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Showing posts from 2022

The revolving door of SPND leadership spins again

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 Well, blow us down. SPND has a new boss! Again! We'd not even had time to settle in and get used to the tenure of IRGC official Mehdi Farahi, who'd been drafted in to replace the assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh as head of Iran's premier defense-industrial-definitely-not-nuclear-weapons-research outfit. As things turn out, Farahi headed SPND for less than six months - a paltry record after Fakhrizadeh's 20 year plus run in charge of SPND or its predecessor organizations.   We're a bit sad about that, as Mehdi Farahi was a favorite punching bag for us at Redline HQ. There wasn't a single guidance system or carbon fiber production factory that Farahi couldn't bungle in his previous incarnations looking at things  overseeing business in Iran's missile industry. Perhaps the SPND hot seat was just a little too toasty for Farahi's ample buttocks.   A big (if admittedly slightly belated) welcome, then to the new new head of SPND - Dr Reza Mozafari

SPND adores the Ava Institute

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Do you like pictures of spaceships and Ayatollah Khamenei? Do you enjoy fan fiction about SPND? And do you really hate changing your phone number? If you answered yes to all those questions, have we got a sweet find for you! Redline has just discovered an amazing new Iranian publication, the Ayandeh (آینده) magazine. It's the in-house journal of a new, Tehran-based futurist think-tank, the Ava Institute (مؤسسه آینده نگاری و ایده پروری آوا or موسسه آوا). Ayandeh magazine is a cracking read, with articles on cutting-edge technology, musings on religion and philosophy, and short stories designed to provoke insights about what lies ahead for humankind. The graphic design is good too: the magazine is full of inspirational images of renowned thinkers and thought-leaders like Albert Einstein, Steven Hawking, and Tom Cruise in Minority Report. There's just one thing... We're pretty sure that the Ava Institute is a front for SPND, the shadowy defence research organization that empl

How SPND is at the heart of Iran's Novichok research - Part II

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In this post we're continuing our deep dive into Iran's research on novel chemical weapons, which we think is being spearheaded by SPND. You can read the first part of this work here . In that article, we revealed that Iran's internationally-certified chemical weapons research laboratory, the DCRL, is co-located with and probably controlled by an SPND entity, the Shahid Meisami Research Group.   In this article, we pinpoint the person responsible for Iran's work on novel chemical weapons - and his close ties to SPND.   The man behind Iran's novichok work   Dr Mehran Babri ( مهران ببری , ID: 0050111078) is one of Iran's foremost experts on the science of chemical weapons. With more than 25 years of experience in chemistry, he's an expert in gas chromotograph mass spectrometry - an extremely precise means of measuring chemical compounds, and of detecting the presence of chemical weapon agents in environmental samples. Babri's published research

Revealed: SPND involved in research on Novichok chemical agents, Part I

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Today, we can reveal that the primary Iranian laboratory responsible for work on chemical warfare agents, including novichoks, has frighteningly close ties to SPND (سازمان پژوهش و نوآوری دفاعی), the shadowy organization that ran Iran's pre-2003 nuclear weapons program and continues to dabble in dual-use research with WMD applications.  We'll also reveal in our next post that the main Iranian scientist responsible for synthesizing these agents is on the SPND payroll.  And, even more disturbingly, that this individual has also spearheaded Iran's efforts to infiltrate and undermine the international organization charged with preventing the proliferation of chemical weapons. How do we know all this? Read on... Iran and chemical weapons: some background At face value, Iran abhors chemical weapons. Iran is one of the few states to have suffered wide-scale chemical weapon (CW) use against its population, and has maintained a famously strong public stance against CWs  since the che

SPND goes bio: the Stem Cell Technology Research Center

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Redline Headquarters The Internet Dear Western biotechnology researcher, We're pleased to meet you! You're probably visiting this web page because you've googled your prospective Iranian research or business partner, the Stem Cell Technology Research Center (شرکت فناوری بن یاخته), and you want to know a bit more about who you're dealing with. Great move! That's called "due diligence". Unfortunately, we have some bad news for you. The Stem Cell Technology Research Center (STRC) is actually a front for Iran's military and IRGC. It's owned and run by officials from Iran's military industries, and is probably involved in covert procurement of equipment and expertise for Iran's defence sector. If we had to place a bet, we'd say that the STRC is part of the SPND (سپند) organization - a military-run hub for remnants and holdouts from Iran's pre-2003 nuclear weapons program, and also a home to scientists who like playing on the boundaries o

Mohammad Eslami, head of the AEOI - who is he really?

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Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi spent much of his first few months in office since August last year sweeping out the remnants of any former government ministers who might have a whiff of reformism or internationalism about them. One victim of this clean-out has been the urbane Ali Akbar Salehi (علی اکبر صالحی), who headed the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI or سازمان انرژی اتمی ایران) from 2009 to 2010 and then again from 2013, and was for all intents and purposes the public face of Iran's nuclear program. Salehi made a famous double-act with US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, teaming up in the JCPOA talks to wrestle together a highly complex and technical negotiated agreement. With Raisi at the helm, negotiations with the enemy are no longer in vogue, and Salehi is out. And Salehi's replacement is someone who has what we in the Iran nuclear fanboy/fangirl community would call "form" - that distinctive characteristic of having been so deeply involved in