the product. Conversely, the pharmaceutical, brewing, and biotechnology industries are most concerned about protecting the purity and quality of the product. This concern is reflected in the nature of the sealing joints, positive or negative pressure chambers, and containment of venting systems. Utilities involving clean steam, sterile air, and inert gas supply are most critical for containment in the processing of biologically based materials for human use, which must meet good manufacturing practices (GMP). Clean steam, generated from a purified water supply, must be supplied to all processing equipment having direct contact with the product to ensure sterility and prevent the influx of environmental contaminants.”[22]
“Steam sterilization is accomplished before product processing by direct supply to the equipment. Steam is supplied to the equipment seals (e.g., sample ports, agitator shafts, raw material addition ports) during processing as a primary barrier. Equally important is the removal of collapsed steam or condensate formed on the equipment. This prevents the formation of pockets of standing water, which promote bacterial growth, and maintains the high temperature necessary for sterilization. The collected contaminated condensate can be channelled to an area for final sterilization or inactivation before it is released into the environment. Efficient steam supply and condensate removal requires pressure regulators, pressure relief devices, venting, and the capability for free draining of all lines.”[23]
“Supplying sterile, inert gases to processing equipment is a method of containment. This can protect oxygen-sensitive biomaterials and prevent aerosol generation of toxic products. Inert gases, such as nitrogen, helium, and argon, are usually supplied directly to processing equipment through sterile, in-line filters, maintaining a pressurized system or providing an inert blanket over the product in processing vessels.”[24]
“To attain a higher level of containment, many bioprocessing industries have employed greater degrees of automation. Potential contamination of purified product, human exposure to toxic products or constituents, and the risk of human error are minimized. Processing facilities make use of state-of-the-art computerized distributed control systems (ABB, Modicon, Allen Bradley Corp.), which allow automatic control, control from remote locations, and automatic data logging and trending.”[25]
“Another component in bio-processing is the design of ventilation within the primary and secondary barriers of a process area. Ventilation at primary barriers (i.e., barriers separating product from equipment operators and the rest of the processing area) is accomplished with dedicated, in-line air/gas membrane filters. Ventilation across secondary barriers requires more complicated air handling system design to allow for the maintenance of clean areas (rated by the number of particles per volume of air) and maintenance of positive or negative pressure between the processing area and the outside environment or between different processing areas in the same facility. Equipment used in these designs includes high efficiency fans and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.”[26]
“The procedure used for the actual replication of an organism is a function of the organism itself. Techniques include cell culture, fermentation, viral replication, recombinant DNA, and powdering and milling. Cell culture is necessary for the reproduction of pathogenic viruses and Rickettsiae since they will not reproduce outside a living cell (e.g., chick embryo or tissue cultures). Single cell growth chambers, including fermentation, are used for the production of bacteria and bacterial toxins, although some bacteria (e.g., plague bacteria) can also be cultivated in living animals. Recombinant DNA techniques are a preferred method to produce rare animal toxins. Because of the complexity of this technique, the capability is not as widespread as the others. Powdering and milling is the technique generally used to produce BW and toxin weapons (TW) agent particles having diameters less than or equal to 10 mm, the size most effective for respiratory delivery.”[27]
“Toxins and pathogens that affect animals, such as anthrax, brucella, plague, and tularemia, are widespread. Vaccines are widely produced and administered. The issue of the need for the same toxic agent for either BW/TW production or countermeasure vaccine production emphasizes the dual-use nature of the technologies. Indeed, initial processing of agents and processing of their associated vaccines only differ by a few steps (e.g., the degree of purification and the type of containment used).”[28]

Clandestine Network Identification at the State Level


Six pathogens, throughout the history of biological warfare, have been considered the most deadly and therefore the most suitable as weapons: anthrax, botulinium, plague, smallpox, tularaemia and viral haemorrhagic fever(s), of these, only smallpox has no other known host, but humans.

While the laboratory of facility level offers significant insight into the research objectives of the given lab, the dual–use nature of biological weapons present specific intelligence challenges which other weapon classes, even chemical and nuclear, do not. Offensive biological weapon programs typically involve both military and civilian assets, both human and veterinary institutions, and a range of military, academic, and bio-pharmaceutical institutions.[29] Some of these assets or precursors are innocuous in and of themselves, (i.e., veterinary vaccine research facilities, agricultural production lines, pharmaceutical factories, down to the very pathogens and technologies being utilized), but taken as a whole, constitute an offensive biological weapon program. It therefore may be difficult to assess, but not impossible. Moreover, it should be noted, that although the existence of a defensive biological weapons research capability would suggest interest and expertise in the field of biological weapons, it does not imply nor confirm the existence of an “offensive” biological weapons program alone. Nor does capability unequivocally equate to intent.”[30] BW programs with a ‘latent’ capacity or ‘crash’ programs which can be quickly activated are still ‘active’ sections of any BW program, particularly those which are highly compartmentalized. (deleted)

Iran’s Suspected Biological Weapon Complex and Infrastructure

Several state intelligence agencies and outside analysts have accused Iran of either attempting to develop and/or of stockpiling the following agents: bacillus anthracis, botulinium toxin, ricin, T-2 mycotoxin, and smallpox virus (Variola major).[31] It is impossible to judge with certainty the level of advancement in Iran's alleged ability to deliver biological weapons. In the past, experts accused Iran of pursuing sophisticated delivery techniques for BW agents with aircraft and Scud missiles. Reports also indicated that Iran may have attempted aerosolization of BW agents.[32] With regard to Iran’s suspected biological weapon facilities, there are unconfirmed reports which identify a number of sites as BW sites. Iran has a growing biotechnology sector that is already one of the most advanced in the developing world.[33] Iran has long been recognized as a leader in Southwest Asia in several fields, including pharmaceutical, vaccine R&D, and agricultural biotechnology.[34]

While the following facilities are noted by NTI, the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control and the National Council of Resistance of Iran, as supporting a biological weapon program, conceivably this list constitutes only a fraction of what may be far greater and clandestine network of laboratories and facilities. Only facilities with a clear biological capacity were included and suspect labs such as those with ‘End User’ designations only were not included, nor were all the subsidiary businesses and firms listed as ‘associated’ with each of these institutions. A strict interpretation of biological facilities and institution was thus taken in approaching the construction of this list and network. Had these facilities been included, they would number in the thousands.

