Fartashphoto's Blog

Iran and Chemical Weapons

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on April 18, 2010

Iran’s chemical weapons (CW) program was launched during the Iran/Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 through 1988. Both Iran and Iraq are parties were parties to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of Chemical weapons. There was never any doubt that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran. Iran reported in 2003 at least 100,000 known victims of the use of different types of chemical agents (nerve agents, blistering agents and mixed agents), 35,000 of them were considered serious, due to suffering from long effects of chemical weapons deployed by Iraq (especially mustard gas).

Reports say that Iran used chemical agents to respond to Iraqi chemical attacks on several occasions during that war were controversial. Iraq presented chemical casualties to visiting UN chemical experts in 1987 and 1988. These individuals could also have been victims of Iraq’s careless use of its own chemical munitions. On 14 May 1987 the UN Security Council stated that Iraqi military personnel had sustained injuries from chemical warfare agents, without actually affirming that Iran used chemical weapons against them.

As reported by Islamic Republic News Agency, on 19 October 1988 (two months after the war had ended), Parliamentary speaker (and future president) Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani declared that “…chemical bombs and biological weapons are poor man’s atomic bombs and can easily be produced. We should at least consider them for our defense… Although the use of such weapons is inhuman, the war taught us that international laws are only drops of ink on paper.”

Iran was believed to have manufactured weapons for blister, blood, and choking agents. It was also believed to be conducting research on nerve agents. Iran’s stockpile of CW was believed to include nerve and blister agents. Iran was working on developing a self-sufficient CW production capacity that included more effective nerve agents. Along with its shell and bomb delivery systems, Iran was also thought to have been producing CW warheads for its Scud missile systems.

Its production capacity was estimated at as much as 1000 tons a year, with major production facilities located at Damghan, 300 km east of Tehran. Other facilities were believed to be located at Esfahan, Parchin and Qazvin. The Iranian chemical weapons infrastructure was very poorly characterized in the open literature, and given the reported scope of the program some had suggested that as many as a dozen other facilities had some significant chemical weapons development, production, storage or training role.

With extensive foreign assistance, Tehran obtained technology, chemical agent precursors, production equipment, and entire production plants. Although Iran made a concerted effort to attain an independent production capability for all aspects of its CW program, especially, its nerve agent program, it remained dependent on foreign sources for some chemical warfare-related technologies. China, as well as Russia were important suppliers of technologies and equipment for Iran’s chemical warfare program.

In the first half of 2000, according to both the Director and the Deputy Director of the Director of CIA’s Nonproliferation Center, Iran was estimated to have an inventory of several thousand tons of various agents. These agents included sulfur mustard, phosgene, cyanide, and nerve agents, both weaponized and bulk. In the second of the Sect. 721 reports in 2000 it said only that Iran “probably” had nerve agents.

According to an October 2007 report by the Congressional Research Service, “official U.S. reports and testimony continue to state that Iran is seeking a self-sufficient CW infrastructure and that it ‘may have already’ stockpiled blister, blood, choking and nerve agents—and the bombs and shells to deliver them.”

In an 14 January 2008 interview before the Israeli Knesset the Israeli Military Intelligence research chief Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser said that “the possibility certainly exists” for Iran to supply chemical weapons to Hezbollah. This suggested that Israeli intelligence held open the possibility either that Iran had covertly retained undeclared stocks of chemical weapons, or that such agents could be quickly (and possibly covertly) manufactured.

Signatories of the Geneva Protocol that have used chemical weapons in war include Japan (in China), Italy (in Ethiopia), Iran and Iraq (against each other and against Iraq’s Kurdish citizens).

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