A prominent philanthropist and industrialist based in Salt Lake City and an engineer and entrepreneur by profession, Khosrow B. Semnani completed his early education in Iran, and earned dual Bachelor of Science Degrees in Chemistry and Physics from Salt Lake City’s Westminster College (1972), and a Masters of Engineering Administration Degree from the University of Utah (1977).
He is the author of The Ayatollah’s Gamble: The Human Cost of Military Strikes Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities which was published jointly by the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, and Omid for Iran, a nonprofit organization based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The paper offers a detailed, scientific discussion of the human and environmental consequences of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The study is unique in that it is the first serious attempt at exploring the consequences of a military strike on Iran, and how such an attack will result in massive civilian casualties. Scores of innocent people would be exposed to highly toxic chemical plumes and, in the case of operational reactors, radioactive fallout equal to the worst nuclear disasters in history.
As a physicist, Mr. Semnani’s knowledge and understanding of the effects of chemical and radioactive materials on human health and the environment is based on long years of experience gained as founder and operator of several major nuclear waste facilities. After several years of working in the mining and manufacturing industries, Mr. Semnani recognized the urgency for proper repository and disposal of hazardous waste materials. He designed and developed the Grassy Mountain facility, the first hazardous waste disposal facility in the State of Utah in 1980. The facility received, processed and safely stored millions of cubic feet of highly toxic chemicals. This unique facility was later acquired by the Clean Harbors Corporation. In 1988, he licensed and developed Envirocare of Utah, the first commercial low level nuclear waste disposal facility in the United States. The facility became the largest corporation of its kind in the United States. For 17 years, the firm received, processed and safely disposed of radioactive and toxic chemicals for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy, Department of Defense, nuclear power plants and government research facilities. In 2005, Southern Utah University (SUU) awarded Mr. Semnani an honorary doctoral degree in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of nuclear waste management.
Throughout his career, Mr. Semnani has been a passionate supporter of humanitarian causes around the world. In 1993, he founded the Semnani Family Foundation. The foundation has been a leader in supporting a variety of humanitarian causes and initiatives. It has provided grants to more than 550 charities, and more than 15 different religious and interfaith organizations. The foundation has made contributions to several international agencies, such as the American Red Cross, World Health Organization (WHO) U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the World Food Program (WFP), Save the Children Federation, Wheelchair Foundation, International Relief and Development, and the LDS Humanitarian Services. The foundation generously donated to the Measles Initiative, a long term commitment to control fatalities from Measles by vaccinating 200 million children in more than 36 African nations. It has also provided grant support for projects that address social issues such as homelessness, literacy, hunger, violence and rape. The Semnani Family Foundation has received many accolades including the Circle of Humanitarians award from the Red Cross, in appreciation for generous annual giving and support of Red Cross relief efforts throughout the world.
In 2006, the Semnani Family Foundation established and became the major source of funding for the Maliheh Free Clinic. The clinic serves residents of the Greater Salt Lake City area at no cost to the patients and without governmental funding. Today, as a result of the many volunteer contributions, private donors and grants from the Semnani Family Foundation, over 100 patients per day, 105,000 patient visits since the clinic first opened its doors, have been profoundly affected by having access to fundamental medical care that otherwise would not be available to them.
Mr. Semnani is also passionate about promoting a better future for the Iranian people, supporting educational initiatives that enhance understanding of Iranian history, culture, language and civilization. He has provided funding for a number of conferences at universities in the United States including Chicago and University of California at Santa Barbara. Mr. Semnani served for eight years as Vice Chairman and for three years as Chairman of The Board of Trustees for Encyclopedia Iranica. Located at Columbia University, the Encyclopedia Iranica is a comprehensive research tool dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. He is currently a member of the National Advisory Board of the Middle East Center at University of Utah.
In 2009, Mr. Semnani founded the organization Omid for Iran, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to supporting the cause of democracy and serving as a collaborative platform for promoting individual, freedom and empowering civil society. The organization has four areas of focus: Peace & Security, Freedom & Democracy, Prosperity & Progress, and Friendship & Humanity. The central mission is to help build a foundation for good governance, personal security, economic opportunity, social justice and political freedom for all Iranians. Similar to the humanitarian mission of the Semnani Family Foundation, Omid for Iran is committed to supporting initiatives and organizations that build bonds of friendship and trust across cultures and religions.