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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


According to reports published in Russia, apparently based on information developed by the Russian Federal Security Service, Parchin, 30 kilometers south-west of Tehran, was the site for the implementation of a variety of defense projects. Parchin was the center of the Defense Industries Organization's (DIO) chemical industry (production of explosives, fuel, etc.), and, possibly, the home of the main producers of the Oghab and Nazeat missiles.

Parchin Chemical Factories (PCF)

A small arms and ammunition plant at Parchin was established in 1939, and was in operation since before the Second World War. Very little solid information was available about the post-Revolutionary Iranian arms industry. On 25 August 1999 Iran's Defense Ministry opened a new chemical factory capable of producing previously imported explosives. The new factory, with a production capacity of two tons per day, opened in the presence of Defense Minister Vice-Admiral Ali Shamkhani in the Parchin Chemical Complex.

Sazemane Sanaye Defa, also called "SASAD," was one of the largest and the most important industrial organizations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which was capable of production and export of multi-purpose defense and civil products and services.

Parchin Chemical Factories (PCF), the Chemical Industries Groupd of SASAD, was equiped with modern technology and had more than half century of experience in producing various commercial explosives such as: gelationous Dynamite, powder explosive, emulsion explosive, detonating cord, safety fuses, and Hunting powder. It also produced chemical material such as: industrial nitrocellulose, alfa cellulose, medical-industrial Alcohol, pure-industrial sulfuric acid, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, nitric acid, laborartory sulfuric acid, dinitro toluene (DNT), diethyl ether, antifreeze, ethyl acetate, and carboxy methyl cellulose (CMC).

Parchin Chemical Factories also made slurry explosive, which was classified in the emulsion material group. Slurry contains ammoniun nitrate, sodium nitrate and TNT with gum base. Four different types of slurries were produced to be used in mines contain water and have big hole bore. Slurry is a very good water resistant explosive. It is gelatinous and its viscosity is high, therefore it can be pumped very easily. Slurry was available from Parchin both packed and in bulk. Its power against different stones is appropiate and changable. As slurry does not contain nitroglycerine, there are no associated problems for the user. Slurry is quite safe and resistant against normal fires and mechanical stimulates such as stroke and friction. Also mechanical stimulations do not change its power and physical form. As a result, its consumption is economical. Slurry can be stored in warehouses for about six months.

Parchin was said to be one of Iran's major chemical weapons facilities, along with the facilities located at Damghan (said to be the primary production facility), Esfahan and Qazvin. Reports that Iran had chemical weapons plants at Damghan and Parchin that began operation as early as March 1988 were of uncertain reliability. Iran was said in US intelligence reports until 2003 to have been continuing to upgrade and expand its chemical warfare production infrastructure and munitions arsenal, which includes blister, blood, choking agents, and nerve agents.

After 2003, US intelligence reporting began to downplay such previous assertions, suggesting that dual-use facilities could quickly field chemical agents, but were not necessarily active in their production, and that Iran was conducting research that "may have offensive applications." Such reporting called into question the nature of the facilities at Parchin and elsewhere in Iran.

Major action was only taken against Parchin Chemical in July 2008, as the US State Department released a statement confirming that an executive order signed in June 2008 had designated a number of Iranian individuals and entities as supporting proliferation. The lists were based off of those contained in the annexes of UN resolutions 1737, 1747 and 1803, and included Parchin Chemical, but because of its link to Iran's missile program (solid fuel rocket motor chemicals). No claim's of Parchin's possible link to chemical weapons were made.

Parchin Missile Industries
Defense Industry Organization Department 140/4 and 140/31

A number of unguided rockets have been developed and placed in production by Iran's Parchin Missile Industries Division of the Iranian Defence Industries Organization (also referred to as DIO Department 140/31, DIO Missile Industries Group, Parchin Missile Industries Division, DIO Rocket Products, or Moavenate Sanaye Moushaki Parchin). Parchin had built the Russian AT-3B "Sagger" anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) for some years under the local name of Raad. In 1998 it was reported that Iran had begun production an improved version of the Russian AT-3B. Called the Improved Raad (I-Raad), the wire-guided missile had a new front airframe fitted with a tandem high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead intended to defeat main battle tanks fitted with explosive reactive armor.