Amir Kabir University of Technology located in Tehran, Iran. AKU is comprised of fourteen engineering departments, five research centres, and an associate university complex located in Tafresh near Tehran. In 2002, AKU and Damascus University signed a mutual scientific cooperation agreement that called for broadened scientific, educational, and research cooperation between the universities. AKU's Biomaterials Laboratory is the largest university laboratory fostering research in the area of synthesis, processing, and modification of materials for use in biological environments. This laboratory is especially active in the area of polymeric materials with the objective of modifying the physical, chemical, biological, and mechanical properties of polymeric materials to render them biocompatible. The laboratory's specific research areas include the design and processing of systems for controlled and targeted delivery of bioactive agents.[35]

Akbarieh Company, located in Tehran, Iran. Imports and distributes pharmaceutical products and medical equipment.[36]

Alnasim Control Company, location not noted. Identified by the British government in February 1998 as having procured goods and/or technology for weapons of mass destruction programs, in addition to doing non-proliferation related business.[37]

Bandaran Company, location not noted. Identified by the British government in February 1998 as having procured goods and/or technology for weapons of mass destruction programs in the bio-chem field, in addition to doing non-proliferation related business.[38]


Beasat Industrial Co., located in Tehran, Iran. Listed as an entity of concern for military procurement activities in an early warning list distributed by the German government to industry in May 2007; the German government urged caution when initiating commercial dealings with this entity, and suggested that because this entity is involved with both military and civilian projects, civilian use must be shown by specific and verifiable evidence; produces biotechnology-related equipment sold by the Defence Industries Organization (DIO - see separate entity record); manufactures medical, laboratory, and pharmaceutical products, including microbiological hoods.[39]

Biotechnology Institute of the Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology, located in Tehran, Iran. IROST established the "Culture Collection of Industrial and Infectious Microorganisms" (the Persian Type Culture Collection). The engineering group is now working to perfect production equipment, such as fermenters. The centre also coordinates the research on fermentation agents produced by the Razi Institute for Serums and Vaccines. Parts and equipment needed for the centre were imported through Dubai and Singapore. According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the Biotechnology Research Centre is one of Iran's main bodies for biological weapons production.[40] 

Caspian Tamin Pharmaceutical Company, located in Tehran, Iran. Designated by the Canadian government in July 2010 as an entity contributing to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or to its development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or their delivery systems.[41]
Persian Gulf Marine Biotechnology Research Centre, located Queshm (Qeshm) Island in the Persian Gulf. The institute provides training, research, and production facilities. The centre is guarded by the Pasdaran (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-IRGC).[42]
Darou Pakhsh Company, located in Tehran, Iran. Listed by the British government in 2008 as an entity of potential concern for WMD-related procurement, and has had export licenses both granted and denied by that government; reported producer, distributor, importer and exporter of raw pharmaceutical materials and manufactured medicine in Iran; "partners" include: Darou Pakhsh Holding, Darou Pakhsh Manufactory, Darou Pakhsh Distribution Company, Exir Pharmaceutical Company, Aburaihan Pharmaceutical Company, Razak Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Darou Pakhsh Trade Promotion Company and Zahravi Pharmaceutical Company.[43]
Defence Industries Training and Research Institute, located in Parchin, Iran. According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), affiliated with Iran's Ministry of defence; according to NCRI, formerly involved in the nuclear and biological projects of the Ministry of defence.[44]
Damghan, located approximately 375 miles to the southwest of Mashhad.  US intelligence sources suspect the facilities in Damghan launched operations in 1989 and were meant to produce agents for ballistic missile warheads. According to unconfirmed reports, Damghan is the site of a biological weapons research laboratory constructed with Russian assistance.[45]

Davar Moharek Co., located in Tehran, Iran. Designated by the Canadian government in July 2010 as an entity contributing to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or to its development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or their delivery systems; designation prohibits Canadian parties from providing goods or financial services to the entity or dealing in property held by the entity; listed by the British government in 2010 as an entity of potential concern for WMD-related procurement; provides maintenance and spare parts for gas turbines.[46]


