WMD Middle East Information of 2006

Michael Barletta
Erik Jorgensen
May 1998

Updated by Sammy Salama and Alexis Zeiger, April 2006

Country Profiles

WMD Middle East Chart [1]

Nuclear [2]
  • Large nuclear development program to construct power reactors for civilian energy generation, reliant on Russian assistance.
  • 5 MW and 30 KW research reactors, . 01 KW critical assembly at Tehran NRC.
  • Russian-supplied 1,000 MW light water reactor at Bushehr.
  • Heavy water production plant under construction in Arak.
  • US, and Israeli officials believe Iran seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons.
  • Ratified the NPT on February 20, 1970; signed the CTBT on September 24, 1990.
  • Signed the Additional Protocol on December 18, 2003 but has not yet ratified it.
  • Found to be in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by the IAEA Board on September 24, 2005.
  • Uranium conversion facility at Isfahan and Tehran, under IAEA safeguards. Conversion resumed on August 8, 2005 after suspension in 2003.
  • Pilot-scale uranium enrichment program and construction of a commercial-scale facility at Natanz that was shut down in 2003 with suspension of enrichment activities; unsealed in the presence of IAEA inspectors on January 10, 2006.
  • On February 4, 2006 the IAEA Board of Governors voted to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council in March 2006.
  • Small scale enrichment at Natanz facility restarted mid-February 2006.
Chemical [3]
  • Began CW production in mid-1980s, following CW attacks by Iraq.
  • Limited use of chemical weapons in 1984-1988 during war with Iraq, initially using captured Iraqi CW munitions.
  • Began stockpiling cyanogen chloride, phosgene, and mustard gas after 1985.
  • Alleged to have initiated nerve agent production in 1994.
  • Ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention on November 3, 1997.
  • The United States has alleged that Iran is producing, stockpiling, and weaponizing blister, blood and choking agents.
  • Suspected CW production sites at Damghan, Isfahan, Parchin and Qazvin.
  • Destroyed CW production equipment under observation of OPCW inspectors.
  • Remains in good standing with the OPCW and hosted the Third Regional Meeting for CWC National Authorities in Asia in September 2005.
Biological [4]
  • Research effort reportedly initiated in 1980s during war with Iraq.
  • Suspected research laboratories at Damghan and Tehran.
  • May have produced small quantities of agents and begun limited weaponization.
  • Alleged research on Anthrax, hoof and mouth disease and biotoxins.
  • Ratified the BTWC on August 22, 1973.
Ballistic missiles [5]
  • Approximately 150 Scud-C [Shahab- 2] with 500km range and 700kg payload.
  • Up to 200 Scud-B [Shahab- 1] with 300km range and 985kg payload.
  • Approximately 200 CSS-8s with 150km range and 190kg payload.
  • Unknown quantity of indigenous Mushak-120 with 130km range and 150kg payload and Mushak-160 with 160km range and 500kg payload.
  • Launched almost 100 Scud-B against Iraq during 1985-1988.
  • Limited quantity of Shahab-3 with 1,300km range and over 700kg payload. In addition, there is suspicion of improvement on Shahab-3 bringing it to a 2,000km range.
  • Announced development of solid fuel for ballistic missiles to be installed on Shahab-3.
  • Reported development of Shahab-4 with 2,000km range and 1,000kg payload and Shahab-5 with approximately 5,500km range and 1,000kg payload.
Cruise missiles [6]
  • HY-4/C-201 with 150km range and 500 kg payload.
  • Harpoon with 120km range and 220kg payload.
  • SS-N-22 Sunburn with 110km range and 500kg payload.
  • HY-2 Silkworm with 95km range and 513kg payload.
  • YJ-2/C-802 with 120km range and165kg payload.
  • AS-9 Kyle with 90km range and 200kg payload.
  • AS-11 Kilter with 120km range and 130kg payload.
  • Alleged acquisition of AS-15 Kent with 3,000km range and 410kg payload.
Other delivery systems [7]
  • Ground attack and fighter aircraft include: 30 SU-24, 30 each of F-4D/E, 60 F-14A, 30 MiG-29, 60 F-5E/F, and 24 F-7. Most not operational due to lack of spare parts.
  • Ground systems include artillery and rocket launchers, notably hundreds of Oghab artillery rockets with a 45km range and 70kg payload, hundreds of Nazeat (N5) artillery rockets with a 105-150km range and 150-250kg warhead, several Shahin-1 and 2 artillery rockets with ranges of 75 and 20km respectively with a 175kg payload, and several Zelzal rockets with a 210km range and 600kg payload.
  • Successful tests of the Fajr-3 rocket in 2006, with approximately 43km range and 90kg payload.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) [8]
  • Production of an unknown quantity of Muhajir- 4, unknown range and payload capacity.
  • Development of Muhajir- 6, unknown range and payload capacity.

