Unconventional weapons in the Middle East – Israel and Iran


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Unconventional weapons in the Middle East – Israel and Iran.


The Middle-East is unstable and continuously on the verge of eruption of violent conflicts. The states, in order to maintain their fortitude are involved in an unconventional weapon race. The sources of these weapons are legal and illegal ones and self-developed. International treaties have failed to decrease the arm-race. Therefore in the near future every diplomatic move will be affected by the existence of non-conventional weapons in each state. Two states – Iran and Israel are involved in an unconventional weapon race that fuels the endless international involvement in the area. This paper compares the unconventional weapons of both side and its conclusion is that both sides are more interested in deterrence than in unconventional war. But if diplomacy fails, Israel and Iran are prepared for doomsday war.


Unconventional weapon

Contamination of environment

Missiles and missile development

Chemical warfare

Nuclear arms

Biological arms

The unique problems of the unconventional weapons.

As the international arena is deeply concerned with the Iranian nuclear program, the non-nuclear unconventional weapons pose nonetheless great dangers to the safety of the Middle-East. Almost each state in the Middle-East owns various types of unconventional non-nuclear weapons, and few develop nuclear programs.

Seth Carus observes that approximately 25 distinct sub-national actors (individuals and groups) have shown concerted interest in biological agents. Eight of these 25 are known to have acquired or developed biological weapons.1 Only five of the eight are commonly believed to have employed them, and only two have caused significant harm. The fall 2001 anthrax-by-mail attacks should, of course, be added to this list. Yet the biological challenge is far greater than mere sub-national actors armed with biological weapons. Terrorism is arguably the lesser-included case. While Milton Leitenberg’s assessment that “terrorist use of a BW (Biological Warfare) agent is best characterized as an event of extremely low probability which might . . . produce high mortality” is arguable, his observation that the national debate on the biological threat “is characterized by gross exaggeration, hype, and abstract vulnerability assessments instead of valid threat analysis” is a valid criticism.2

Although the international forum has created a kind of defense shield against unconventional weapons and its use, in other words - the international treaties like the NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty), the CTBT (The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), which opened for signature in 1996, is intended to prohibit all nuclear weapon test explosions. The CTBT has achieved near universal adherence, however, Article XIV of the Treaty requires ratification by 44 named states, before the Treaty can enter into force. The CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention), etc., are not enough to ban the danger of thee. As the ratification of these treaties is not complete, and even though some states have signed it, the success of the process depends on the states’ goodwill to realize the treaties.

Furthermore, these treaties relate to states only and not to guerrilla or terrorists groups. Guerilla groups and freedom fighters that are not recognized by the international community as legal bodies, have not even signed those treaties. Nevertheless, they rarely use unconventional weapons as they are aware to of the negative public opinion this action will cause. There is a possibility that states that possess non-conventional weapons will turn it over to terrorists groups in order to enhance the strength of them and of the state. But this is merely a speculation as no evidence exists.

The unique problems that unconventional weapon causes are:

a/ Contamination of the environment – Avner Cohen, a nuclear specialist and a participant in the comprehensive nuclear test ban committee held in 1998, said that there is a need for inspection in the Middle-East as a nuclear clash between Iraq and Israel will create a regional catastrophe, as it will destroy the fauna and flora and contaminate the scarce water reservoirs.

b/ The knowledge misusedRichard Gotrey, a genetic scientist claimed that mapping the human genomes will lead to a double track route – the positive one will open new horizons for efficient medicine and drugs but the negative one can be used by terrorists by exploiting ethnic uniqueness thus achieving ethnic cleansing. His comments were delivered after the El-Kaida attempt to obtain and buy biological weapons.

Advances in biotechnology thus create the potential for the misuse of peptide [chemicals made up of short strings of amino-acids] bioregulators in offensive BW programs. Advances in the use of viral and bacterial vectors enhance the possibility for direct delivery of a toxin or bioregulator to the human target or they could be used to transfer the toxin or bioregulator genes to the target.3

Kagan discussed the potential advantages to terrorists of use of such substances-for example, that they are not usually on anyone's threat list, are difficult to diagnose, cannot be vaccinated against, and can cause massive effects over large areas via unusual routes of dispersion.4

Zilinkas hypothesized that the work of Soviet and Aum-Shirinkyo would be likely to serve as precedents for other nations or groups that would attempt to apply advanced biotechnology in research to perfect agents for use in biological weapons but would depend on classical technologies.5 Nevertheless, Zilinkas is aware that mapping the human genome is maybe the first step in developing ethnic BW.

c/ The legal liability of use and distribution of unconventional means to terror and guerilla groups – The international community avoided a serious discussion and decisions how to stop the spreading of non-conventional weapons as it ignored the possibilities to stop the funding, assistance and responsibility for unconventional terrorism (Joseph D. Douglass, Jr. December 26, 2002).

