Arnold Beichman, a reporter for The Washington Times, concludes that Iran’s BW efforts are part of its overall campaign to become the dominant power in the Middle East, and in his view, Iran is a greater danger to the world than Iraq. According to Paula DeSutter, a former Senior Fellow for Arms Control and Nonproliferation at the former Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), in its quest to become the regional hegemon, “Iran considers the United States to be the primary threat to Iranian interests, and U.S. forces in the region could well be perceived by Iran as lucrative targets for NBC weapons–which Iran will be able to deliver through both traditional and novel means, presenting challenges to U.S. defenses. Furthermore, DeSutter emphasizes that Iran’s use of NBC will be particularly difficult to deter and that, in fact, the possibility of the U.S. failing to deter future Iranian use of WMD is significant.

Some of the reasons for DeSutter’s dire assessment were alluded to in the introduction of this paper. Having been the victims of extensive WMD use, the Iranians emerged from the 1980 – 1988 Iran-Iraq War determined to develop WMD and missile delivery systems to deter future Iraqi aggression. This desire to develop a WMD deterrent capability was further strengthened by a key lesson learned from the 1991 Gulf War. As was the case for Iraq’s military, Iran’s conventional forces would not be able to prevent U.S. actions in the region. Thus, Iranian leaders view WMD and their means of delivery as an essential component of the military capabilities required to ensure Iran’s security.

Beichman reported that Iranian President Mohammed Khatami has created a science and technology group of advisers, headquartered in the Mahsa Building in Tehran, to supervise his Regime’s NBC programs. These programs include four different groups currently engaged in producing biological weapons: Special Industries Organization of Iran’s Ministry of Defense, Research Center of the Construction Crusade, Revolutionary Guard Corps research at Imam Hossein University, and The Biotechnology Research Center. Additionally, the Iranians have hired Russian, Chinese, and North Korean BW experts to work at these facilities. Based on official unclassified DoD, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and ACDA reports, Iran has investigated since the early 1980s both pathogens and toxins as BW agents, produced some agents, and apparently weaponized a small quantity of those produced. Iran is judged to be able to support an independent BW program, possesses the in-house capacity for large-scale agent production, and could have an indigenously developed BW warhead for ballistic missile delivery around the 2000 timeframe. Iran is also expected to employ cruise missiles with spray tanks as future BW agent delivery systems.

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