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The Latest up-date in Iranian Ballistic Missile & Space Booster Developments

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical Analyst, Globalsecurity.org

09-10-18 / 05-27-10

Taep'o-dong-2 Larger Space Booster

This is in addition to the Taep'o-dong-2 larger space booster with a satellite payload capacity on the order of 100-170-250-550 kilograms which is both clearly a space booster and potential limited range ICBM warhead carrier rocket. U. S intelligence has suggested that North Korea could export ICBM technology and or hardware to Iran in 2009 if they do not in fact already have it in hand from the twenty produced from 1996-2006 for ground static test firing [2], dynamic test [2+], systems testing [1] and flight testing [2] in addition to preliminary fielding and facilities systems [2]. This has confirmed the indication that North Korea has ICBM capability in hand but not fully demonstrated. This is according to Admiral Timothy Keating, Chief of U. S Pacific Command as reported in the Middle East Newsline. (30) Iran is already known to have its propulsion systems as well as the earthen work completed in 2003-2004 for its launch pad. The recent successful flight test of the first two stages of the TD-2 on April 5, 2009 certainly enhances its sales ability to foreign customers.


30. N. Korea Could Export ICBM Capability To Iran, Middle East Newsline, Washington, Dec. 24, 2008 p.1 http://www.menewsline.com

Iran Opened Several New Missile Production Plants

© C. P. Vick 2010 All Rights Reserved

May 21, 2010

Iran opened two new missile production plants according to Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi on the 31 st. Anniversary 1979 Islamic Revolution “Ten Days of Dawn” period.

Iran with Chinese help opened two new missile production plants in early March 2010 for the Iranian Nasr-1/Victory-1 anti ship missile known as the C-704 of China. The additional missile systems were the Qaem (Rise) surface to surface missile and for targeting low to medium altitude helicopters. The second being the Toofan-5 (Storm) with its two warheads for anti tank armored vehicles targeting.

Iran's First Acknowledged Satellite Ground Tracking Station

This Iranian satellite ground tracking station is believed to be an expansion of the existing Tabas site with its ERTS capability. (31)

Mass Production of the Shahab-3B

During 2008 Iran committed the Shahab-3B to deployment production at a rate of about 75 per year. This is the 2,000 kilometer range variant of the Shahab-3B that is replacing the older Shahab-3A presently deployed in Iran. (32)

Iranian Nasr-2 Flight Tested Dec. 6 th.

Iran flight tested the new Nasr-2 (Victory) improved derivation of the Nasr-1 anti-ship missile during the Gulf of Oman naval exercise code named Unity-87. It is essentially a Iran derivation of the Chinese C-802 and French Exocet anti ship design with improvements. It was said to have successfully hit its target 30 kilometers from the warship based launch platform.

Safir Program Set Back Indirectly Acknowledged by Iran

After the November 26, 2008 successful 40 minute sounding rocket vertical probe ballistic flight into space by the Kavoshgar-2 (Explorer-2) Iran acknowledged that the Safir program had suffered a set back by saying it required two more flight test with out admitting it has failed so far. That set back is believed to have been determined back in October after reviewing the previous flight tests results. Kavoshgar-2 was launched by a two stage solid propellant tactical missile with a third scientific recoverable apparatus section attached to a recovery parachute. The launch displayed the characteristic white gray solid propellant exhaust contrail versus the black hydrocarbon contrail seen with Shahab-2B launches. The scientific section utilized a space laboratory and data monitoring and processing unit as a part of its instrumentation. (17)

The tactical missiles used a TEL normally set to 45 degrees launch angle rolled up on to a bull dozed hill to make it nearly vertical for launching. Kavoshgar-2 was not launched on the Shahab-3B as previously indicating. It was given a standard name “Kavoshgar” for a series of vertical probe sounding rocket experiments that Iran is known to have utilized for some time now for atmospheric and space ballistic environmental testing in support of its ballistics and space programs. (28) The Kavoshgar-3 & 4 launches expected in the near future are expected to carry live animal test subjects to begin developing the knowledge base for future human space programs by Iran. (29)

Iran indicated that the Safir (Messenger or Ambassador or Emissary or Envoy) satellite launch vehicle must apparently undergo two additional successful flight tests in a row in order to finally be cleared to launch Iran's first satellite “Omid” (Hope) on its fifth or sixth launch as presently planned. Iran is therefore not expected to achieve it planned satellite launch by the end of the present three year plan at the end of March 2009. Its next three year plan starts on April 1, 2009 “April Fools” day the planning of which is expected to be impacted by this set back on at least one or two other separate larger more advanced space booster programs being developed. Safir is a test bed for the required technology for the follow-on launch vehicles. How much of an impact this will have on the longer term satellite launch vehicle development and Safir programs remains to be seen.