Defence Technology and Science Research Centre (DTSRC), located in Tehran, Iran. The German government in 2005, noted that the DTSRC was mainly civilian institution which also conducts military research and development, posing a risk of scientific facilities being misused as cover addresses for military imports, and as an organization involved in the procurement of biotechnology equipment potentially useful in biological weapons production; identified by the British government (as ERI) in February 1998 as having procured goods and/or technology for weapons of mass destruction programs, in "addition to doing non-proliferation related business;" reportedly included (as ERI) in a February 1994 German Federal Ministry of Research and Technology (BMFT) list of entities which, "because of harmless-sounding appellations having to do with research, training, or science, belie the fact that they are wholly or in part devoted to military projects, and are engaged in procurement activities for these projects, with the aim of supplying know-how, equipment, or materials".[47]
Tehran University Institute for Biochemistry and Biophysics Research (IBB) is located in Tehran, Iran. It has 15 laboratories: Biochemistry, Biophysical Chemistry, Biophysics, Biomaterials, Bio-Organics, Cell Research, Cytogenetics, Electrophysiology, Electron Microscopy, Genetic Engineering, Immunology, Micro-Analysis, Molecular Biology, Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules, and Tissue Repair. Although, there is no evidence to link IBB to WMD research and production, some people suspect that BW research is being carried out throughout Iran in laboratories associated with Iranian universities like this one. The Tehran University of Medicine works in close cooperation with the Razi Institute for Serums and Vaccines, another suspected BW research centre. [48]
Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), located in Tehran, Iran. Listed by the Japanese government in 2007 as an entity of concern for proliferation related to biological and chemical weapons; identified by the British government in February 1998 as having procured goods and/or technology for weapons of mass destruction programs (specifically biological), in "addition to doing non-proliferation related business."[49]
Industrial Development Group, location noted as ‘Iran.’ Listed by the German government in an early warning document distributed to industry in May 2007 as an entity of concern for military procurement and procurement of dual-use biotechnology equipment; the German government urged caution when initiating commercial dealings with this entity, and suggested that all purchases by this entity must be assumed to serve military aims unless the contrary can be shown by specific and verifiable means.[50]
Institute for Pestilence and Plant Disease Research, location, Tehran, Iran.
Situated on a 32-hectare estate in Tehran, the institute's buildings are more than 2,200 square meters in area with 12 separate units. Throughout the provinces, the institute has 28 research departments and 5 laboratories. Between 1961 and 1981, the institute established provincial units in Tabriz, Urmia, Bandar-e Enzeli, Tonokabon, Gorgan, Mashhad, Varamin, Esfahan, Shiraz, Bandar Abbas, Rafsanjan, Sabzevaran, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, and Karaj.
The institute's research topics include the following:
  • the biology, ecology, and physiology of agricultural pests,
  • the genes responsible for the production of insecticide toxins for the biological control of agricultural pestilence and disease,
  • biological resistance in plants,
  • formulation, effects, and residues of agricultural poisons,
  • techniques of spraying and testing new poisons,
  • the effects on cultivation and ecosystems when they are introduced to agricultural pestilence and disease,
  • mycotoxins (to preserve crop yields),
  • the production of antiserums and plant viruses and the creation of an antiserum bank, and
It should be noted that while none of these activities are different than agricultural research being conducted at universities throughout the United States, all of these activities could be useful for a BW program.[51]
Institute for Plant and Seed Modification Research, located in Karaj, Iran. There are eight research divisions in Karaj, and more than 80 research facilities nationwide. The primary goals of this institution are to address problems related to agriculture. The Institute has specifically established a biotechnology department to conduct research on genetic transformation in major crops, genetic analysis, and transfer of desirable genes into desirable agronomic backgrounds.[52]
Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology, located in Tehran, Iran. IROST, includes seven research departments (electrical and computer, biotechnology, chemical, mechanical, agriculture, materials and metallurgy, and the department of technical development studies). In addition, IROST also maintains research centres in Arak (a research centre and an industrial centre), Esfahan, Tabriz, Shahrood, Shiraz, Kerman, Gilan, and Mashhad. IROST was established in 1980.[53]
Iran Sanitary & Industrial Valve (ISIV) Co., located in Tehran, Iran. Designated by the Canadian government in July 2010 as an entity contributing to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or to its development of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons or their delivery systems.[54]
Marestan, located in Tehran, Iran. Identified by the British government in February 1998 as having procured goods and/or technology for weapons of mass destruction programs, in addition to doing non-proliferation related business. [55]
Malek Ashtar University, located in Isfahan, Iran. According to the NCRI, Dr. Teimourian, head of the chemical group at the university, works with Abbas Soliemani, an engineer, and Dr. Nasser Ehsani on mixing beryllium with Polonium 210 for a neutron initiator; according to the NCRI, a biological weapons centre formed by Iran's Ministry of Defence to conduct research on biological weapons; according to the NCRI, carries out genetic cloning, led by Dr. Maqsudi, head of the Centre for Scientific and Growth Technology; according to the NCRI, cloning project based in the Lavizan-Shian Technological Research Centre; reportedly, according to the NCRI, houses the Centre for Genetic Biotechnology and Engineering Research (Research Centre for Genetic Biotechnology), a key facility in Iran's bioweapons program.[56]
Research Centre of the Construction Crusade (Jihad-e Sazandegi), located in Tehran, Iran. The entire Ministry has twelve different divisions and a number of organizations, directorates, offices, and companies. Research centres were established in 20 provinces throughout the country. According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, there are four affiliated research institutes in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, and Mashhad that are involved in biological weapons research and production. According to reports by US experts and Israeli sources, the facility near Tabriz is being used to store stocks of bacillus anthracis and botulinum toxin. The National Council of Resistance of Iran reports that the Research Centre is manufacturing an advanced fermenter designed by its scientists. Directly accountable to the Majlis, the Minister of Jihad-e Sazandegi (Minister of Construction Jihad) is a member of the President of Iran's cabinet.[57] [Cabinet Ministers are administratively accountable to the President in Iran but ultimately to the Supreme Leader – but not to the Majlis (parliament).]
National Research Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (NRCGEB), located sixteen km west of Tehran.  The centre conducts research in biotechnology and the biological sciences. Other labs, research centres and universities in Iran outsource work on DNA primer synthesis, protein sequencing, freeze-drying and glass blowing to the centre. A series of basic and applied research projects have been funded in molecular biology and biotechnology. Current projects include biotechnological production of protein-based drugs; production of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies; Molecular genetics studies; and Studies on the agricultural applications of biotechnology. Of particular interest are the NRCGEB's:
  • Creation of a cell bank, as well as the production and storing of cell lines;
  • Evaluation of a recombinant DNA hepatitis B vaccine;
  • Product design and production of recombinant growth hormone; and
  • Work to create a recombinant hepatitis C vaccine.
The centre also offers workshops on gene expression in prokaryotic cells, molecular biology, recombinant DNA, the use of computers in genetic engineering and molecular biology, gene copying, translation of mRNA, protein synthesis, high volume protein purification, gene transmission and expression, gene expression in eukaryotic cells, and the molecular analysis of gene products. The Centre’s laboratories consist of two main laboratory rooms, cell and bacterial culture rooms, cold and warm rooms, dark room and photographic lab, washing and sterilization room, and centrifuge centre. Also at the centre are an animal house, a green house, and a computer room. Two other main laboratories and other facilities are under construction.
The laboratories are equipped with advanced equipment for research in genetic engineering and biotechnology, including a DNA synthesizer, a DNA extractor, chromatographic systems, a protein sequencer, orbital shakers, incubators, a PCR machine, incubator shakers, a lyophilizer (freeze-dryer), fermenters, centrifuges, a culture propagation system, microfuges, a spectrophotometer, a gel-scanning system, an ultracentrifuge, instruments for DNA sequence spectroscopy, a spectroscope, a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) electrophorus, and -C 70° and -C 20° freezers. Currently underway is a pilot plan for a workstation to study recombinant proteins. The workstation equipment consists of a homogenizer, fermenters, centrifuges, preparative chromatography columns, ultrafilters, freezers, cold and warm rooms, and specialized tanks for the preparation of buffers and culture media.[58]
Pasteur Institute, located at the Iranian Science Centre for Biotechnology and Molecular Biology in Tehran, Iran. The Institute was established in 1920-21 as a primary centre for researching infectious diseases and producing biological products, vaccines, and serums. A vaccine for pox was the first product of the Institute. In 1993-94, Cuba and Iran signed a biotechnology transfer agreement that brought Cuba's recombinant DNA hepatitis B vaccine industrial production equipment to the Pasteur institute. Once the production unit is up and running (five sections, 14,000 square meters), the Pasteur institute will be able to produce 10 million hepatitis B vaccine doses per year. This institute is the only one of its kind in Iran capable of producing new biotechnology products in an industrial capacity.
The Pasteur institute is involved in the development of new vaccines; vaccine production; research in microbiology, biochemistry, virology, medicine and epidemiology; teaching; and post-graduate training. For organizational purposes the institute is split among its production, support, and research departments. The 16 research departments at the institute's Tehran facilities focus on biotechnology, biochemistry, infectious disease, microbiology, and immunology. The institute also teaches in these fields. At its production facility along the Tehran-Karaj highway, the institute prepares biological products, serums, and vaccines. Examples of the vaccines produced there include BCG, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis B, and livestock anti-rabies vaccines. The institute also produces tuberculin solutions and injection serums, anti-serums, culture mediums, and an HIV diagnostic kit. The institute is currently working on a new generation of vaccines for hepatitis and leishmaniasis.[59]
Persian Type Culture Collection, located in Tehran, Iran,  supplies Cultures to research, industrial, hospital, and educational laboratories, although the Biotechnology Institute reserves the right to refuse requests. The PTCC does maintain a significant collection of bacteria and fungi that could be used in a biological warfare (BW) program. For instance, the PTCC maintains cultures of Bacillus anthracis and Yersinia pestis—both of which have been weaponized by other countries in the past. The PTCC also maintains cultures of Bacillus cereus, Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Salmonella paratyphi, Vibrio cholarae, Yersinia enterocolitica, Salmonella typhimurium, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella boydii, Shigella blexneri, and Cryptococcus neoformans. PTCC maintains cultures of Bacillus subtilis, Serratia marcescens, and Bacillus thuringiensis. While these agents are not dangerous to humans, they have been used in bioweapons programs in other countries in the past to simulate biological weapons. For instance, B. thuringiensis is very similar to B. anthracis and has been used by other countries to perfect the equipment and techniques necessary to produce and disseminate it. The first project undertaken by IROST appears to have been the cultivation, pilot production, and dissemination of B. thuringiensis. The technologies used for this project would have been directly applicable to the cultivation, production, and dissemination of B. anthracis.[60]