In his book, Bush at War, (2002), Woodward cited Tennet, the head of the CIA (who resigned during 2006 due to the Iraq war) who admitted that in his opinion, a special state is responsible for distributing unconventional terror, but he is not sure whether its Russia or Iraq. Scooter Libby, Cheneys' top aide, was skeptic in the wisdom of connecting terror groups to states, as long as the U.S cannot interfere. Furthermore, he commented that various states use unconventional means in order to achieve political aims. The list is long and includes states like Cuba, PRC (People’s Republic of China), Russia and even Israel.

d/ Lack of appropriate answer to unconventional weapon - chemical and biological weapons are very effective and countermeasures are very secretive and not really tested for their efficiency. The American alleged practice and conclusions in Iraq during the first and second Gulf War is not public knowledge, so nobody can tell for sure whether there are effective means to combat unconventional terror.

e/ The storage and development – due to heavy storage expenses and heavy costs of the research ands development, mainly states possess unconventional means. Selling these weapons is problematic, as no state is willing to expose its unconventional abilities.

f/ Arms race – third world states are developing or buying unconventional weapons in order to stand up against the nuclear ability of the great states. The biological and chemical weapons are some kind of response, designed to retaliate and deter stronger states.

Even though those states that have signed the treaty banning unconventional weapons till 2012, I am doubtful, they will fulfill their commitment as no better and cheaper deterrence exists.

The future poses new dangers:

Technical problems -

a/ The development of biotechnology and genetics can produce a new kinds of toxins, hard to detect therefore hard to take countermeasures..

b/ Combination of biological and chemical compounds will make it difficult to develop anti-dot and antibody.

c/ The progress in technologies and the powers to launch strategic cruise missiles with unconventional war-heads is great.

Political and international problems -

a/ States under embargo and sanctions, like Iran will try to be in possession of knowledge and depend less on import.

b/ States will pledge to international treaties meanwhile convert the chemical and biological industry into military needs.

c/ The brain leak from the former Soviet Union, North Korea and Pakistan will continue.

d/ States will realize the undeveloped potential in granting unconventional weapons to terrorists groups.

The international trend in missiles development

The efficiency on the unconventional weapons depends more on the method of dispersing and launching than on the weapon itself. States concluded that in order to increase the capacity, the chemical or biological substance ought to be launched by a missile. Missile range categories are short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM)—less than 1,000km; medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM)—1,000-3,000km; intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)—3,000-5,500km; and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) — greater than 5,500km.

The international community is trying to curb the missile development and to supervise missiles productive states. But till 2002 only 22 states signed and ratified the MTCR treaty (Missile Technology Control Regime). Since then, 90 more states joined the pact, including Israel and PRC.

The situation in the international arena is a mixed one:

By 1984, North Korea was building its own Scud-Bs and developed two new versions, the Scud-C and Scud-D. It has since developed a medium-range missile, the Nodong, and a long-range missile based on Scud technology, the Taepodong. The Nodong could deliver conventional and WMD warheads throughout most of Japan

(including several U.S. military bases). However, given the missile’s relative inaccuracy, the Nodong is more useful as a “terror weapon” against population centers than as a significant military system—unless it is armed with a nuclear warhead. The Nodong is estimated to have a circular error probable (CEP) of 2-4 kilometers (km), which means half of the Nodongs fired would fall outside a circle of that radius.6 In July 2006 it test-fired a modification to the Taepodong, called the Taepodong-2, which experts say could have a range of up to 6,000km (3,500 miles). The missile failed shortly after launch.7

Since 1999 North Korea halted the long range missile tests, after achieving 5000 km range. It even agreed to stop the missile plans in return for western aid for its satellite plans.

After long negotiations with the U.S, in 2007 North Korea abandoned its nuclear program in exchange for western and American aid.

