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Ariel Rothfield


By Ariel Rothfield, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University 2013, Special to Winnipeg Jewish Review, July 12, 2010

In the seminal report, “Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Cases of Iran, Syria, and Libya,” written in 1990, Kenneth Timmerman first exposed Iran’s expansion of conventional forces and unconventional weapons. Although published 20 years ago, Iran continues to remilitarize without question. 

Iran has and continues to use China and North Korea in order to access chemical and biological agents, nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Already the country has obtained enough missiles to launch nuclear missiles into Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“In October [1992], Iran reportedly agreed to purchase 20 SCUD-Cs from North Korea, and was so pleased with the new missile that it ordered 150 additional missiles one month later.”

With no restrictions placed on such transactions, it is likely Iran possesses much longer-range missiles as well as the new Korean missile, the No-Dong 1.

The country additionally uses the West for more advanced technologies by exploiting their weak export control laws. According to the Timmerman report, the trend throughout the West is that “Iran actively seeks components and technologies for its nuclear weapons and unconventional weapons program through commercial channels.” 

Part of the reason for such manipulation is that major exporting countries do not keep track of the dual-use equipment shipped to Iran, equipment that can be used for both peaceful and military purposes. These major suppliers include: Germany, Britain, Italy and Japan.

According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, from 1982 to 1991 Iran received 4,542.3 licensed exports from other countries. Of these sales, 45,000.4 came from Germany alone.

Although legal, Iran’s imports can be used in the development of nuclear weapons. In March 1984 the government contracted Bayer AG, a German company, to build a pesticide plant and export pesticide formula. Bayer additionally supplied Iran with a packaging line for toxic substances and a toxic disposal unit. Such items are essential to making powerful chemical weapons.

In addition to the toxic materials, Iran needs skilled technicians so the country sends students to universities in the West. According to the Timmerman report, between 15,000 and 17,000 young people were sent to study in Australia, Germany, Britain and the United States. “The skills most needed by a country such as Iran were not in nuclear physics, but in production technology,” the report said. “These young Iranians educated abroad would return home to work in the weapons complex.”

Increasing its supply of biological agents, nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles is not just about war, but also about power. “Iran sees nuclear weapons as a tool of political domination, more than an instrument of war.” With a high inventory of nuclear weapons, Iran would have the power to control oil prices and supplies for the West. Therefore making it a powerful and dangerous country.

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