Strategic Weapons: Iran Tests Europe Busting Missile

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March 6, 2006: Iran has apparently successfully test fired a new missile, the Shahab 4, which has a range of 4,000 kilometers. The missile was destroyed in flight, but apparently proved that it worked. With that range, the Shahab 4 can reach targets in Western Europe.

The Shahab 4 is apparently based on the shorter (2,200 kilometers) range Shahab 3. Both seem to use technology from an old Soviet era missile, the SS-5. This is 1950s stuff, using a liquid fuel rocket which gave the missile a range of 4,000 kilometers. The SS-5 served as a truck-mobile, and silo based system until the mid-1980s. The Russians deny that they sold the technology to Iran, but any of the many Russian missile engineers and managers with access to the stuff could have made the sale. The information needed would fit into a briefcase, or on a CD. The Iranians have the engineers, and manufacturing capability, to produce the SS-5 components. Iran says they are developing the Shahab 4 as a satellite launcher. Iran has spent about a billion dollars on the project. The first test launch of the Shahab 4 was three years ago. It may be another year or two before the Shahab 4 is reliable enough for regular service (as an IRBM or satellite launcher.)

 


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