Middle East and South Asian thinking about BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) also is preliminary because for all intents and purposes, ballistic missiles today remain invulnerable to local defenses. The defensive systems that do exist—such as the American Patriot and the Russian SA-300 air defense system touted by Moscow to have anti-ballistic missile capabilities—are not readily available and their effectiveness is debatable. The Patriot missile system was hailed for its effectiveness in countering Iraqi ballistic missiles in the midst of the Gulf War, but post-war analysis has called into question the Patriot’s battlefield performance; assessments of the Patriot’s success rate range from 40 to 80 percent.8

The intended point of interception is another way of distinguishing BMD. There are generally three intercept points; in initial boost-phase, in midcourse, and the terminal or end of the missile’s trajectory. The Bush administration is leaning toward on the deployment of an NMD system to destroy enemy warheads in the midcourse phase, the point after an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) has burned its fuel and released the warheads but before the warhead reenters the atmosphere. Intercepting ballistic missiles in the earlier and powered phase of trajectory has several advantages over the midcourse intercept, however. Interception in the boost-phase would destroy the entire missile payload including submunitions, decoys, and warheads and be easier to detect because the burning missile is brighter, larger, slower-moving, and more fragile than the warhead. A boost-phase defense, furthermore, could cover a much larger area than a midcourse defense.9

Cruise missiles pose a significant security threat, both alone and in conjunction with ballistic missiles. Gormley attributed the recent proliferation of cruise missile programs to three factors:

Access to specialized knowledge. Most of the emerging programs are being carried out with the help of outsiders, such as technicians from Russia with knowledge of systems engineering and systems integration. Iran's cruise missile programs depend on foreign-trained engineers who developed their skills in France, Germany, Russia, China, and North Korea.

A shift in the narrative on the reasons for acquiring the missiles. States have come to the conclusion that cruise missiles can penetrate an enemy's defenses more easily than ballistic missiles (which have more predictable trajectories and, in theory, are more vulnerable to interception). During the Iraq war in 2003, five crude Iraqi cruise missiles managed to evade U.S. Patriot missile defenses. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf touted his country's new cruise missiles as incapable of being intercepted.

A change in the norms of state behavior regarding missile proliferation. Despite some recent attempts to strengthen legal conventions regarding cruise missile proliferation, many nations do not regard the issue with the same sense of urgency as ballistic missile proliferation, Gormley said. States such as India, South Korea, and Japan have expressed a right to use cruise missiles in preemptive "first strike" attacks against foes. The United States has allowed allies such as South Korea and Taiwan to develop cruise missile programs, and Taiwanese military analysts, too, have been talking about the right to "preventive self-defense" using cruise missiles.

Gormley said the increasing tendency to link land-attack cruise missiles to preemptive strike doctrines has been fueling regional arms races and promoting instability in areas such as South Asia, where both India and Pakistan have been developing cruise missiles that could be used in a war over the disputed Kashmir region.

Looking to the future, Gormley argues that it is time to end the second-class treatment of cruise missiles in nonproliferation policies. He cites the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, adopted in 2002 and subscribed to by 128 nations so far. The Code does not discuss cruise missiles. Gormley also calls for more emphasis under the Missile Technology Control Regime on monitoring illicit activities by skilled engineers who can transfer invaluable knowledge to those seeking to acquire cruise missiles. Taking a more evenhanded approach to spending on ballistic and cruise missile defense programs also would help alleviate the second-class treatment of the cruise missile threat.10

The U.S and Israel reached a mutual understanding that the U.S will assist Israel in a case of long range missile attack. The two states agreed upon technological cooperation in missiles research and development. Even though, during 2007-8 Israel has developed the Jericho3 missile, about the range of 4000 km, in order to retaliate against Iran. The U.S, Israel and Taiwan cooperated in defense missiles testing.

North Korea keeps selling missile technology and Scuds to Iran, Pakistan Egypt, Syria, Vietnam and Libya. Iran and Pakistan further developed the Korean weapons and prolonged its range.

South Korea with American help built in 1999 a 300 km range missile and continues to develop launching abilities.

India declared its intention to develop missile ranging 2000-3000 km.

Russia and China continuously sell missiles to Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Libya.

Bahrain is purchasing missiles from European companies.

The Middle-East region and the unconventional weapon

Four states that are subject to unconventional wars are examined in this paper – Israel, Iran, Syria and Egypt.11 Each of these states was involved or threatened by unconventional warfare.