In addition to these programs, the Agricultural Biotechnology department also has conducted significant research on species of Fusarium, fungi that attack wheat crops and produce T-2 and other trichothecene mycotoxins. In 1988 and 1989, Iranian scientists contacted Canadian and Dutch research institutes in an effort to purchase strains of fusaria. These efforts were blocked by the Canadian and Dutch governments for fear that Iran may have planned on using the fungi to develop T-2 mycotoxin for a BW program.[1] In the years following these attempts, Russian and US intelligence speculated that Iran maintained an active BW program focused on the development of mycotoxins.[2] However, it is unclear if these speculations were solely an extrapolation from the 1989 Canadian and Dutch purchase attempts or if the allegations rely on other classified intelligence.[61]
Revolutionary Guards Baqiyatollah Research Centre, location not noted.  According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a Revolutionary Guards Genetic Engineering Centre, affiliated with the Guards Baqiyatollah Hospital, which works on biological weapons; according to the NCRI, headed by Dr. Karami, a member of the Guards Corps Imam Hussein University’s Scientific Staff who has been working on biological weapons for 18 years.[62]
Razi Institute for Serums and Vaccines, located in Karaj, Iran. The Institute is considered Iran's leading centre for biological research and production. It manufactures 21 human and veterinary vaccines in commercial quantities and several other biological substances. The Institute exports human and animal vaccines to more than 16 countries (mostly Moslem countries) as part of Iran's humanitarian aid program. According to the director of the Institute, it produces 1.7 billion doses of 57 types of vaccines, serums, and antigens annually. The department is currently attempting to create recombinant vaccines through genetic engineering, as well as develop antigens and diagnostic kits for medical and veterinary labs.  For vaccine production, the Institute uses locally produced fermenters. The National Council of Resistance of Iran claims that there is a biological research centre at the Razi Institute, which is capable of producing “at least three microbes, useful for germ and biological warfare."[63]
Sharif University of Technology Biochemical and Bioenvironmental Engineering Research Centre, located in Tehran, Iran. The Biochemical and Bioenvironmental Engineering Research Centre has three main functions:
  1. production of organic acids, amino acids, industrial enzymes, and single cell proteins in quantities ranging from lab to semi-industrial use,
  2. biotechnology research, and
  3. Graduate-level education in various areas of biotechnology.
Although there is little evidence to link the centre to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) research and development, many in the West suspect that biological warfare research is being carried out throughout Iran in laboratories associated with Iranian universities like this one. Middle East Defence News reports that Sharif University of Technology has been used as a front company to purchase the following equipment from the United States for its WMD programs: precision measuring instruments from Leybold Inficon Inc, radio spectrum analysers from Kay Elemetrics Corp., VAX Computers from Digital Equipment Corp., and precision instruments for its nuclear engineering department from Canberra Industries, Inc. The centre cooperates closely with universities and research centres throughout the country, including Amir Kabir University, Tehran University's Technical College and College of Sciences, the National Centre for Genetic Research, the Pasteur Institute, and the Razi Institute for Serums and Vaccines.[64]
Science and Technology Group, location Tehran, Iran. The Science and Technology Group (STG) allegedly oversee Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) states that this group of the president's advisors "...oversees the regime's plans and projects in the area of biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons.” NCRI claims that under the supervision of the Science and Technology Group, Iran's ruling mullah's have:
  • formed the Revolutionary Guards’' 24th Bessat Brigade for Chemical Attacks;
  • stockpiled huge quantities of nerve agents;
  • expanded biotechnology research centres and the NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) Special Industries Organization;
  • hired Chinese, Korean, and Russian experts under cover of research projects, and;
  • procured the required materials and technology from European countries through the use of dual-use technology.
The NCRI claims that beneath the STG are four sections: the Defence Ministry's Special Industries Organization, the Jihad Construction Research Centre, the Revolutionary Guards' study centre at the Imam Hoseyn University, and the Biotechnology Research Centre. The National Council of Resistance on Iran reports that in only one branch of the STG, the regime has already developed three biological agents—VX (though in fact a chemical agent), aflatoxin, and Bacillus anthracis—with the help of at least 18 Russian, Chinese, and Korean experts. The same source believes there are many more individuals working on these projects.[65]
Samamicro Co., located in Tehran, Iran. Listed by the British government in 2008 as an entity of potential concern for WMD-related procurement; listed by the Japanese government in 2008 as an entity of concern for proliferation relating to missiles and biological weapons; seeks to import dual-use biotechnology equipment, according to an early warning document distributed by the German government to industry in July 2005; may be the same as Samamicro Ltd., which was listed in the same document as an entity of concern for missile procurement activities.
Distributes and services laboratory and research equipment from Western manufacturers, including atomic absorption equipment, FTIR spectrometers, chromatography, balances, cold, thermostatic, climatic and plant growth chambers, particle size analysers, fermentation systems, freeze dryers, centrifuges, shakers, incubators, and glass chemical process units; distributes and services testing and measurement products from Western manufacturers, including quality control and calibration labs, complete piezoelectric systems, stress screening test chambers, thermal shock test chambers, high pressure and high humidity test chambers, laser imaging systems such as high speed cameras, power and energy meters, cutting machines, mounting presses, polishing and grinding machines, and hardness testers; managing director is Abbas Pour Tehrani Fard - Vahid and commercial manager is Abolghasemi - Mohsen. [66]
Scientific Medical Technology LLC, location Iran. Listed by the British government in 2008 as an entity of potential concern for WMD-related procurement.[67]
Special Industries Organization (SIO), located in Tehran, Iran. Reports published in Russia, apparently based on information developed by the Russian Federal Security Service, claim the organization is located at the Gostaresh Research Centre northeast of Tehran. A report claimed the SIO was set up by President Rafsanjani as a 250-man agency within the Presidential Services in 1993 to develop chemical weapons. This agency is independent of the Council of Ministers.
The SIO oversees and coordinates various scientific programs. The Biological Research Centre is the branch dedicated to biological weapons development. The Laboratory, also located in Tehran, is another branch of the Organization.[2] Camouflaged by trees, facilities known as Shahid Meisam were reportedly built alongside the Tehran-Karaj expressway as storage sites for artillery shells filled with chemical products en route to Revolutionary Guard units. Due to lax safety measures, a number of the 1,000 workers in the storage facilities are said to have fallen ill and died. Dr. Abbas Pour, one of the president's advisors and the head of the Vira Laboratory, was named head of SIO. Dr. Gholamhossein Riazi heads the fermenter project. According to the NCRI, the project has succeeded in producing several fermenters with a capacity of more than 100 litres.[3] Brigadier General Mohammad Fa'ezi, head of the Special Industry Training Centre, is said to be in charge of handling the affairs of the foreign specialists who have been recruited to work on Iran's biological warfare program.
Two Swiss firms, Bio Engineering (a subsidiary of Bayer AG) and MBR Company, had been selling fermenters to Iran in the 1990s that were claimed to be entirely for civilian use. Company officials insisted that the Iranian purchasers were the Ministry of Agriculture and an entity they identified as MIDSPGIC Co. However, the People's Mujahadin of Iran (PMOI) claimed that MIDSPGIC is an abbreviation for the Special Industries Organization of the Defence Ministry. Bio Engineering was attacked two times in 1992, once at its office outside of Zurich (apparently by a terrorist group) and once at its Munich-based delivery company. Equipment destroyed in the attacks included a 15-liter lab fermenter and a 750 production fermenter, similar to those used by Iraq for its BW program.[68]
Vira Laboratory located in Tehran.  Also known under the name of Sina Industries it operates ostensibly focusing on agriculture and medical research, but actually its main function seems to be as the chemical laboratory of the Defence Ministry Special Industries Organisation.[69]
Shifa Pharmed Industrial Group Company, located in Tehran, Iran.   Designated by the Canadian government in July 2010 as an entity contributing to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or to its development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or their delivery systems; listed by the Japanese government in 2010 as an entity of concern for proliferation relating to biological and chemical weapons; an entity that seeks to import dual-use biotechnology equipment, according to an early warning document distributed by the German government to industry in September 2007; manufactures antibiotics, including erythromycin ethyl succinate, azithromycin, clarithromycin, and roxithromycin.[70]
Sina Industry located in Tehran, Iran. According NCRI, "one of the most important biological and chemical laboratories of the Iranian regime"; Sina Industries is also associated with Vira Laboratory; uses medical research as a cover for its biological weapons activities; controlled by the Organization of Special Industry (Special Industries Group), which is a subsidiary of Iran's Defense Industries Organization (DIO) (see separate entity records); reportedly has conducted a research program on producing mycotoxins; reportedly has worked on producing soil-contaminating microbes that would attack agriculture; reportedly has conducted animal testing; according to the NCRI, headed by Dr. Yousefi.[71]
Sina Darou Laboratories Company, located in Tehran, Iran. Designated by the Canadian government in July 2010 as an entity contributing to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or to its development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or their delivery systems; designation prohibits Canadian parties from providing goods or financial services to the entity or dealing in property held by the entity; produces pharmaceutical products, including inhalation aerosols; formerly known as Dopar Pharmaceutical Company; established in 1962.[72]
Sohban Pharmaceutical Co., located in Tehran, Iran. Designated by the Canadian government in July 2010 as an entity contributing to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or to its development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or their delivery systems; listed as an entity that seeks to import dual-use biotechnology equipment in an early warning document distributed by the German government to industry in July 2005, but was not re-listed in 2007; develops and produces pharmaceutical products; a subsidiary of Alborz Holding; established in 2004.[73]
Conclusion
“In the past 40 years, the intelligence community has had difficulty assessing intentions of hostile nations, but has had considerably better success in accessing capabilities. In the 21st Century, assessing capabilities may become as difficult as assessing intentions. Even after four years of the most intrusive arms control inspections ever implemented, the United Nations Special Commission did not learn of Iraq's extensive BW program until a key official (Saddam's son-in-law) defected. Likewise, the International Atomic Energy Agency had certified Iraq to be in compliance with all treaties and guidelines just months before its invasion of Kuwait. Following the Gulf War, a UN inspection team discovered that Iraq was well down the road to becoming a nuclear power. The disturbing result of its discovery was that Iraq was not building one or two nuclear weapons; the Iraqi program was designed to build more than 100.”[74]
Quds Force's ranks are believed to comprise the cream of Iran's elite operations and intelligence officers. Photo / AP
Quds Force's ranks are believed to comprise the cream of Iran's elite operations and intelligence officers. Photo / AP

