SPND money problems: who missed the management?

Redline has always seen itself as an authority. However, we have never been an authority on finance.

Likewise, as we’ll see, MODAFL (وزارت دفاع و پشتیبانی نیروهای مسلح) finances are also likely to be feeling decidedly tighter at the moment. So, what might this mean for the SPND (سازمان پژوهشی و نوآوری دفاعی) and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (محسن فخری زاده)?

The Iranian economy is not doing well.. If we take Iran at face value, then the only nuclear work they are doing concerns civil power.. By this measure, most of the cash should go to the Iranian Energy Ministry. This must leave SPND and its band of merry scientists in a sticky situation.

Being frank though, Redline isn’t sure we would want to work in an organisation where the ALL of the management are scientists, especially if nerves are already fraying and money is tight. Can SPND organise the pay of its departmental supervisors? Or is the money so tight that the phone line is being cut off and the floors not being swept at night? No money probably also means no new recruitment. No new recruitment means scientist- or engineer-shaped holes in your research labs. More gaps mean more hours.

You can imagine the tensions at the SPND Sports Day. Get in the way of your average physicist and things are likely to get nasty. You’d better hope you don’t get caught on the end of a mean overhead smash.

So what is life in SPND like for those not lucky enough to be writing dialogue for the tv coverage of Iran's moon landing mission? SPND staff would be lucky to see nine million Rials a month (which is about USD$337) with the amount presumably decreasing as time goes on. That's not much for what you would assume to be a priority national project. Money will go where it is directed, and given Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (محسن فخری زاده) is in charge it seems doubtful that it will be to the average man in Mojdeh Street, who expects his bonus at Nowruz.

Redline imagines this issue lowers morale. Perhaps – like many other Iranians – SPND employees could consider taking a second job and doing a bit of business on the side.

Oh wait, no they can't.

On the upside they have a spectacular security clearance and as a sweetener might just get a nuclear facility named after them if they ever have a terminal workplace accident.

So the rank-and-file of SPND will just have to put their faith in Mr Fakhrizadeh and hope that he'll pull off the volleyball equivalent of a Hail Mary pass. Perhaps everyone is wondering if the Defence Industries Research and Training Institute/DITRI (مؤسسه آموزشي و تحقيقاتي صنايع دفاعي), nominally the main funder for SPND, will provide extra cash. Maybe Fakhrizadeh is talking to Hossein Jabal-Amelian (سردار جبل عاملیان) or Ebrahim Mahmudzadeh (ابراهیم محمودزاده), MODAFL's Deputy for Logistics and Supplies, as we speak.

To us, the big problem with this is that Fakhrizadeh has never struck Redline as being the sharpest. We don't pretend to understand much about his financial acumen, but not many clandestine nuclear scientists appear in the Wall Street Journal. Nor do many have a Wikipedia page.

With this level of aptitude I can't imagine MODAFL Minister Dehghan (حسین دهقان) or Jabal Amelian would be willing to give SPND more money. More likely, they will ask SPND to make cuts.

Apparently, SPND is now looking around to make savings. Presumably it's cancelled some expensive contracts with suppliers. Giving that the nuclear negotiations don't seem to foresee a bright future for nuclear weapons production in Iran, SPND is probably looking to cut back on "unnecessary departments." I'd start by paying salaries late. Or denying equipment. Or getting departments to compete with each other for funds.

But how do you cut SPND without it looking like another AMAD-style halt order?. It might be that you could merge SPND with academic institutions. (Yesterday - secret nuclear scientist. Today - sandal-wearing academic!) Malek Ashtar University of Technology (دانشگاه صنعتی مالک اشتر) would be a good bet. Or Amir Kabir University (دانشگاه صنعتی امیرکبیر). Many in SPND are already members of one institution or the other. Redline wonders if a better idea would be to dissolve SPND entirely into DITRI. This may have not crossed the minds of the Iranian state.

Perhaps it has and they just havent told the workforce...

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