Unconventional weapons exist in this area since WWII, rarely used but handy. The following examples prove the swiftness of using unconventional weapons:

During the civil war in Yemen, 1963-1967, Egypt used chemical weapons against the royalists. The Egyptian used mustard gas, phosgene, and tear gas. Egypt used Russian made bombs KHAB200, AOKh-25, R5 and abandoned British weapons that were left on Egyptian territory during WWII.

After the “6 Day War” in 1967, reports claimed that Israel captured in the Sinai arsenals of mustard gas, phosgene, and tear gas. Official denial was issued by Egypt.12

Post the “Yom Kippur” war in 1973, Egypt transferred a small amount of chemical weapons to Syria, but no official evidence was shown, even though in an article that was published in the Lebanese journal “Strategy” in 1993, the author claimed that in 1972, Egypt sold to Syria mustard gas and sarin bombs worth 6 million dollars.13

During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), in September 1980, an Iranian plane tried to damage the Iraqi nuclear reactor without any success. In June 1981 Israel bombed the same reactor and destroyed it using conventional bombs.

The Iraqis tried to bomb the Iranian reactor in Bushar in 1984, and again a year later. Both attempts failed.

In the same war, Iraq used chemical weapons against the Iran soldiers. In 1983 Iran filed a complaint against Iraq to the Security Council. As no actions were taken against Iraq, Iran used chemical weapons against Iraq during 1984-1985.14

Later on, after the ceasefire between Iran and Iraq, Iraq bombed the Kurdish minority in Halabche using nerve gas and mustard gas, in order to prevent Kurdish upheaval. About 5000 Kurds were killed. By December 1998, UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission), inspectors had destroyed 38,537 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, 690 metric tons of CW agents, more than 3,275 metric tons of precursor chemicals, over 425 pieces of key production equipment and 125 pieces of analytical instruments.15

In November 2002, following a period of escalating pressure on Iraq, UNMOVIC (United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission), inspection teams were finally allowed access to Iraq. Between 27 November 2002 and 18 March 2003, UNMOVIC conducted 731 inspections covering 411 sites, 88 of which had not been inspected previously. The UNMOVIC inspections were able to verify the destruction of between 30 and 39 per cent of Iraq's declared stockpile of 1.5 metric tons of VX (a neurotoxic chemical warfare agent). They also identified a small number of CW munitions that appeared to have been produced prior to 1990. UNMOVIC concluded that it had not found evidence of the continuation or resumption of WMD programs.16

In 1987, the Libyans used chemical bombs made in Iran against the Chad revolutionaries.

Allegedly, Israel’s air attack on Syria in September 2007 was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.17

Israel – Unconventional weapons and policy

There are a few reasons why Israel has allegedly armed itself with unconventional weapons:

a/ The memory of the holocaust secured the policy of “never again” and Ben-Gurion's policy of an isolated state between hostile neighbors.

b/ The hostile neighborhood that declined for years to negotiate with Israel and initiated wars, conflicts and hostility.

c/ The continuously changing rules of the game in an overwhelmingly Arab coalition required a doomsday weapon.

Allegedly, to Russian reports, Israel has nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.


Israel has the most advanced nuclear weapons program in the Middle East. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, clandestinely established the agenda in the late 1950s to meet the perceived existential threat to the nascent state.18 The program allegedly is centered at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, outside of Dimona. Based on estimates of the plutonium production capacity of the Dimona reactor, Israel has approximately 100-200 nuclear explosive devices.19 Officially, Israel has declared that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East; however, it has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Israel's possession of nuclear weapons and its policy of declaratory ambiguity have led to increase tensions in current Middle East peace discussions and arms control negotiations.

The Israeli policy has not changed ever - during the first Gulf War, Iraq used conventional warheads assembled on its Scuds against Israel, after a cost-effective series of battles against Iran. Israel did not react, in order not to disassemble the American led coalition against Iraq. As Thomas McNaugher pointed out, the missile strikes had great impact on the Iranian moral, and the use of these missiles led to the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war, as Iran agreed to sign the UN Cease-Fire Resolution No. 598.20

In July 2004, however, Israel accepted a visit from International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed El-Baradei. Israeli officials continue to assert that they will address disarmament only after a comprehensive Middle Eastern peace is obtained, and to deny international inspection of the Dimona nuclear complex. Mordechai Vanunu,21 the nuclear bomb spy, refuted the Israeli ambiguousness regarding the official policy. Still, Israel remained decisive in its declarations that it will not be the first state in the Middle East to nuclear the region. Meanwhile, it refuses to commit to the TPN- Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Even though El-Baradei visited Israel in 2006, Israel did not open up the nuclear reactor before him.

