Iran Watch Newsletter: June 2020

June 30, 2020

Publication Type: 

  • Newsletters

This month's newsletter features a report on the history and status of Iran’s ballistic missiles, with a focus on their role as a nuclear weapon delivery vehicle. The report provides an overview of Iran's current capabilities, identifies key entities supporting the effort, explains where Iran has found foreign help, and reviews efforts to hinder Tehran’s progress.  

The newsletter also includes documents related to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections in Iran, efforts by the United States to extend a U.N. arms embargo, and U.S. sanctions on Iran’s shipping and metals sectors, as well as profiles of Iranian universities connected to proliferation. In addition, the newsletter features news about a recently disclosed facility that allegedly produces aluminum powder for Iran's missile program and a German intelligence agency report on Iran’s attempts to procure technology for weapons of mass destruction.

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Iran Watch Publications

Iran's arsenal of guided missiles is the largest and most diverse in the Middle East. Many of those missiles are large enough to carry nuclear payloads, a fact that has long been an object of international concern. In 2015, the United Nations Security Council warned Iran "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons" until October 2023 -- a warning Iran has ignoredIn addition, Iran has developed both cruise and ballistic missiles for use in conventional combat and has transferred missiles to its proxies in the region. 

This report traces the history of Iran's missile effort, with a focus on their role as a nuclear weapon delivery vehicle. The report provides an overview of Iran's current capabilities, identifies key entities supporting the effort, explains where Iran has found foreign help, and reviews efforts to hinder Tehran’s progress. 

Read the full report here.

Iran Watch Library

Iran further exceeds JCPOA-mandated nuclear restrictions and is refusing to cooperate with an IAEA investigation of undeclared nuclear material: 

U.S. ramps up sanctions on Iranian shipping and metals sectors, targeting: 

U.S. pursues efforts to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran:

​Entities of Proliferation Concern

Amirkabir University of Technology

An Iranian higher education technical and engineering institute that has conducted research relevant to uranium enrichment, the development of a nuclear implosion device, and missile guidance. 

Malek Ashtar University

An Iranian academic institution supporting the development, education, and research needs of Iran's Ministry of Defense Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and reportedly affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Shahid Beheshti University

An Iranian university with a focus on postgraduate and research programs that carries out scientific research relevant to the development of nuclear weapons.

In the News:

June 24, 2020: According to information from a former Iranian official, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) established a facility near the city of Jarjam in 2011 to produce aluminum powder for Iran's missile program. Iran Alumina Company (IAC), a subsidiary of the state-owned enterprise Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development (IMIDRO), runs the facility. Aluminum powder is a key ingredient in solid fuel missile propellant. In a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader from an IRGC commander, the facility was described as key to "improving the country's self-sufficiency in production of solid fuel for missiles." IAC may have acquired equipment for the facility from China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co, Ltd (NFC), whose assistant president Li Xiaofeng allegedly coordinated the supply from German and Japanese firms. According to the former Iranian official, who is now living in France, the facility was still operating in 2018 when he left Iran. U.S. sanctions target Iran's aluminum sector, as well as the IRGC and third parties that do business with the Guards.

June 16, 2020: An annual report by the intelligence service for the southern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg concludes that Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan are pursuing weapons of mass destruction programs through illegal procurement from Germany. According to the report, which covers activity in 2019, these countries seek "products and relevant known-how." The report describes Iran's effort to bypass German trade rules by employing front companies and shipping goods through third countries such as China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. The report further warns that Iran might infiltrate German research centers and universities in a bid to obtain proliferation know-how. (Image courtesy of Fars News Agency.)

June 3, 2020: China's Huawei Technologies effectively controlled Iran-based Skycom Tech Co and acted to cover up its relationship, according to internal Huawei and Skycom documents. This counters Huawei's claim that the Iranian firm was just a business partner. Huawei dissolved Skycom in 2013 after Western banks expressed concerns that Huawei's relationship with the Iranian company violated economic sanctions on Iran. Huawei then transferred Skycom's past contracts to a new Iranian company under its control, Huawei Technologies Service. These revelations may support a case in which the United States is seeking to extradite the Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou from Canada for violating sanctions on Iran. Canadian authorities arrested Meng in December 2018 and a judge recently rejected an argument that the U.S. charges against her do not constitute a crime in Canada.