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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Biological Weapons

In 2008 the US Congressional Research Service reported that unclassified sources indicated that several nations were considered, with varying degrees of certainty, to have some BW capability, including China, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, and Syria.

According to the Department of Defense, Iran "is conducting research on toxins and organisms with biological warfare applications." [Office of the Secretary of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response (Washington: Government Printing Office, April 1996), p. 16.] According to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Iran probably has produced biological warfare agents and apparently has weaponized a small quantity of those agents. [Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, May 1996] The US Defense Department's Annual Report on Military Power of Iran April 2012 made not mention of these capabilties.

Iran is believed to have begun offensive biological warfare research during the Iran-Iraq War. The intensity of these efforts has probably increased because of the 1995 revelations about the scale of Iraqi efforts prior to the Gulf War. The relative low cost of developing these weapons may be another motivating factor.

Iran has ratified the Biological Weapons Convention.

Iran's biological warfare program was believed to generally be in the advanced research and development phase. Iran has qualified, highly trained scientists and considerable expertise with pharmaceuticals. It also possesses the commercial and military infrastructure needed to produce basic biological warfare agents and may have produced pilot quantities of usable agent. Iran is judged to be able to support an independent BW program with little foreign assistance (although some foreign BW expertise, especially from Russia, is flowing to Iran). It is reported that the country has collocated a BW lab near its CW production facilities at Damghan. The Iranians have considerable expertise with pharmaceuticals, as well as the commercial and military infrastructure needed to produce basic biological warfare agents. Iran also can make some of the hardware needed to manufacture agents.

Iran has most likely investigated both toxins and live organisms as BW agents, produced some agents, and probably weaponized a small quantity of its production. It is possible that Iran has developed a small BW arsenal that could be delivered by a variety of systems. While only small quantities of usable agent may exist now, within 10 years, Iran's military forces may be able to deliver biological agents effectively.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 10-04-2014 19:02:37 ZULU