Potential North Korean Connection

What is even more critical to understand is that the upper stages of the Ghadr-110/110A, Samen/Sejjil/Ashura could in fact become the second, third and fourth stages of the Taep'o-dong-2C/3 in place of the known No-dong-B second stage and solid motor third stage if the design revision that was suggested recently by South Korean Intelligence is correct. Iran is known to have participated in the Taep'o-dong-2C/3 development. North Korea is expected to flight test one or two Teap'o-dong-2 class missile either as a satellite launcher attempt or a ballistic missile flight or both in the spring or summer of 2009. Iran is further expected to attempt a satellite launch any time between November 2008 and the end of March 2009 as the State plan requires to be accomplished.

Questions on Solid Motor Technology from Iran to North Korea

Iranian transfer of it advanced solid propellant technology to North Korea is a serious concern along with what it has already received from Russia . It has been suggested that North Korea has substituted the No-dong-B second stage of Taep’o-dong-2B , Taep’o-dong-2C/3 with a solid motor second and third stage with what could be a variant of the Iranian Ashura/Ghadr-110 altitude design first and second stage but there is no substantial evidence that such technology is being developed or utilized by North Korea from Iran or China. Suggestions of a substitution of a solid propellant second and third stage with this launch vehicle development program does not stand up when considering the understood state of North Korea's solid propellant ballistic missile program even if they are benefiting from Iran's extensive efforts in that area of ballistic missile technology development. I believe that the identification of a new design of the Taep’o-dong-2, 2B as the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 has been a subtle surprise that is only now becoming clear to the South Korean intelligence community and that therefore this assessment is premature and would equally be considered technologically questionable based on experience with such design approaches. Placing a large solid motor on top of a large liquid propellant first stage from experience tends to have real issues making it impractical.

Iran is also in the advanced stage of developing a series of solid propellant ballistic missile, and potential space boosters as compared to known equivalent systems of Pakistan, U.S and Russia.

Iran Coming Technological Surprise

Iran is also in the advanced stage of developing a series of solid propellant ballistic missiles, and potential space boosters that are however behind the liquid propellant developments.

Iran’s recent two flight failures of the interim Safir space booster (See also Iranian missile test ranges), a compacted Taep’o-dong-1 booster will eventually achieve its satellite launch goal in the near future, certainly by March of 2009. This is the Iranian States’ official goal, but it is has been expected as early as October November 2008. In any case the Safir launch vehicle is only expected to launch a few satellites as it merely represents an interim test pathfinder launch vehicle for the larger higher performance vehicles to follow. This is expected to resemble the North Korean Taep’o-dong-2C/3 class satellite launch vehicle ballistic missile design. This would follow the North Korean practice as was carried out with the Taep’o-dong-1 booster, which soon after only one satellite launch attempt was essentially shelved with only limited numbers produced for foreign consumption and it was never deployed strategically.


Comparative composite of Iran’s latest developments

Iran's latest solid propellant developments

The Inter-related North Korean, Iran ballistic Missile Space Booster Developments

Iran is basically equal or in many cases ahead of North Korea in these booster developments that serve both the ballistic missile program as well as the space booster development for both nations cooperative efforts. The successful flight to orbit of the Safir satellite launch vehicle demonstrated the critical staging guidance control technology required for ballistic missiles and future planned heavier space boosters. Like Taep’o-dong-1, Safir no matter what its rendition is not expected to be deployed as a strategic system because it simple does not have the required performance payload capacity for strategic application. It also portends the introduction of larger more capable space and strategic ballistic missile developments.

The Iranian successful development of the Ghadr-101 single stage missile with the Ghadr-110/Samen, 110A /Sejjil/Ashura solid propellant two and three stage missiles also indicated a second trend in Iranian developments that will lead to larger more capacity space boosters and potential ballistic missiles. Iran is known to be combining these liquid propellant and solid motor technologies to the development a more capable Safir block-II class space booster expected in 2010 with over twice the capability of the present Safir space booster. It will utilizing two Ghadr-101/Samen strap-on boosters with a Safir second stage and potential third stage with in its bulbous payload shroud giving it a 200-250 kilogram payload capacity as an interim step to both an advanced solid propellant space booster similar to Pakistan’s space booster efforts. This is addition to the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 larger space booster with a payload capacity on the order of 250-550 kilograms which are both clearly a potential ICBM warhead carrier rockets.