In February 2007, Olmert, the Israeli prime-minister, declared that Israel has an answer in case of unconventional attacks against it.

The estimation is that Israel has 100-200 executive nuclear bombs.


Israel's neighboring states allege that Israel has an offensive biological weapon (BW) program, but there are no reliable sources on specific biological agents the Israelis may possess.22 Reportedly, Israeli specialized military-units sabotaged water wells with typhoid and dysentery bacteria in Acre (near Haifa), Palestine during the 1948 war, but evidence of such events is fragmentary. Speculation that the production is located at the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona has raised both international and domestic concerns.23 Activists within the Israeli community have recently protested the expansion of the Institute due to reports, denied by Israeli officials, of multiple injuries and deaths within the facility and one near-evacuation of the surrounding area. Israel is not a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). In 2001, Israel's foreign and defense ministries reassessed policy with regard to the BWC, but no change in approach has yet been made public.


While there are allegations that Israel has an advanced chemical weapons (CW) program, no confirmed evidence of production or stockpiling exists. Some reports have suggested an offensive CW program is located at the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Ziona.24 In October 1992, an El Al airliner carrying a cargo of approximately 50 gallons of dimethyl methylphosphonate (a widely used stimulant for defensive research but also a possible precursor of sarin nerve agent) destined for the Institute crashed in Amsterdam.25 Israel stated that this material was being imported to test gas masks. Israel has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).26


Israel's missile program began in the 1960s. Israel has a varied missile industry, having developed ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as missile defense systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).27 The Jericho ballistic missiles series was initiated in the 1960s with French assistance, beginning with the short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) Jericho-1 with a 500 km range. In the 1970s, Israel developed the intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) Jericho-2, a two-stage, solid-fueled missile with a range of 1,500 to 3,500 km.28 There are some unconfirmed reports that suggest the existence of a 4,800 km-range Jericho-3 missile that may stem from Israel's space launch vehicle, the Shavit. Israel has also developed, with U.S. financial assistance, the Arrow defense missile, which has become one of the only functioning missile defense systems in the earth. In addition to these systems, Israel has become a leading exporter of UAVs. Israel is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), though it has pledged to abide by the MTCR Guidelines. Israel has recently reported to have successfully tested the Arrow-2 anti-ballistic missile system, as well as new long-range guided missiles.

Iran – Unconventional weapons and policy

Iran's chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, and possibly its nuclear weapon program and biological warfare capabilities, are meant to deter opponents and to increase influence in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea regions. Iran under the Ayatollah regime aims to achieve regional supremacy and the leadership of the Muslim World. On the other hand, the acquisition and creation of these various weapon systems can also be seen as a response to Iran's own experience as a victim of chemical and missile attacks during the Iran-Iraq War.


By early June 2005, the EU-3 (France, Great Britain, and Germany) had not yet submitted their plan to Iran outlining future nuclear negotiations. The EU-3 requested a postponement in dialogues, but Tehran rejected the delay and publicly announced it would resume peaceful nuclear research activities.29 At issue was Iran's insistence that right to peaceful nuclear research be included in any proposal, a position the US adamantly opposed. Attempts were made to persuade Iran to give up its fuel cycle ambitions and accept nuclear fuel from abroad, but Tehran made it clear that any proposal that did not guarantee Iran's access to peaceful nuclear technology would lead to the break of all nuclear related negotiations with the EU-3. In addition, members of the Iranian Majlis, scientists, scholars, and students were protesting and holding rallies to support the administration to lift the moratorium on uranium enrichment and to not succumb to foreign (U.S.) pressure. One week later, Iran once again agreed to temporarily freeze its nuclear program until the end of July when the EU agreed it would put forward an offer for the next round of discussions.

In June, IAEA Deputy Director, Pierre Goldschmidt, stated that Iran admitted to providing incorrect information about past experiments involving plutonium. Tehran claimed all such researches ceased in 1993, but results from recent tests showed that experiments took a place as late as 1995 and 1998.30 In early July, Iran asked the IAEA if it could break UN seals and test nuclear-related equipment, stating the testing would not violate Tehran's voluntary suspension of nuclear activities. At the end of July, an official letter was submitted to the IAEA stating that the seals at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) would be removed. The IAEA requested that it be yielded 10 days to install the necessary surveillance equipment. On 1 August, Iran reminded the EU-3 that 3 August would be the last opportunity for a recommendation to be presented to continue discussions. A few days later, the European Union submitted the Framework for a Long-term Agreement proposal to Iran.31 The proposal specifically called on Iran to exclude fuel-cycle related activity. Tehran immediately rejected the suggestion as a negation of its inalienable rights. On 8 August, nuclear activities resumed at the Isfahan UCF and two days later, IAEA seals were removed from the remaining parts of the system lines with IAEA inspectors present.

