Condition (10) (C) Report: Compliance With The Convention On The Prohibition Of The Development, Production, Stockpiling And Use Of Chemical Weapons And On Their Destruction

April 15, 2019

Weapon Program: 

  • Chemical

Related Country: 

  • Iraq
  • Libya

CONDITION (10)(C) ANNUAL REPORT ON COMPLIANCE WITH THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION (CWC) 

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COUNTRY ASSESSMENTS

(1) ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN (IRAN)

FINDING

United States certifies Iran is in non-compliance with the CWC due to (1) its failure to declare its transfer of CW to Libya during the 1978-1987 Libya-Chad war, (2) its failure to declare its complete holdings of Riot Control Agents (RCAs), and (3) its failure to submit a complete Chemical Weapons Production Facility (CWPF) declaration. Further, the United States has serious concerns that Iran is pursuing pharmaceutical-based agents (PBAs) for offensive purposes.

ANALYSIS OF COMPLIANCE CONCERNS

In accordance with CWC Article III, paragraph 1(a) (iv), each State Party is required to “declare whether it has transferred or received, directly or indirectly, any chemical weapons since 1 January 1946 and specify the transfer or receipt of such weapons.” The United States assesses that in 1987 Iran transferred CW munitions to Libya during the 1978-1987 Libya-Chad war. Following the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, the Libyan Transitional National Council located sulfur mustard-filled 130mm artillery shells and aerial bombs, which are assessed to have originated from Iran in the late 1980s. In 2011, Libya declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that it discovered 517 artillery shells and 8 aerial bombs comprising 1.3 Metric Tons of sulfur mustard but did not address the provenance of the items. Iran never declared this transfer in accordance with Article III, paragraph 1(a)(iv) of the CWC, and Iran never responded to an OPCW request for additional information.

In accordance with Article III, paragraph 1(e) each State Party is required to declare, with respect to riot control agents (RCAs), the chemical name, structural formula, and Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) registry number, if assigned, of each chemical it holds for riot control purposes. States Parties are further obligated to update the declaration not later than 30 days after any change becomes effective. We assess that Iran’s RCA declaration is incomplete. Iran developed several RCA options – specifically the irritant dibenzoxazepine (CR) – and since 2012, Iran has marketed them for export for riot control purposes. However, Iran has not declared that it holds CR for riot control purposes.

In accordance with CWC Article III, paragraph 1(c)(i) and (ii), each State Party is required to “[d]eclare whether it has or has had any chemical weapons production facility under its ownership or possession, or that is or has been located in any place under its jurisdiction or control at any time since 1 January 1946” and “[s]pecify any chemical weapons production facility it has or has had under its ownership or possession or that is or has been located in any place under its jurisdiction or control at any time since 1 January 1946, in accordance with Part V, paragraph 1, of the Verification Annex.” Further, Part V, paragraph (1)(c) of the Verification Annex requires a “statement of whether it is a facility for the manufacture of chemicals that are defined as chemical weapons or whether it is a facility for the filling of chemical weapons, or both.” In light of the discovery of chemical-filled artillery projectiles and aerial bombs Iran transferred to Libya and assessed Iranian-origin chemical-filled 81mm mortars found by Iraq during the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspections, the United States assesses that Iran filled and possessed chemical weapons. We also assess that Iran successfully developed mortars, artillery cannon rounds, and aerial bombs for CW agent delivery during the 1980-1987 Iran-Iraq War, but failed to declare a CWPF with respect to weapons filling.

The United States is also concerned that Iran is pursuing chemicals for purposes inconsistent with the CWC. Specifically, Iran’s work on PBAs, which it refers to as “incapacitating chemical agents,” raises serious concerns that Iran is pursuing these agents for offensive purposes, which would be a violation of Article I. Iran appears to believe that it can justify its program as consistent with purposes not prohibited under the CWC under Article VI, including for law enforcement purposes. We assess that Iran is likely exploiting these exceptions for purposes inconsistent with the Convention.