Flowchart [9] Iran Flowchart


  1. This chart summarizes data available from public sources. Precise assessment of a state’s capabilities is difficult because most weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs remain secret and cannot be verified independently.
  2. Andrew Koch and Jeanette Wolf, “Iran’s Nuclear Facilities: A Profile,” Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), Monterey Institute of International Studies, 1998, CNS website; Andrew Koch and Jeanette Wolf, “Iran’s Nuclear Procurement Program: How Close to the Bomb?” Nonproliferation Review. Fall 1997, pp. 123-35; Michael Eisenstadt, Iranian Military Power: Capabilities and Intentions (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1996), pp. 9-25; “Iran: Objectives, Strategies and Resources,” Proliferation: Threat and Response, Office of the Secretary of Defense, (Washington, DC: US Department of Defense, 1997) pp. 3-4, www.defenselink.mil; Anthony H. Cordesman, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East: National Efforts, War Fighting Capabilities, Weapons Lethality, Terrorism, and Arms Control Implications, (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 1998) p. 25; “Iran Special Weapons Facilities,” Federation of American Scientists, October 10, 1997, www.fas.org; “Situation on December 31, 1996 with Respect to the Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements Between the Agency and Non-nuclear-weapon States in Connection with the NPT,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), www.iaea.or.at; “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” September 24, 2005, IAEA, www.iaea.org; “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” February 4, 2006, IAEA, www.iaea.org; “Strengthened Safeguards System: Status of Additional Protocols,” January 26, 2006, IAEA, www.iaea.org; Nuclear Engineering International, 1998 World Nuclear Industry Handbook (Essex, UK: Wilmington Publishing Ltd, 1998), p. 114; Sharon Squassoni, “Iran’s Nuclear Program: Recent Developments,” CRS Report for Congress, November 23, 2005, p. 2, www.fas.org; “IAEA Confirms Unsealing of Natanz Nuclear Site,” IRNA, January 10, 2006; Joseph Cirincone et al., “Iran,” Deadly Arsenals (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), www.carnegieendowment.org; “‘Diplomat’ Says Iran Takes First Step in Enrichment Work,” AFP, February 13, 2006 in Open Source Center Document EUP20060213102003. The Jerusalem Post recently in 1998 that Iran purchased two to four nuclear weapons from Kazakstan in 1992, but the US departments of Defense and State said there was no evidence to support the claim. Steve Rodan, “Iran Has Up to 4 Nuclear Bombs,” Jerusalem Post, April 9, 1998; Steve Rodan, “MK Elul Says Israel, US Have Known of Iranian Nukes For Years,” Jerusalem Post, April 12, 1998, www.jpost.co.il.
  3. E.J. Hogendoorn, “A Chemical Weapons Atlas,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September – October 1997, p. 37; Gregory F. Giles, Iranian Approaches to Chemical Warfare, December 15, 1997; Seth W. Carus, “Iran’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: Implications and Responses,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, 1998, 2(1): 1-14. “CWC Status: States of Chemical Weapons Proliferation Concern,” May 27, 1998, Stimson Center, www.stimson.org; Office of the Secretary of Defense, p. 5; Eisenstadt, pp. 26-27; Cordesman, 1998, pp. 22-24; Anthony H. Cordesman, Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East: The Impact on the Regional Military Balance, (Washington, D.C., Center for Strategic and International Studies) March 2005, pp. 71-72, www.csis.org. “Devil’s Brew Briefings: Iran,” Centre for Defence and International Security Studies (CDISS), www.cdiss.org. “Chemical Weapons,” GlobalSecurity.org, February 2006. “Damghan,” Federation of American Scientists, last updated April 12, 2000, www.fas.org. “Third Regional Meeting for National Authorities of States Parties in Asia Concludes in Tehran, Iran,” Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, September 12, 2005, www.opcw.org.