In the days leading up to Iran's resumption of nuclear activities, several countries called on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and to re-establish full suspension of all enrichments’ related activities. Additionally, some European countries and the United States threatened to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. Once again, Iran rejected any proposal related to the suspension of conversion activities, but stated they were ready to continue negotiations. Tehran did not believe there was any legal basis for referral to the UN Security council and believed it was only a political move. Iran also threatened to stop all negotiations, prevent any further inspections at all its nuclear facilities, suspend the application of the Additional Protocol, and withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), if it was referred to the UN Security Council.32

In August 2005, the IAEA announced that most of the highly enriched uranium (HEU) particle contamination traced at various locations in Iran was found to be of foreign origin. The IAEA concluded much of the HEU found on centrifuge parts were from imported Pakistani equipment, rather than from any enrichment activities conducted by Iran.

In late August, Iran began announcing it would be resuming nuclear activities in Natanz and that Tehran would be willing to negotiate as long as there were no conditions. In August, Iran refused to comply with a resolution from the IAEA to halt its nuclear program, stating that making nuclear fuel was its right as a member of the NPT. The European Union believed that although Iran did have a right to nuclear energy under Article 4 of the NPT, it had lost that right because it violated Article 2 of the NPT - "not to seek or receive any help in the manufacture of nuclear related weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." On 24 September 2005, the IAEA found Iran in non-compliance of the NPT. The ruling passed with 21 votes of agreement, 12 abstentions, and one opposing vote. Russia and China were among those that abstained from voting and Venezuela was the only country to vote against the decision. The resolution stated Iran's non-compliance due to "many failures and breaches" over nuclear safeguards of the NPT were grounds for referral to the UN Security Council.

The resolution passed on 24 September 2005, leaving the door open for future referral of Iran to the Security Council was finally adopted in February, 2006. On 4 February, the 35-nation board of the IAEA voted to “report” Iran to the Security Council over its finding published in January, to restart nuclear research. Iran has rejected the above resolution calling it, “illegal, illogical and politically motivated” and has decided to scrap the “containment and surveillance measures” as defined under the 1997 Additional Protocol. Iran has also resumed small scale enrichment activities at its Natanz facility as of 16 February. In a parallel diplomatic process Russia continues to pursue negotiations with Iran that would allow Russia to host Iran's uranium enrichment program leaving only the uranium conversion to be carried out on Iranian soil. The international community is still trying to avoid the end of the Iranian nuclear enrichment program.

As of 17th November 2008, 9956 kg of UF6 had been fed into the cascades since February 2007, and a total of 839 kg of low enriched UF6 had been produced. The results also showed that the enrichment level of this low enriched UF6 product verified by the Agency was 3.49% U-235. Iran has estimated that, between 18 November 2008 and 31 January 2009, it produced an additional 171 kg of low enriched UF6. The nuclear material at FEP (including the feed, product and tails), as well as all installed cascades, remain under Agency containment and surveillance.

On 29 September 2008, the Agency conducted a PIV at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP), the results of which confirm the physical inventory as declared by Iran, within the measurement uncertainties normally associated with such a facility. Between 29 October 2008 and 15 January 2009, Iran fed a total of approximately 50 kg of UF6 into the 20-machine IR-1 cascade, the 10-machine IR-2 cascade and the single IR-1, IR-2 and IR-3 centrifuges. The nuclear material at PFEP, as well as the cascade area, remains under Agency containment and surveillance. Iran has transferred a few kilograms of low enriched UF6 produced at PFEP to the Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories at the Tehran Nuclear Research Centre for research and development purposes.33

According to IAEA report dated 4th March 2009, that contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities or its work on heavy water-related projects, including the construction of the heavy water moderated research reactor, IR-40, and the production of fuel for that reactor.34

On 1st February 2009, 3936 centrifuges were being fed with UF6; 1476 centrifuges were installed and under vacuum, and an additional 125 centrifuges were installed but not under vacuum.35

In the beginning of the Obama Presidency, in 2009, the U.S adopted the two edged diplomacy - to start negotiating with Iran in order to halt the nuclear program or otherwise U.S will impose sanctions on her.

