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Defense Industries Organization (DIO) (Missile)

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The state-owned Defense Industries Organization (DIO), founded in 1981 in a post-revolutionary effort to reorganize and expand Iran’s defense industry, is one of the main subsidiaries of the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics.1 According to ISIS, “its primary responsibility is meeting the requirements of the armed forces of Iran, but it also exports products and engineering services.”2 The DIO controls dozens of state-owned defense contractors and front companies either directly or through its main subsidiary, the Aerospace Industries Organization.3

Through its domestic false-flag enterprises and front companies abroad, set up to circumvent international sanctions, the DIO has played an important role in Iran’s ballistic missile development program. The DIO has orchestrated hundreds of illicit procurement operations, which have resulted in a series of ongoing U.S. and international sanctions against the DIO and its subsidiaries.4 For example, from 2006 to 2008 the DIO purchased tungsten, high-strength steels and other exotic metals relevant to missile production from an unnamed Chinese company, using a convoluted web of false-flag companies.5


Ballistic missile
A delivery vehicle powered by a liquid or solid fueled rocket that primarily travels in a ballistic (free-fall) trajectory.  The flight of a ballistic missile includes three phases: 1) boost phase, where the rocket generates thrust to launch the missile into flight; 2) midcourse phase, where the missile coasts in an arc under the influence of gravity; and 3) terminal phase, in which the missile descends towards its target.  Ballistic missiles can be characterized by three key parameters - range, payload, and Circular Error Probable (CEP), or targeting precision.  Ballistic missiles are primarily intended for use against ground targets.


  1. Steven R. Ward, Immortal: A Military History of Iran and its Armed Forces (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2009), p. 263.
  2. “Nuclear Iran, Nuclear Sites, Defense Industries Organization,” Institute for Science and International Security, www.isisnucleariran.org.
  3. United Nations, “Individuals and Entities Designated as Subject to the Travel Ban, Travel Notification Requirement, and Assets Freeze Pursuant to Resolution 1737 (2006) of 23 December 2006, 1747 (2007) of 24 March 2007 and 1803 (2008) of 3 March 2008,” Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006), www.un.org.
  4. UNSCR 1737 sanctioned the DIO, and in March 2007 the U.S. State Department sanctioned the DIO pursuant to Executive Order 13382, which aimed to “freeze the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters.” The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also added the DIO to its blocked persons list. The U.S. had also previously sanctioned the DIO under the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act, the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act; U.S. Department of State, “Executive Order 13382,” www.state.gov; “U.S. Department of the Treasury,” “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List,” www.ustreas.gov.
  5. John Eligon and William J. Broad, “Indictment Says Banned Materials Sold to Iran,” The New York Times, 7 April 2009, www.nytimes.com.


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