As expected, Iran’s biological weapon complex is far more scientifically advanced and sophisticated than Iraq’s was at the time of the Gulf War. The structure of Iran’s BW Complex incorporates the primary structure utilized by Biopreparat, however it has improved on Biopreparat in the sense that it retains a highly flexible structure, which appears to make it impervious to ‘end-user’ designations or sanctions aimed at curbing proliferation. If one considers the core infrastructure to be well established sites such as academia, military instillations, pharmaceutical institutions, there remains, what appears to be a deliberate and dedicated structure established on the periphery which supports the BW complex but is not necessarily permanent. Some evidence suggests that suppliers and subsidiary firms and institutions may only be used once or twice and not retained. It further appears that this structure insulates the BW complex from sanctions and end-user designations.  As the IRGC oversees IROST, any given firm may be designated to acquire specific data, equipment; pathogens etc. do it once and never procure another piece of equipment or pathogenic agents again. That type of flexibility makes it an exceptional program. Western intelligence services are less capable of countering the threat posed by this weapon complex, than that of Gulf War period Iraq. This is partially due to Iran’s infrastructure, partially to advances in weapon development (i.e,. synthetic biology and dispersal technologies) and partially due to strict oversight of the programs by the IRGC.  While the infrastructure reflects that of the former Soviet Biopreparat program, perhaps of far greater concern is the role of the IRGC and Quds Forces.[75] 