Iranian intentions to achieve nuclear ability are not contained to Iran only, as Iran is more than willing to assist each state that would alter the fragile nuclear balance. Its assistance to Alger can be viewed as a strategy to threat the EU but also as a resort to continue its nuclear plant outside Iran, in a case that Israel or the US will attack its nuclear plants.

On November 25, 2006, Algerian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Shakib Khalil announced that Algeria would launch a nuclear energy program in order to exploit the country’s substantial uranium deposits.36 Three days later on November 28, Khalil visited Tehran, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered to provide assistance to Algeria’s new nuclear undertaking, stating that Iran was willing “to share its expertise in different fields with Algeria, including peaceful nuclear technology.”37 Khalil was quoted as replying that Algeria “is very interested in Iranian expertise in various fields, especially in oil, gas, and nuclear energy” and that it “is prepared to establish relations with Iran based on common interests.”38

Concerns about Algerian intentions could be heightened by the suspicions Algeria raised in the early 1990s, before it joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), that it was seeking the capability to produce nuclear arms.
In discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) several weeks prior to the November 25 announcement of Algeria’s new nuclear plans, Khalil stated that Algeria’s goal was the “integrated development of the entire nuclear sector and its applications: seawater desalinization, industry, agriculture, medicine, the environment and, in particular, electricity.”39 In the late 1990s, Algeria’s exploitable deposits of uranium were thought to be limited and to pose an obstacle to the country’s development of a self-sufficient nuclear energy program.

Algeria abstained in two key votes at the IAEA, which, respectively, found Tehran to be in noncompliance with its IAEA inspection agreement and referred the Iran case to the UN for further action.40

Close nuclear ties between Algeria and Iran could complicate international nonproliferation efforts in a number of ways. Of particular concern is that Iran might clandestinely assist Algeria in developing a uranium enrichment capability.41 Even if Algeria were to claim it had developed this capability indigenously and placed it under IAEA safeguards, however, the result would still be the emergence of an additional state possessing at least the latent capability to manufacture nuclear weapons and known to have regional leadership ambitions. At a time when the United States and many other nations are seeking to slow the further spread of this sensitive technology, such a development would be a setback to international nonproliferation efforts, even if Algeria never misused this capability.42 Concerns about the potential for misuse, however, could arise given Algeria’s nuclear history. In 1991, prior to joining the NPT, Algeria secretly acquired a 15-megawatt research reactor from China, raising suspicions about the possible development of nuclear weapons.43 These suspicions were significantly eased when Algeria agreed to place the reactor under IAEA inspections and, in 1995, joined the NPT. Nonetheless, as recently as 2004, rumors circulated that Algeria was engaged in nuclear activities with military overtones.44

In the meantime, some analysts have suggested that Ahmadinejad is seeking Algeria’s aid in serving as a mediator with the West on the Iranian nuclear controversy. They speculate that Ahmadinejad sees Algiers, having recently built closer ties with Washington, as an intermediary that both sides trust.45 With the UN Security Council having imposed sanctions on Iran and Ahmadinejad refusing to slow Iran’s uranium enrichment and plutonium production activities, it remains to be seen whether Algeria will step into this role and what it might accomplish, if it does so.


There is very little publicly available information to determine whether Iran is pursuing a biological weapon program. Although Iran acceded to the Geneva Protocol in 1929 and ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1973, the U.S. government believes Iran began biological weapon efforts in the early to mid-1980s, and that it continues to pursue an offensive biological weapon program linked to its civilian biotechnology activities.46 The United States alleges that Iran may have started to develop small quantities of agent, possibly including mycotoxins, ricin, and the smallpox virus.47 Iran strongly denies acquiring or producing biological weapons.48

