Iran working on building up ballistic missile arsenal
[ Page 34 ]
Iran sees WMD and ballistic missiles as means to fill the void in military and deterrent capabilities. Tehran suffered under barrages of Iraqi ballistic missiles during the Iran-Iraq War and wants to have the option of using ballistic missiles that are faster and more reliable than Iran's air force for penetrating enemy airspaces to deliver both conventional and WMD warheads. In July 2003 Iran successfully tested the Shahab-3 missile, which achieved a range of about 1,000 km. Iran is suspected of having an unspecified number of operational Shahab missiles, which are based on North Korea's No Dong-1 missile that is reportedly capable of carrying an 800 kg warhead. Iran also is working on a 2,000-km Shahab-4 based on Russian technology, as well as a 5,000-km Shahab-5 missile. These missiles probably are too inaccurate to be of much military utility if armed with conventional warheads, but they would be sufficiently accurate to deliver WMD, particularly nuclear warheads. According to a foreign intelligence official and a former Iranian intelligence officer, the North Koreans are working on the Shahab-4 and providing assistance on designs for a nuclear warhead.