Studies of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)’s role in the Iranian economy often focus on its illicit activity, like smuggling, or its involvement in construction and the media. These studies overlook the IRGC’s involvement in a sector crucial for meeting the IRGC’s growing need to develop technologically: science and technology (S&T) parks. The IRGC’s foray into S&T parks further blurs the lines between civilian and military – the IRGC invests in and collaborates with several prominent Iranian civilian S&T parks as well as develops civilian products at its own S&T parks
The IRGC has struck agreements with several prominent civilian S&T parks in the last year. In July 2022, the IRGC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Semnan University of Technology’s S&T Park to invest in the park’s technology companies. In November 2022, the IRGC’s Scientific Research and Technology Organization in Markazi Province agreed to increase its “cooperation” with Arak Science and Technology Park (ASTP), according to media reports. These S&T parks’ proximity to key strategic installations – the Semnan Space Center and the Arak Nuclear Complex, respectively – highlights opportunities for civil-military collaboration afforded by the IRGC’s new relationships with these parks (See Figure 1 below). One IRGC commander’s praise for an S&T park MoU’s potential for “creating jobs” underscores the IRGC’s mission in other areas beyond defense.
The IRGC operates its own S&T parks (in orange) and collaborates with S&T parks (in green) in proximity to key strategic installations (in blue)