The IRGC has close ties to the foreign operations branch of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).[76] According to Anthony Cordesman,

“The Ministry of Intelligence and Security was established in 1983 and has an extensive network of offices in Iranian embassies. It is often difficult to separate the activities of the IRGC, the Vezarat-e Ettela’at va Amniat-e Keshvar, and the Foreign Ministry, and many seem to be integrated operations managed by a ministerial committee called the “Special Operations Council” that includes the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, President, Minister of Intelligence and Security, and other members of the Supreme Council for National Defense. Other elements of the IRGC can support proxy or covert use of CBRN weapons. They run some training camps inside Iran for outside “volunteers.” Some IRGC still seem to be deployed in Lebanon and actively involved in training and arming Hezbollah, other anti-Israeli groups, and other elements. The IRGC has been responsible for major arms shipments to Hezbollah. The IRGC plays a major role in Iran’s military industries. Its lead role in Iran’s efforts to acquire surface-to-surface missiles and weapons of mass destruction gives it growing experience with advanced military technology. As a result, the IRGC is believed to be the branch of Iran’s forces that plays the largest role in Iran’s military industries. The Quds seems to control many of Iran’s training camps for unconventional warfare, extremists, and terrorists in Iran and countries like the Sudan and Lebanon. In Sudan, the Quds are believed to run a training camp of unspecified nature. Troops are trained to carry out military and terrorist operations and are indoctrinated in ideology.”[77]