BACKGROUND

Iran signed the CWC on January 13, 1993, ratified the CWC on November 3, 1997, initial declarations in 1998 and 1999. Previous 10(C) Reports and Compliance reports have addressed Iran’s sulfur and nitrogen mustard production before entry into force. Iran did not declare any CW weapons or agent stockpiles.

Lack of Declaration on Transfer of Chemical Weapons to Libya

Iran is assessed to have transferred CW munitions to Libya during the 1978-1987 Libyan-Chad war. Specifically, Iran is assessed to have transferred sulfur mustard-filled chemical weapons to Libya in 1987. After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, the Libyan Government located newly found munitions suspected to be of a chemical nature, which are assessed to have originated from Iran in the late 1980s. 

After declaring the 130mm artillery projectiles in 2011, Libya requested OPCW Technical Secretariat assistance in collecting information relating to these chemical weapons. Pursuant to this request, the Technical Secretariat, on December 19, 2012, invited “States Parties, should they be aware and/or in the possession of any information that could contribute to resolving this issue, or should they need any additional information and/or clarification in this regard, to directly contact the National Authority of Libya, or the Permanent Representation of Libya to the OPCW” (NV/VER/DEB/180682/12). Iran has never declared that it transferred chemical weapons to Libya, including in response to the Technical Secretariat’s request.

Lack of Complete Declaration on Riot Control Agents

Although Iran has not declared that it holds CR for riot control purposes, the Iranian Ministry of Defense publically advertises a range of RCA delivery devices, including a personal defense spray that contains CR. Additionally, Shahid Meisami Group (SMG) has participated in defense expos providing fact sheets on its products, to include an 'Ashkan' irritant hand grenade that creates smoke containing CR. SMG has also provided fact sheets to interested users on a “Fog Maker System” that can be used to make smoke and fog at high volume in a short time. This is noteworthy because it can disseminate debilitating chemicals, like CR, over a large area quickly.

Lack of Complete Declaration on CWPFs

Although Iran never declared a CWPF weapons filling capability to weaponize its chemical agent, reports of Iranian-filled CW munition use during the Iran-Iraq was indicate otherwise. In April 1987, mustard-filled 130-mm mortars believed to be of Iranian origin were used near Basrah, Iraq. Iraq’s military and a UN delegation in Iraq reported the artillery contained residual sulfur mustard agent and Iraqi casualties displayed burns consistent with mustard exposure. 

During an UNSCOM inspection in 1991 at Iraq’s Muthana State Establishment, UN inspectors found 165 81-mm mortars filled with sulfur mustard that the Iraqis claimed were Iranian origin (image). Iraq did not possess or fill 81-mm mortars with mustard and the subsequent laboratory tests concluded that the agent in the munitions had higher levels of sulfur mustard impurities than those typically found in agent made by the Iraqis at Muthana, suggesting the munitions were not made by the Iraqis or made at that location.

Exploiting the CWC’s Purposes not Prohibited

Since 2005, some of Iran’s military controlled facilities, Imam Hossein University (IHU) and Malek Ashtar University (MUT), have researched chemical agents intended to incapacitate. Iran’s PBA research includes a wide variety of compounds that have differing sedation, dissociation, and amnestic incapacitating effects. Published Iranian papers cited the potential weapons applications of the PBAs; one specifically referenced the use of fentanyl during the 2002 Dubrovka theater hostage crisis. In 2014, Iran’s Chemistry Department of Imam Hossein University sought kilogram quantities of medetomidine—a sedative it has researched as an incapacitant—from Chinese exporters. The Chemistry Department has little history of veterinary or even medical research and the quantities sought were inconsistent with the reported end use of research (10,000+ effective doses).

EFFORTS TO RESOLVE COMPLIANCE CONCERNS

On November 22, 2018, the United States addressed Iran’s non-compliance with the CWC in its national statement to the CWC’s Fourth Review Conference. The statement included findings from the November 20, 2018 Report to Congress detailing Iran’s non-compliance with the CWC. No bilateral discussions occurred during this reporting year. The last CWC compliance-related bilateral exchanges occurred in 2001 and 2004, on the margins of OPCW Executive Council meetings. The outcome of the discussions did not resolve any of the issues. 

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