As early as 1984, the Islamic Republic was manufacturing agents to be used in chemical weapons; several U.S. intelligence assessments have concluded that it continues to develop and maintain such weapons. And while Tehran may not yet have fully operational biological weapons, there is no doubt that it can produce them on short notice. Alan Goldsmith cautions Washington against ignoring the dangers these programs pose:
The Trump administration has rightly called out Iran for its continuing chemical-weapons activities. . . . The U.S. should also engage in vigorous diplomacy to encourage foreign governments to pay more attention to Iran’s chemical-warfare program. Further, if Washington has intelligence on Iranian chemical-weapons sites, it should consider seeking a “challenge inspection” of [these] sites by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons . . . and ask other countries to join in this request.
[In addition], Washington should better integrate [its assessment of the dangers of] Iran’s chemical and biological weapons into America’s [overall] policy on Iran. For example, the Trump administration has issued twelve demands on the Iranian regime as prerequisites for the end of U.S. sanctions and restoration of normal diplomatic relations. . . . The U.S. should [add] a thirteenth demand: a full accounting and dismantlement of Tehran’s chemical- and biological-weapons programs.
As the Syrian regime has shown in recent years, chemical weapons [can indeed cause] the mass destruction of human lives. The same holds true for biological weapons. It is past time for the U.S. and other responsible international actors to act with seriousness to ensure that Iran, one of the world’s worst rogue regimes, cannot use or threaten the use of such weapons to advance its malign agenda.