With respect to Iran’s BW complex, the role of these elite forces is critical to understand in the same way that KGB control of the Soviet program was—and for the same reasons. The IRGC controls not only Iran’s nuclear complex, but its bio and chem programs as well as the Iranian missile delivery systems, making Iran’s BW complex far more dangerous than that of other nations suspected of developing BW.  Of specific and perhaps unique concern regarding Iran’s BW complex are the extraterritorial activities of the Quds Force. The Quds Force is directly tasked with liaison, training, funding, arming and logistics, among a range of other responsibilities related to Iran’s terror network which include, but are not limited to, support for al-Qa’eda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and terror networks in Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and a host of other nations. While the Quds Force operates primarily abroad, it is subordinate to and at least nominally under the command and control of the IRGC high command in Iran. Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani also enjoys a direct, personal relationship of trust with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as does the IRGC Commander, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari. While the Quds Force operates primarily abroad, the domestically-based IRGC network within Iran’s universities, labs, vaccine and pharmaceutical facilities, etc., develops Iran’s BW programs. While Iran is not known to have transferred WMD to any terrorist group yet, the closeness of its relationships with both al-Qa’eda and Hezbollah, as well as the existence of complex delivery channels for other weapons, including advanced rockets and missiles to Hezbollah, and sophisticated IEDs and EFPs to both Shi’ite and Sunni terror militias in Afghanistan and Iraq, give plenty of cause for concern. Al-Qa’eda has made no secret of its long quest for WMD and Hezbollah has received virtually every other advanced weapons system Iran has ever possessed. Were Iran to take the decision to share its BW or other WMD capability with either al-Qa’eda or Hezbollah, it is likely it would be the Quds Force that would be given responsibility to deliver it, as it already does other weaponry which the Supreme Leader Khamenei decides to provide it to designated terror organizations.

Biological weapons are the ultimate deniable weapon and it would not be unreasonable to consider that the Quds Force or other trained proxy forces (such as Hezbollah) could break out and deploy biological weapons either in conjunction with conventional advanced weaponry, or in covert operations, against western targets.”[78] Iran’s clandestine biological weapon complex, and its oversight by the IRGC, in addition to Iran’s support of state organized, proxy terrorist groups, make its bio-weapon programs potentially lethally dangerous in the current highly-charged geo-strategic environment.

Iran’s BW programs are exceptionally well-embedded within an extensive architecture of legitimate research, industry, and academic infrastructure.  Future biological weapon programs will require far more sophisticated interdiction techniques and a critical review of the criteria necessary to identify infrastructures associated with such programs; specifically, when such identification must generally occur in a remote or stand-off environment. “In the British and American context, the failure of the Iraq Survey Group to find Saddam’s much vaunted secret laboratories, or his stockpiles of WMD, highlights the weaknesses of conventional collection methods [ ][79].” Future inspection regimes must draw on the failures of the Iraq Survey Group and successive UN missions (UNMOVIC and UNSCOM). Unfortunately, rapid advances in the life sciences are likely to enable, not inhibit, evasion of detection and interdiction technologies—a fact that will not go unnoticed by Iran’s IRGC and Qods Force.








[1]Alexander, 192; Mangold and Goldberg, 158-63. From, Ainscough, Michael J., Next Generation Bioweapons, The Gathering Biological Warfare Storm, (eds.) Col. Dr. Jim A. Davis and Dr. Barry R. Schneider, USAF Counter Proliferation Centre, Air War College, Air University, Maxwell Air force Base, Alabama, March, 2002. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/cpc-pubs/biostorm/front.pdf
[2]http://www.scottcamazine.com/photos/Anthrax/pages/02anthrax_jpg.htm
[3]Technical and other methods utilized for assessment criteria, which may fall outside the public domain has been excluded from this review.  
[4]Da Silva, Edgar J., “Biological warfare, bioterrorism, biodefence and the biological and toxin weapons convention”, Electronic Journal of Bio-technology, Vol.2, No.3, 15, December 1999. http://www.ejbiotechnology.info/content/vol2/issue3/full/2/index.html
[5]Under the Biological Toxin and Weapon Convention, ‘defensive’ weapon research is allowed, while ‘offensive’ is illegal. The BWC bans: The development, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, and production of: 1.Biological agents and toxins "of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes;" 2.Weapons, equipment, and delivery vehicles "designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict." The transfer of or assistance with acquiring the agents, toxins, weapons, equipment, and delivery vehicles described above.  “The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) at a Glance”, Arms Control Association, http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/bwc


[6]A Reporter at Large, “The Demon in the Freezer, How smallpox, a disease officially eradicated twenty years ago, became the biggest bioterrorist threat we now face”, Richard Preston. http://mcdb.colorado.edu/courses/4350.2006/Biowarfare/The%20Demon%20in%20the%20Freezer.pdf
[7]Guillemin, Jeanne, “Scientists and the History of Biological Weapons”, EBMO Reports, Vol.7, 2006. http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v7/n1s/full/7400689.html 
[8] Bozheyeva, Gulbarshyn, Kunakbayev, Yerlan and Dastan Yeleukenov, “Former Soviet Biological Weapons Facilities in Kazakhstan: Past, Present and Future”, Occasional Paper No.1, Chemical and Biological Weapons Non-Proliferation Project, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, June, 1999. http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op1/op1.htm#bioprep
[9]Ibid.
[10]National Reconnaissance Office.
[11]Bozheyeva, Gulbarshyn, Kunakbayev, Yerlan and Dastan Yeleukenov, “Former Soviet Biological Weapons Facilities in Kazakhstan: Past, Present and Future”, Occasional Paper No.1, Chemical and Biological Weapons Non-Proliferation Project, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, June, 1999. http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op1/op1.htm#bioprep
[12]Ibid.
[13]A Reporter at Large, “The Demon in the Freezer, How Smallpox, a disease officially eradicated twenty years ago, became the biggest bioterrorist threat we now face”, Richard Preston. http://mcdb.colorado.edu/courses/4350.2006/Biowarfare/The%20Demon%20in%20the%20Freezer.pdf
[14]Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defence, and the Senate Select  Committee on Intelligence, Source: http://www.odci.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/2003/david_kay_10022003.html
[15]Da Silva, Edgar, J., “Biological warfare, bioterrorism, biodefence and the biological and toxin weapons convention”, Electronic Journal of Biotechnology, Vol.2, No.3, 15, December, 1999.
http://www.ejbiotechnology.info/content/vol2/issue3/full/2/index.html
[16]Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defence, and the Senate Select  Committee on Intelligence, Source: http://www.odci.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/2003/david_kay_10022003.html
[17]Col. Marco Hekkens, NLMARFOR.
[18]Pike, John, “Biological Warfare Agent Production”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, GlobalSecurity.Org.  http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/bio_production.htm 
[19]Ibid.
[20]Ibid.
[21]Ibid.
[22]Ibid.
[23]Ibid.
[24]Ibid.
[25]Ibid.
[26]Ibid.
[27]Ibid.
[28]Ibid.
[29]It should be noted that with the exception of variola major (smallpox), most Category A pathogenic agents suitable for warfare are zoonotic.
[30]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Syria Profile, , James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies,  September, 2009.  http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Syria/Biological/index.html
[31]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html
[32]"Biological Warfare: The Poor Man's Atomic Bomb-Iran," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1, March 1999. 
[33]Office of the Secretary of Defence, Proliferation: Threat and Response, U.S. Department of Defence, January, 2001, pp. 33-35. http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/prolif00.pdf 
[34] NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html
[35]Ibid.