Chemical Iran suffered severe losses from the use of Iraqi chemical weapons over the period 1982 to 1988. As a consequence Iran has a great deal of experiences of the effects of chemical warfare (CW). Iran has continued to maintain a significant defensive CW capability since the end of the Gulf War in 1988. The most important incentive for this effort was probably a concern that Iraq continued to possess chemical weapons. Iran ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in November 1997 and has been an active participant in the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Iran has publicly acknowledged the existence of a chemical weapons program enhanced during the latter stages of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.49 On ratifying the CWC Iran opened its facilities to international inspection and claimed that all offensive CW activities had been terminated and the facilities destroyed. Nevertheless, the United States has continued to claim that Iran continues an active program of promotion and production of chemical weapons. This production reportedly includes the production of sarin, mustard, phosgene, and hydrocyanic acid. The U.S. government estimates that Iran can manufacture 1,000 metric tons of agents per year and may have a stockpile of at least several thousand metric tons of weaponized and bulk agent. Open-sources do not provide unambiguous support to these accusations. Iran strongly denies producing or possessing chemical weapons. To date the United States has not pursued possibilities available to it under international law to convincingly demonstrate Iranian noncompliance with the CWC.50

Iran is committed to the development of its civilian and military industries and this has involved an ongoing process of modernization and expansion in the chemical industry aimed at reducing dependence on foreign suppliers of materials and technology. Due to U.S. claims of ongoing chemical weapons production Iran encounters regular difficulties with chemical industry related imports that are restricted by members of the Australia Group.


Iran possesses one of the largest missile inventories in the Middle East and has acquired complete missile systems and developed an infrastructure to build missiles indigenously. It has purchased North Korean Scud-Bs, Scud-Cs, and Nodong ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, Iran has also developed short-range artillery rockets and is producing the Scud-B and the Scud-C—called the Shehab-151 and Shehab-2, respectively. Iran recently flight-tested the 1,300 km-range Shehab-3, which is based on the North Korean Nodong. The Shehab-3 is capable of reaching Israel. Following this most recent flight-test, the Shehab-3 was placed in service and revolutionary guard units were officially armed with the missiles.52 There are conflicting reports about the development of even longer-ranged missiles, such as the Shehab-4 and the Kosar intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). US intelligence agencies assess that barring acquisition of a complete system or major subsystem from North Korea, Iran is unlikely to launch an ICBM or satellite launch vehicle (SLV) before mid-decade. At present, Iran's capabilities in missile production have kept in line with its doctrine of protection from regional threats. Iran has developed new missiles including the Ra'ad and Kosar and continues to test its Nodong based, Shehab-3 missile.

On October 20, 2004, Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani confirmed the latest successful test of Iran's Shehab-3 with a 2,000-kilometer range in front of observers.

Iran has openly declared its capacity to mass produce the Shehab-3 medium-range missile. Intelligence reports regarding Iran's expansion of capabilities and persistent interest in acquiring new technologies have led the US to seek other options in dealing with Iran as a regional threat.


The arms race in the Middle-East includes all types and methods of warfare. The states are not interested in changing the international order, but to maintain a sustainable level of deterring.

The unconventional weapons and knowledge, even if hard to obtain legally, is sold by states like Pakistan, North Korea and PRC, in order to increase their powerful influence and prestige in the international arena. The EU, Russia and the U.S also provide chemical ingredients used for element weapons to various states that can transfer it to third party which can be a terror group. This is not yet the case-as, we've observed – terror groups rarely use unconventional weapons. This privilege is the states'.

The effort to control unconventional weapons by a string of international treaties has failed – even if a state pledges itself to the pact, the treaties lack punishing abilities therefore their capacity is very limited.

The states in the Middle-East invest huge amounts of resources in order to develop, produce and maintain the unconventional deterrence, as the area is in an arm race. The contradicting religions, ideologies and heterogeneity of the states, together with inferiority feelings make peace process almost impossible.

The international treaties lack ability to prevent unconventional weaponization either by states or guerilla groups. The lack of international definition of “Terror State” prevents any possibility of international resistance and action. Therefore, the only remaining solution is local activity against states armed with unconventional weapons.












Feasible (1963, 1967)




feasible (1984-1989)




feasible (1983, 1987-1988)









Saudi Arabia
















1 Toward a National Biodefense Strategy Challenges and Opportunities April 2003, Center for Counterproliferation Research, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair Washington, DC.

W. Seth Carus, Bioterrorism and Biocrimes: The Illicit Use of Biological Agents Since 1900, working

paper (Washington, DC: Center for Counterproliferation Research, National Defense University, February 2001). See also Jonathan B. Tucker, ed., Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000); Joshua Lederberg, ed., Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999).

2 Milton Leitenberg, “An Assessment of the Biological Weapons Threat to the United States,” The

Journal of Homeland Security, January 2001.

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