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Parchin Military Complex (Missile)

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The large complex at Parchin is alleged to produce chemical weapons, and to conduct experiments with laser enrichment technology and high explosive testing for nuclear weapons. 1 According to an ISIS analysis, the complex is “dedicated to research, development, and production of ammunition, rockets, and high explosives.” 2 Although uncertainties remain about the extent of Parchin’s missile-related development and production activities, experts such as Yonah Alexander suspect the complex is involved in the development and production of liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. 3 One structure at the complex reportedly possesses a launch pad designed for testing small rocket motors. 4 Furthermore, a Fajr-3 missile assembly line that uses North Korean missile manufacturing technology is alleged to exist at the site. 5

In November 2007, a series of explosions at Parchin caused a large fire. 6 The exiled Iranian dissident group The National Council of Resistance of Iran asserted that the explosions started in the missile industries section of the complex, an allegation denied by Iranian authorities. 7


Chemical Weapon (CW)
The CW: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons defines a chemical weapon as any of the following: 1) a toxic chemical or its precursors; 2) a munition specifically designed to deliver a toxic chemical; or 3) any equipment specifically designed for use with toxic chemicals or munitions. Toxic chemical agents are gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical substances that use their toxic properties to cause death or severe harm to humans, animals, and/or plants. Chemical weapons include blister, nerve, choking, and blood agents, as well as non-lethal incapacitating agents and riot-control agents. Historically, chemical weapons have been the most widely used and widely proliferated weapon of mass destruction.
Nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon: A device that releases nuclear energy in an explosive manner as the result of nuclear chain reactions involving fission, or fission and fusion, of atomic nuclei. Such weapons are also sometimes referred to as atomic bombs (a fission-based weapon); or boosted fission weapons (a fission-based weapon deriving a slightly higher yield from a small fusion reaction); or hydrogen bombs/thermonuclear weapons (a weapon deriving a significant portion of its energy from fusion reactions).
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. “Nuclear Sites, Facilities – Parchin,” Institute for Science and International Security, www.isisnucleariran.org.
  2. “Nuclear Sites, Facilities – Parchin,” Institute for Science and International Security, www.isisnucleariran.org.
  3. Yonah Alexander and Milton M. Hoenig, The New Iranian Leadership (London: Praeger Security International, 2008), p. 157.
  4. Judith S. Yaphe and Charles D. Lutes, “Reassessing the Consequences of a Nuclear-Armed Iran,” Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Washington, DC, 2005, p. 65.
  5. “Photos of Suspected Secret Iranian Nuclear Site Released,” AFP, 16 September 2004.
  6. “Iran: Explosions Spark Fire in Parchin,” Stratfor, 15 November 2007, www.stratfor.com.
  7. “Massive Explosion in Parchin Missile Site of the Guard Corps,” National Council of Resistance of Iran, 14 November 2007, www.ncr-iran.org; and “Explosion at Iran’s Parchin Military Base Leaves Several Injured,” BBC Monitoring Middle East, 13 November 2007.


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