Special Industries Organization (SIO)

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Last Updated: August 1, 2008
Other Name: Organization of Special Industries; Special Industrial Groups of the Ministry of Defense (MIDSPCIG)
Location: One source reports the headquarters are located on Zartosht Street in Teheran. Reports published in Russia, apparently based on information developed by the Russian Federal Security Service, claim the organization is located at the Gostaresh Research Center northeast of Tehran.
Subordinate To: Iranian Ministry of Defense; supervised by the Science and Technology Group
Size: 4,000 employees and five branches. As of January 1999, 14 Russian, Chinese, and Korean experts were working for the Organization. [1]
Facility Status: Unknown

The Special Industries Organization (SIO) was created by the President in January 1999. Another report claimed the SIO was set up by President Rafsanjani as a 250-man agency within the Presidential Services in 1993 to develop chemical weapons. This agency is independent of the Council of Ministers.

The SIO oversees and coordinates various scientific programs. The Biological Research Center is the branch dedicated to biological weapons development. The Laboratory, also located in Tehran, is another branch of the Organization. [2]

Camouflaged by trees, facilities known as Shahid Meisam were reportedly built alongside the Tehran-Karaj expressway as storage sites for artillery shells filled with chemical products en route to Revolutionary Guard units. Due to lax safety measures, a number of the 1,000 workers in the storage facilities are said to have fallen ill and died.

Dr. Abbas Pour, one of the president's advisors and the head of the Vira Laboratory, was named head of SIO. Dr. Gholamhossein Riazi heads the fermenter project. According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the project has succeeded in producing several fermenters with a capacity of more than 100 liters. [3] Brigadier General Mohammad Fa'ezi, head of the Special Industry Training Center, is said to be in charge of handling the affairs of the foreign specialists who have been recruited to work on Iran's biological warfare program.

Two Swiss firms, Bio Engineering (a subsidiary of Bayer AG) and MBR Company, had been selling fermenters to Iran in the 1990s that were claimed to be entirely for civilian use. Company officials insisted that the Iranian purchasers were the Ministry of Agriculture and an entity they identified as MIDSPGIC Co. However, the People's Mujahadin of Iran claimed that MIDSPGIC is an abbreviation for the Special Industries Organization of the Defense Ministry. Bio Engineering was attacked two times in 1992, once at its office outside of Zurich (apparently by a terrorist group) and once at its Munich-based delivery company. Equipment destroyed in the attacks included a 15-liter lab fermenter and a 750 production fermenter, similar to those used by Iraq for its BW program.

Sources:
[1] "Clerical Regime's Quest for Biological Weapons & Germ Arsenal," p. 4.
[2] "Clerical Regime's Quest for Biological Weapons & Germ Arsenal," p. 2.
[3] "Clerical Regime's Quest for Biological Weapons & Germ Arsenal," p. 2.
[4] Arnold Beichman, "Arsenal of Germs in Iran?" Washington Times, 26 January 1999, p. A17.
[5] "Clerical Regime's Quest for Biological Weapons and Germ Arsenal," remarks to the Press by Soona Samsami, US Representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, 26 January 1999.
[6] Defense Industries Organization, GlobalSecurity.org.
[7] "Biological Weapons Program Alleged," The Iran Brief, Middle East Data Project, Inc., 1 May 1995.
[8] "Iran's Chemical Build-Up," Intelligence Newsletter, Indigo Publications, 9 November 1995.

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