This month’s newsletter features updates to a table tracking the capabilities of Iran’s missile arsenal and to a report estimating how quickly Iran could enrich enough uranium to fuel a small nuclear arsenal. The missile table includes new details gleaned from a December 2021 military exercise. The nuclear timetable update revises downward the estimated time it would take Iran to enrich enough uranium for five warheads, reflecting data published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in May.
The newsletter also features profiles of Iranian research institutions whose faculty have been involved in proliferation-related activity, as well as news about the British Royal Navy’s seizure of Iranian missile components en route to Yemen, the operation of a new cascade of IR-6 centrifuges at Fordow, and U.S. intelligence indicating that Iran is preparing to export military drones to Russia. Documents from the Iran Watch library include official statements from a U.N. Security Council briefing on the Iran, new U.S. sanctions announcements, and recent diplomatic efforts in the Middle East.
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The IRGC Aerospace Museum in Tehran. Image credit: Fars News Agency.
Table | Iran’s Missile Arsenal
In March, U.S. Central Command’s General Kenneth McKenzie stated that Iran possesses “over 3,000” ballistic missiles, which does not include the country’s burgeoning land-attack cruise missile force. Iran has also made substantial improvements over the past decade in the precision and accuracy of its missiles, and has employed them in combat on multiple occasions since 2017. This table sets forth what is publicly known, claimed, or estimated about the capabilities of Iran's ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and space launch vehicles, including new details gleaned from a December 2021 military exercise.
See the full table here.
Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium is now sufficient to fuel a small nuclear arsenal. For this uranium to pose a nuclear weapon threat, however, it would have to be processed further to weapon-grade, and the other components of an operable weapon would have to be ready to receive the processed uranium. This timetable estimates how quickly Iran could enrich enough uranium for five implosion-type warheads, either overtly or at secret sites. The potential is estimated as of mid-May 2022, the date of inspection contained in the IAEA’s latest report.
See the full report here.
ENTITIES OF CONCERN
Faculty at Iranian universities conduct research relevant to weapons of mass destruction, missiles, and drones, although they have only rarely been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union.
University of Tehran
Faculty members have studied propulsion systems for UAVs and turbine-less jet engines in collaboration with scientists from Iran University of Science and Technology, Islamic Azad University, and K. N. Toosi University of Technology; in 2019, faculty reportedly collaborated with the Iran Space Research Center on dozens of projects, including a project on propulsion.
Islamic Azad University
Faculty members have collaborated with Iranian government agencies to carry out research relevant to Iran's nuclear and missile programs, including research on liquid-propellant rocket engines; faculty members have obtained HTPB, a substance controlled for its potential use in solid propellants for missiles, from a supplier in China.
Malek Ashtar University
Sanctioned by the United Nations for possible connections to Iran’s military nuclear program; supports the research and development needs of Iran's Ministry of Defense Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL); a subordinate entity has carried out studies that have applications in the development of nuclear explosives.
IN THE NEWS
Missile components seized by the HMS Montrose in early 2022. Image credit: UK Ministry of Defense.
July 11, 2022: U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States had information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred drones for the war in Ukraine. The planned transfer would include both surveillance and armed UAVs. Further, Sullivan said, Iran is preparing to train Russian troops on how to operate the weapons as soon as July. Sullivan did not know whether any drones had already been transferred.
Iran Enriches to 20% With New Centrifuges at Fortified Site | Associated Press
July 10, 2022: Iran announced that it has begun enriching uranium up to 20 percent purity using advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its Fordow facility. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran was using a system of "modified sub-headers" for one cascade of these centrifuges, a set-up that allows Iran to more quickly and easily switch between enrichment levels.
UK Warship Seizes Advanced Iranian Missiles Bound for Yemen | Associated Press
July 7, 2022: The British government announced that the Royal Navy seized a shipment of Iranian weapons in the Gulf of Oman on two occasions in January and February 2022. The shipments included surface-to-air missiles and engines for land-attack cruise missiles. The British navy linked the engines to an Iranian-made cruise missile with a 1,000-kilometer range that it said Houthi rebels in Yemen have used against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iran denied that it had shipped the weapons to Yemen.
FROM THE LIBRARY
The presidents of Russia and the United States each made diplomatic trips to the Middle East, the latter to Riyadh and Jerusalem and the former to Tehran.
- After a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the two leaders issued a joint declaration. The United States reiterated its “commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” saying it is “prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome” - July 14.
- Following a stop in Saudi Arabia, President Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to supporting Riyadh’s security and territorial defense - July 15.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran, after which he issued a statement expressing support for the preservation of the JCPOA - July 19.
The U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments took action against sanctions evaders.
- The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions targeting an Iranian oil and petrochemical network - July 6.
- Sanctioned entities included Jam Petrochemical Company, which has exported petrochemical products to companies in East Asia and facilitated the use of front bank accounts and companies in order to obfuscate the shipment and sale - July 6.
- Separately, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued an order denying export privileges for Joyce Marie Eliabachus until October 7, 2030. In 2020, Eliabachus was convicted of conspiring to supply aircraft components to Iran - July 19.
On June 23, ahead of a U.N. Security Council briefing, the U.N.’s facilitator for resolution 2231 transmitted her latest six-month report assessing the resolution’s implementation. Resolution 2231 endorsed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
- The U.N. Secretary-General published his accompanying report evaluating the implementation of resolution 2231 over the first half of 2022 - June 23.
- Representatives from China, Iran, and Russia issued responses pointing to the United States’ 2018 withdrawal from the nuclear agreement as the source of implementation issues - June 30.
- Statements by the United States and the United Kingdom, France, and Germany highlighted Iran’s “nuclear escalation” and suggested that Iran was responsible for preventing a restoration of the JCPOA - June 30.