Defense Industry Organization Department 140/31 at Parchin was associated with production of solid propellant for rockets and missiles. The production line included of a few types of unguided rockets, including the Okhab and Nazeat-10, air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles, a variant of the US TOW anti-tank missile (known as the Toophan), as well as the assembly of the SCUD missiles or SCUD-based missiles. New production facilities were being built for the IFA. Also associated with the Parchin facility was Department 140/4, though it was unclear what its specific role was.

Iran invested heavily in an assembly line for production of the Fajr-3 missiles in Parchin using North Korean missile manufacturing technology. Iran's missile program reportedly includes production plants in Esfahan and Semnan, as well as at design centers in Sultanatabad, Lavizan and Kuh-e Bagh-e-Melli on the outskirts of Teheran. Other reports claimed that the Iranian missile infrastructure included a Chinese-built missile plant near Semnan, larger North Korean-built plants at Isfahan and Sirjan which can produce liquid fuels and some structural components, and missile test facilities at Shahroud.

In November 2007 the National Council of Resistance (NCR) claimed that a major accident had occured at the Parchin site, resulting in a 7 alarm fire. Iranian authorities claimed that only a minor accident and far less serious fire had occured. No mention of the explosions reported by the NCR were made in official reports.

Nuclear Weapons Work at Parchin

The Wall Street Journal reported that in a public session of the Iranian Parliament on 24 November 2003, Ahmad Shirzad, a deputy from the city of Isfahan, stated that there was a large nuclear-related underground facility near the city of Parchin.

In an article in the Washington Post, updated on 7 March 2004, and entitled Iran's Nuclear Menace, Mansoor Ijaz claimed that Iran's nuclear weapons program included use of "Belarus-Russian filtering and high-temperature melting technologies for uranium enrichment. These facts were revealed by Ahmad Shirzad, a member of Iran's Parliament representing Isfahan, in late 2003 as he passionately argued Iran's children were starving while the mullahs processed uranium at secret underground facilities near Parchin (southeast of Tehran) and in the mountains between Qazvin and Karaj (northwest of Tehran)." The precise technique allegedly involved was unclear, but would appear to have been thermal diffusion. The thermal-diffusion process is characterized by its simplicity, low capital cost, and high heat consumption. The thermal-diffusion plant in Oak Ridge was dismantled when the much more energy-efficient (by a factor of 140) gaseous-diffusion plant began operation in the 1940's. The electrical consumption of a gas centrifuge facility is much less than that of a gaseous diffusion plant. The specific energy consumption is 2300-3000 kWh/SWU for gaseous-diffusion, versus 100-300 kWh/SWU for gas centrifuge. So the gas centrifuge is probably a thousand times less energy intensive than thermal diffusion, rendering this allegation implausible.

On 11 September 2004 it was reported that the IAEA had requested a visit to Parchin, but the Iranians had not yet agreed to the inspection. The IAEA questioned whether Iran might be doing nuclear weapons work there. The agency had requested to send inspectors to Parchin, but this was not mentioned in the IAEA report on Iran published 1 September 2004.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) quarterly report also says "extensive activities" -- a reference to suspected sanitization efforts -- at Iran's Parchin military complex will hamper its investigation of possible past nuclear weapons development work there, if inspectors are granted access. The IAEA reported in 2011 that Iran placed "a large explosives containment vessel" in Parchin in 2000 and constructed a building around it. The facilities were designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kilograms of high explosives -- something the IAEA called "relevant to the development of an explosive nuclear device." Since that report, the IAEA has sought to send inspectors to the site of the suspected building but have been denied access by Iran to that part of the military base. In recent months, the agency also obtained information that indicates Iran has been busy cleaning up the suspected site, including tearing down some buildings and removing soil. The last effort by the IAEA to convince Iran to let inspectors visit the site -- where Iran denies clean-up activities are taking place -- broke down in June 2012 when Tehran accused the agency of acting like an "intelligence organization."

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Page last modified: 27-10-2012 19:22:24 ZULU