Today, the Departments of State and the Treasury designated 31 Iranian entities and individuals under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD delivery systems and their supporters. The 14 individuals and 17 entities designated today are all linked to Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, also known by its Persian acronym, SPND.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – commonly known as the head of the Amad plan, Iran’s pre-2004 nuclear weapons program – established SPND in February 2011. According to the IAEA, work on the Amad plan was stopped pursuant to a “halt order” issued by the Iranian leadership in late 2003. However, Iran preserved its Amad-era records, and Fakhrizadeh assumed the principal organizational role as the head of SPND.
SPND has employed as many as 1500 individuals – including numerous researchers associated with the Amad plan, who continue to carry out dual-use research and development activities, of which aspects are potentially useful for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons delivery systems. Further, SPND’s subordinate organizations spend millions of dollars each year on a broad spectrum of projects. The United States designated SPND under E.O. 13382 in November 2014 for its proliferation-sensitive activities.
As the world has learned from the recently-discovered secret Iranian nuclear archive – which revealed the names of some of the individuals sanctioned today – unanswered questions remain regarding Iran’s undisclosed past nuclear-related activities under the Amad plan, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.
These designations reaffirm the importance of demanding a full and honest accounting from Iran of its past nuclear weapons related activities, particularly in light of: (1) Iran’s decision to maintain a secret nuclear archive; (2) Fakhrizadeh’s continued leadership of SPND; (3) SPND scientists’ continued proliferation-sensitive research and experiments, and (4) SPND’s use of subsidiary organizations, front companies, and procurement agents to acquire dual-use items from third-country suppliers.
Our actions today show the flaws in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), why the United States was right to cease participation in it, and the importance of also permanently ensuring Iran is unable to reconstitute any past weapons-related activities in the future. This is why Secretary Pompeo has called for a new comprehensive deal that permanently ends all paths to a nuclear weapon, demands that Iran fully account for its past nuclear weapons activities, submit to unqualified International Atomic Energy Agency access, halt all enrichment activities, and close its heavy water reactor.
Today’s sanctions continue the U.S. efforts to exert maximum pressure on the Iranian regime to address the threat it poses to international peace and security. In addition to the blocking of any U.S. assets, the sanctioned individuals and entities will be denied access to the U.S. financial system and non-U.S. persons will be exposed to sanctions for providing material support to these targets.
Individuals working for Iran’s proliferation-related programs – including scientists, procurement agents, and technical experts – should be aware of the reputational and financial risk they expose themselves to by working for Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s next generation of scientists has two paths: they can use their skills pursuing noble work outside of the WMD realm, or they can work for Iranian proliferation organizations and risk being sanctioned. Iranian technical experts should not waste their talent by working in support of Iran’s proliferation programs.