We are the Village Green Nuclear Weapon Preservation Societies
SPND (سپند) is an insidious and devious organization. Its officials hide behind pseudonyms. SPND has dozens of front companies that it uses to covertly procure sensitive nuclear-related equipment. They groom university students to unwittingly do research with the ultimate aim of preserving Iran's capabilities to one day produce nuclear weapons.
And as we're going to show in today's post, SPND has also established or taken over various Iranian professional associations for key engineering disciplines, with the goal of secretly promoting SPND's goals, spotting talent, and legitimizing SPND's covert work.
Today we're revealing three of Iran's top engineering associations as SPND fronts. They are:
- the Nuclear Society of Iran (انجمن هسته ای ایران)
- the Iranian Scientific Association of Energetic Materials (انجمن مواد پرانرژی ایران) and
- the Acoustical Engineering Society of Iran (انجمن مهندسی صوتیات ایران)
Here's how we can prove all that.
The Nuclear Society of Iran
The Nuclear Society of Iran (or NSI) presents itself as the peak body for individuals working in Iran's nuclear research sector. Look at the CV of any Iranian academic involved in nuclear research, and chances are you'll find that they are a member of the NSI.
Which makes it a perfect body to bring under the SPND umbrella.
The NSI has always had close ties to Iran's historic nuclear weapon research establishment. Established in 2003, the NSI's first directors included Dr Fereydoon Abbasi Davani (فریدون عباسی دوانی, ID: 1818879433) and Dr Majid Shahriari (مجید شهریاری), two physicists who at that moment had just been made jobless after the halting of the AMAD nuclear weapons program, in which they had key design roles.
Abbasi-Davani is still one of the NSI's six board members. Dr Shahriari, you'll recall, was one of those Iranian nuclear scientists who were murdered by assassins, probably because of his past secret work in conducting nuclear weapon R&D.
Damagingly, at least two current other NSI board members are confirmed members of SPND. First, Ruhollah Ghaderi Beromi (روح الله قادری, ID: 4579489705), who the US Treasury designated in March 2019 as a director at SPND's Shahid Fakhar Moghaddam Group, where he oversees manufacturing and production. Second, there's SPND old-timer Gholamreza Etaati (غلامرضا اطاعتی, ID: 0057568111).
And in case you had any doubt of extent of military control over the NSI's board of directors, Ghaderi and Etaati are also joined by an academic from the IRGC-controlled Imam Hossein University, Ebrahim Haji Ali (ابراهیم حاجی علی, ID: 0602308641), as well as an old protegee of Abbasi Davani and Shahriari named Nikoo Darestani Farahani (نیکو دارستانی فراهانی, ID: 00533062330).
With all those connections between NSI and SPND, you won't be surprised to learn that SPND is a sponsor of the NSI's flagship annual event, the Iranian Nuclear Conference. Check out this poster from the most recent event, in February 2019:
This is the logo of the Institute of Applied Physics, an SPND front run by none other than Ruhollah Ghaderi.
We'd say "follow the money", but you really don't even need to bother doing that to see that the Nuclear Society of Iran is clearly a cut-out for SPND.
And they're not the only one.
The Iranian Scientific Association of Energetic Materials (ISAEM)
The Iranian Scientific Association of Energetic Materials is a scientific society dedicated to the study of explosives, so it doesn't take much brainpower to imagine why SPND might be interested in this organization.
Indeed, SPND has had a hand in the running of ISAEM for some time - so far as Iran Redline knows, there has been at least one SPND representative on ISAEM's board for at least the last decade. That used to be SPND explosives guru Akbar Motalebizadeh (اکبر مطلبی زاده, ID: 4430516261), but now is SPND explosives guru Mohammad Ferdowsi (محمد فردوسی, ID: 5649225621). The rest of the board is stacked with representatives from SPND-friendly institutes like Malek Ashtar University (such as Yadollah Bayat یداله بیات, ID: 4170887778), and Imam Hossein University (namely Mohammad Ali Dehnavi محمد علی دهنوی, ID: 3359192753).
And there's more.
Acoustical Engineering Society of Iran
Slightly less obvious as a target for SPND interest is the Acoustical Engineering Society of Iran (AESI), in which SPND also has a controlling stake. As much as we'd like to imagine the AESI's raison d'etre is making YouTube videos for unboxing noise-cancelling headphones and expensive home hi-fi equipment, the science of acoustic engineering unfortunately has particular utility for far more nefarious purposes: areas like shock physics and the interaction of surfaces are of key interest to acoustic engineers, but also to people making nuclear weapons. Hence the importance of this society to SPND.
The AESI has been SPND-linked from the outset. Its long-term chairman is Khodadad Vahedi (خداداد واحدی, ID: 390839383), who previously ran a failed project under the auspices of his company Pakravesh Tazrigh (شرکت پاکروش تزریق), which nowadays focuses on more profitable product lines like make-up removers and alcohol rubs. As well as being tied to SPND, Vahedi is a professor of acoustic engineering at the IRGC's own Imam Hossein University.
Vahedi's longtime deputy head of the AESI is another individual who we think might have been frequently lurking around SPND headquarters, Hamidreza Massah (حمیدرضا مساح, ID: 0049599151). Massah suffers heavily from guilt by association: one of his frequent co-authors is AMAD man and NSI director Fereydoon Abbasi Davani; another is Ehsan Solki (احسان سلکی), an acoustic expert who has written books for SPND's fledgling publishing house, Sepand Ghalam. Both Massah and Solki have also routinely published under the affiliation of a mysterious "Institute of Audio" (پژوهشکده صوتیات), which we think might be part of or another name for SPND's Shahid Kazemi Group (گروه شهید کاظمی).
Of course, you don't have to go poking around in corporate records to find the connection between the AESI and SPND. As was the case with the Nuclear Society of Iran, SPND also sponsors the AESI's premier conference, the Congress of the Acoustical Engineering Society of Iran. If you squint, you can even see the SPND logo on the podium at last year's event. Here it is:
These are almost certainly not the only
academic associations or industrial groups controlled by SPND.
Rest assured, we'll continue looking for them!