[36]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Akbarieh Company”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 1, January, 2010, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/akbarieh-company.htm

[37]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Alnasim Control Company”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/alnasim-control-company.html
[38]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Bandaran Company”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C.  http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/bandaran-company.html
[39]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Beasat Industrial Co.”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 3, September, 2010, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/beasat-industrial-co.html
[40]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html

[41]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Caspian Tamin Pharmaceutical Company”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 1, January, 2010, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/caspian-tamin-pharmaceutical-company.html

[42]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html 
[43]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Darou Pakhsh Company”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 31, October, 2008, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/darou-pakhsh-company.html
[44]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Defence Industries Training and Research Institute”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 12 May, 2009, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/defence-industries-training-and-research-institute.htm
[45]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html 
[46]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Davar Moharek Co.”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 1, March, 2011, Washington D.C.  http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/darou-pakhsh-company.html  
[47]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Defence Technology and Science Research Center (DTSRC)”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/defense-technology-and-science-research-center-%28dtsrc%29.html   
[48]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html 
[49]Iran Watch, “Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS)”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/tehran-university-of-medical-sciences-%28tums%29.html
[50]Iran Watch, “Iranian Entity: Industrial Development Group”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/industrial-development-group-%28tehran%29.html
[51]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html 
[52] Ibid.
[53]Ibid.
[54]Iran Watch, “Iran Sanitary & Industrial Valve (ISIV) Co.”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 2, March, 2011, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/iran-sanitary-industrial-valve-isiv-co.html  
[55]Iran Watch, “Marestan”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/marestan.html
[56]Iran Watch, “Malek Ashtar University”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/malek-ashtar-university.html
[57]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html 
[58]Ibid.
[59]Ibid.
[60]Ibid.
[61]Ibid.
[62]Iran Watch, “Revolutionary Guards Baqiyatollah Research Centre”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 26, January, 2004, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/revolutionary-guards-baqiyatollah-research-center.html
[63]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html 

[64]Ibid.
[65]Ibid.
[66]Iran Watch, “Samamicro Co.”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 16, January, 2008, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/samamicro.html
[67]Iran Watch, “Scientific Medical Technology LLC”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 30, June, 2008, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/scientific-medical-technology-llc.html
[68]NTI, “Biological Overview”, Iran Profile, James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, June, 2011. http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Iran/Biological/index.html  
[69]Eshel, David, “Iran’s National Deterrent Weapons of Mass Destruction Program”, Defence Update News Analysis by David Eshel, 4, April, 2004. http://defense-update.com/2004/04/irans-national-deterrent-weapons-of.html
[70]Iran Watch, “Shifa Pharmed Industrial Group”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 2, March, 2011, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/shifa-pharmed-industrial-group-company.htm
[71]Iran Watch, “Sina Industry”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 31 August, 2009, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/sina-industry.html
[72]Iran Watch, “Sina Darou Laboratories Company”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 1 November, 2010, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/sina-darou-laboratories-company.html
[73]Iran Watch, “Sohban Pharmaceutical Co.”, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Date Entered, 2, May, 2011, Washington D.C. http://www.iranwatch.org/suspect/records/sohban-pharmaceutical-co.htm
[74]The National War College, Elective Course 5994, Homeland Security, Fall 2002. http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/edu/nwc.pdf 

[75]The Quds Force - with between 5000 and 15,000 agents and field tacticians by various estimates - sits atop the vast military and industrial network of the Revolutionary Guard, the defenders of Iran's ruling clerics. The Guard effectively has a blank cheque. It controls most major programmes - including nuclear, missile development and biological and chemical weapon programs - as well as a millions strong paramilitary corps known as the Basiji.  Quds Force's ranks are believed to comprise the cream of Iran's elite operations and intelligence officers. Brian Murphy, “Plot claims cast light on Iran’s shadowy strike force”, NZHerald.co.nz, 15, October, 2011. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10759181

[76]Cordesman, Anthony, H., “Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Al Quds Force, and Other Intelligence and Paramilitary Forces”, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C., 16, August, 2007, http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/070816_cordesman_report.pdf
[77]Ibid.
[78] Ibid.
[79]Kouzminov, Alexander, “Biological Espionage: Special Operations of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Intelligence Services in the West”, Greenhill Books, London, UK, 2005. 


Copyright Warfare Technology Analytics

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.