The Stem Cell Technology Research Center (STRC) is actually a front for Iran’s military and IRGC. It’s owned and run by officials from Iran’s military industries, and is probably involved in covert procurement of equipment and expertise for Iran’s defence sector.
STRC is part of the SPND (سپند) organization – a military-run hub for remnants and holdouts from Iran’s pre-2003 nuclear weapons program, and also a home to scientists who like playing on the boundaries of research into biological and chemical weapons.
On the surface, the STRC looks like a legitimate private medical institution. They’ve published lots of academic papers on advanced biotechnology research, including with foreign universities. They’ve even hosted a visit by Iran’s science minister, Surena Satteri (سورنا ستاری) back in 2015.
And the STRC also looks like a pretty big organization, at least judging by all of the different names that it goes by. These include:
– Stem Cell Technology Company
– Bon Biotech Stem Cell Technology Company
– شرکت فناوری بن یاخته
– مرکز تحقیقات فناوری بن یاخته
– مرکز تحقیقات بنیاخته
What all of these iterations share (as you can check for yourself) is a single Tehran address: No 9, East 2nd St., Farhang Blvd., Saadat Abad, Tehran, 1997775555. You can even look it up on Google Maps:
STRC’s various websites include:
STRC’s founder, Dr Masoud Soleimani (دکتر مسعود سلیمانی, national ID 1287947786). Soleimani, an academic from Tarbiat Modares University, is perhaps Iran’s premier stem cell researcher. He’s authored over 550 articles and 12 books on the subject. By all accounts, he’s a very bright man.
Soleimani spent time in an Atlanta prison accused of attempting to arrange the export of human growth hormone from America to Iran without the required licences.
He was released in late 2019 in a high-level prisoner exchange, that even saw part of his return journey to Iran accompanied by then Foreign Minister Javad Zarif . The charges were never proven, but we think you’ll agree that Iran seem to think he is pretty important. We’d take a luxury flight in a Dassault Falcon 900EX over a trans-Atlantic flight with vials of HGH smuggled down our pants any day.
STRC’s CEO, Dr Ahmad Karimi Rahjerdi. Google searches of Dr Karimi’s few English-language scientific publications would bear that out. Dr Karimi has published research on novel toxins with authors from the IRGC-affiliated Baghiyatallah University of Medical Sciences (دانشگاه علوم پزشکی بقیه الله).
Look up Dr Karimi’s name in Farsi though (احمد کریمی راهجردی, national ID 0051332574), and you’ll realize that he’s a long-time member of Iran’s military and IRGC. He’s employed as a lecturer and researcher in biological defence at the Imam Hossein University (دانشگاه امام حسین), the IRGC’s own elite officer training school, and an organization reputedly at the heart of Tehran’s dabblings with biological weapon agents. Karimi also moonlights as a representative to Iran’s Passive Defence Organization (سازمان پدافند غیرعامل), a military-run program for nominally civil defence projects like burying nuclear facilities underground.
Indeed, STRC’s board is packed to the brim with IRGC and military types. There’s also Dr Ali Gharibian (دكتر علي غريبيان, national ID 0051332574). Gharibian works at MODAFL’s Centre for Technology Incubators (مرکز رشد واحدهای فناور), of which you might rightly guess that STRC is actually one. Gharibian is also an old buddy of SPND old-timer and Amad Man Akbar Motallebizadeh (اکبر مطلبی زاده, national ID 4430516261), and we hear that the two were even business partners in a company called Vista Vision Raman (شرکت ویستا ویژن رامان, national ID 14003535924) for a while.
Late last year, a new member was appointed to the STRC board: Mahdi Masoumian (aka Mehdi Masoumian or مهدی معصومیان, national ID 0491942168). He was outed as a senior official of the SPND organization, and also as head of an SPND front company named Kimiya Pakhsh Shargh (کیمیا پخش شرق, national ID 10102179854), which was involved in procuring equipment with nuclear weapon-relevant utility ever since the AMAD pre-2003 nuclear weapons program. Masoumian wouldn’t know a stem cell from Soft Cell, but he probably knows a thing or two about covert procurement. So his appointment only serves to flag STRC as even dodgier than it already looked.
Here’s the overall picture of all these connections:
Source » iranredline