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Iran Speeding Up Long-Range Missile Drive: U.N. Experts

June 15, 2011


A recent U.N. expert review asserts that Iran has increased the rate of activities aimed at producing long-range missiles, Haaretz reported last week (see GSN, June 13).

Iran has tamped down public references to its ballistic missile advancements, possibly in part due to international uncertainty over its capacities in the area as well as over penalties other governments have adopted in a bid to curb Tehran’s disputed nuclear and missile activities, the Israeli newspaper said (see GSN, May 14).

Iran has conducted trial flights of its Shahab 3 and Sajjil ballistic missiles in three instances in less than half a year, and some of the weapons can travel farther than 620 miles, the report says. The Shahab 3 missile has proven in tests its ability to fly as far as 560 miles, and the Sajjil 1 missile has a range of nearly 1,250 miles, according to the document, which also describes routine exchanges of ballistic missile components between the Middle Eastern nation and North Korea (see GSN, May 16; Amos Harel, Haaretz, June 10).

The liquid-fueled Shahab 3 missile has one stage and a maximum designed range just under 750 miles, United Press International reported on Tuesday. The weapon’s two planned successors, the Shahab 4 and Shahab 5, are intended to be ICBMs with ranges as high as 3,125 miles.

The experimental Sajjil 2 missile was tested on two occasions in 2009, according to UPI. The dual-stage, solid-fuel weapon is purportedly intended to travel farther than 930 miles (United Press International, June 14).

Tehran also carried out a trial of its Fateh 110 ballistic missile with a top flight distance of roughly 125 miles, Haaretz reported.

The U.N. report’s assertions appear credible, said Uzi Rubin, Israel’s former top missile defense official. Iran’s rate of missile trials is “amazing in scope,” he added. Jerusalem has worked for years to draw attention to Iran’s long-range missile development efforts, which have prompted the United States and NATO to pursue defensive initiatives (see related GSN story, today).

China has apparently delayed publication of the assessment, which bases its conclusions on data furnished by U.N. Security Council member countries and auditors of purported illicit Iranian activities in a number of nations (see GSN, May 18; Harel, Haaretz).

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