  4. Cordesman, 1998, p. 24; Cordesman, 2005, p. 73; CDISS. Office of the Secretary of Defense, p. 5; US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control Agreements, August 1996 (Washington, DC. US Government Printing Office), p. 68; “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions July 1 through December 31, 2003,” (Washington, D.C., Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, 2004), p. 3, www.cia.gov.
  5. “Missile and Space Launch Capabilities of Selected Countries,” The Nonproliferation Review, forthcoming 1998; Duncan Lennox, ed., “Country Inventory – In Service,” Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems Issue 24, May 1997. Cordesman, 1998, p. 23; “National Briefings: Iran,” CDISS, www.cdiss.org; Office of the Secretary of Defense, pp. 5-6. Bates Gill, Silkworms and Summitry: Chinese Arms Exports to Iran and US-China Relations (Asia and Pacific Rim Institute of The American Jewish Committee, 1998), pp. 19-26; Bill Gertz, “Russia, China Aid Iran’s Missile Program,” Washington Times, September 10, 1997; Steve Rodan, “Israel in Iranian Missile Range by 1999,” Jerusalem Post, October 1, 1997; “Russia-Iran Ties Remain Issue at Gore-Chernomyrdin Meeting,” Arms Control Today, September 1997; Ed Blanche, “Iran is Warned Again of Missile Counteraction,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, December 5, 1997; “O Raketnaya programma irana” [“About the Iranian Missile Program”], Voprosy bezaposnosti, #15, 10/14/97; Andrew Koch, “Iran’s Attempts to Go Ballistic: A Status Report,” Weekly Defense Monitor, Vol.2, Issue 1, January 8, 1998, www.cdi.org; “Iran Missile Update, 2004,” The Risk Report, March-April 2004, Wisconsin Project, www.wisconsinproject.org; “Worldwide Ballistic Missile Inventories,” May 2002, Arms Control Association, www.armscontrol.org; “Russian Report on Iranian Two-Stage Missile Development, Official Denial,” Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, January 10, 2005, in FBIS Document CEP20050610949011.
  6. Cordesman, 1998 p. 23; Raytheon, Missile Systems of the World, (AMI International, 1999), pp. 214, 218, 228; Office of the Secretary of Defense, p. 6. Gill, pp. 11-19; “Countries with Emerging Cruise Missile Capabilities,” Centre for Defence and International Security Studies, www.cdiss.org. Alon Ben-David, “Iran Acquires Ballistic Missiles from DPRK,” Jane’s Defense Weekly, January 4, 2006.
  7. The Military Balance 1997/98 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1997), p. 127. The Military Balance estimated that less than 50 percent of Iran’s US-supplied aircraft (F-4D/E, F-5E/F, F-14, F-7) are operational, due to their age and lack of spare parts. During the 1990-1991 Gulf War, 115 Iraqi aircraft (24 Mirage F-1, 4 Su-20, 40 Su-22, 24 Su-24, 7 Su-25, 12 MiG-23, and 4 MiG-29) were flown to Iran. The Military Balance 1991-1992 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1991), p. 100. Iran’s air force has subsequently incorporated some Iraqi MiG-29 and Su-24 aircraft, but most of the Iraqi aircraft are probably not serviceable. The Military Balance 1994-1995 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1994), p. 123. Daniel Pearl, “Same Old Song: Iraq’s Best Planes Are Mainly in Iran,” Wall Street Journal, March 29 1998, p. A10; Cordesman, 2005, p. 67; Cordesman, “The Military Balance in the Middle East: Assessing the Balance, Total Forces, Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers,” CSIS, 2/19/04, pp. 221-223; “Air Force,” GlobalSecurity.org; Raytheon, Missile Systems of the World (Lexington, Massachusetts: AMI International, 1999), p. 425; Ali Akbar Dareini, “Iran Test-Fires Missile Able to Duck Radar,” Associated Press, March 31, 2006.
  8. Ali Nuri Zadeh, “Iranian Source: Hizbollah Receives 8 ‘Muhajir-4’ Planes,” Asharqalawsat, November 10, 2004.
  9. Flowchart adapted from US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Technologies Underlying Weapons of Mass Destruction, (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, December 1993) ,p.120.
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