U. S intelligence has suggested that North Korea could export ICBM technology and or hardware to Iran in 2009 if they do not in fact already have it in hand. This has confirmed the indication that North Korea has ICBM capability in hand but not fully demonstrated. This is according to Admiral Timothy Keating, Chief of U. S Pacific Command as reported in the Middle East Newsline. It is assumed that the ICBM or satellite launch capability may once again be tested in 2009. (30) North Korea with Iran’s cooperation is expected to participate in the expected test flight of the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 out of the new Pongdong-ni, or Dongchong-ni or Tongch’ang-dong, North Korea’s new ballistic missile and space booster range launch site and or from the Musudan-Ri older ballistic missile space booster site being updated. This is expected to take place between late March and early April through August 2009 that in all probability will be its second satellite launch attempt. No doubt Iran will add this large space booster capability to its inventory with its many international technological strategic implications.


1. Pamela Hess, North Korea has second long-range missile site, Associated Press, Sept. 10, 2008 pp. 1-3.

2. North Korea has second long-range missile launch site: analyst, AFP Washington, Sept. 19, 2008 p.1.

3. Jane's Defense Weekly Uncovers North Korea's New Missile Facility,,Media Release, Sept. 11, 2008, p. 1-3.

4. N. Korea Building New Missile Base, http://english.chosun.con, Chosun ilbo (english edition) Sept. 12, 2008, p. 1.

5. New North Korean Missile Site Revealed, http://english.chosun.com (english edition), Sept. 12, 2008, p. 1-2.

6. N. Korea Tests Missile Ignition, http://english.chosun.com, Chosun ilbo English edition, Sept 16, 2008, p.1.

7. North Korea tests missile engine, http://www. presstv.ir (PRESSTV of Iran) Sept 16, 2008, p. 1.

8. N. Korea Developing Long Range Missile Thrusters At New Launch Site: Source," South Korean Yonhap news agency report, Sept. 16, 2008, p. 1-2.

9. Kim Kwi-Ku"n:"What Is the Missile Base in North Korea's Tongch"ang-ri for?-"likelihood of Launch Artificial Satellite - Relation to Nuclear Weapons Delivery Means"", South Korean Yonhap news agency report, Sept. 14, 2008, p. 1-2.

10. Google Earth imagery

11. N Korea conducts engine test at new missile site: report AFP, http://www.spacewars.com , Seoul, September 16-17, 2008, p. 1-2.

12. Pamela Hess, US: North Korea conducts missile engine test, Associated Press, September 16, 2008, p. 1-2.

13. Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, North Korea Said to Have Tested Missile Engine, http://www. nytimes.com , Sept. 16, 2006, Sept 17, 2008, p. 1-2.

14. Blaine Harden, North Korea Tests Engine of Long-Range Missile, Report Says, The Washington Post Foreign Service, Sept. 17, 2008 p. A-12.

15. Kurt Achin, Seoul, South Korea, New North Korean Missile Site Revealed, Voice of America, Sept 11, 2008 pp. 1-2.

16. Iranian military parade photographs of the FARS News Agency of September 21, 2008.

17. N Korea may already have nuclear warheads: ex-CIA official, Staff Writer, Tokyo , Japan , AFP, http://www.spacewar,com, September 26, 2008 , pp. 1-2.

18. N. Korea unlikely to possess nuclear weapons: military chief, Yonhap news agency, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2008/10/08/0401000000AEN20081008008800315.HTML October 8 , 2008, pp. 1.

19. Intelligence: N. Korea to Test New Missile, The Dong-A Ilbo, http://english.donga.com , October 2, 2008 pp. 1 -2.

24. http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20070130-122437-6559r.htm Gertz, Bill, How the “axis” seeks the killer missile, The Washington Times, January 30, 2007 , p. ?

25. http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20070130-122437-6559r.htmGertz, Bill, How the “axis” seeks the killer missile, The Washington Times, January 30, 2007

26. N Korean base could handle longer-range missiles: S Korea minister, Spacewars.com, Seoul AFP, Nov 4, 2008, pp. 1-2l.

27. A Korea: N Koreas building base for bigger missiles, Seoul, South Korea, AP, Nov. 5, 2008, p.1.

28. Iran "fires second space rocket", http://news.bbc.co.uk , BBC, 15:50 GMT November 26, 2008, pp. 1-2.

29. Iran To Send Animals Into Space, Tehran, Iran RIA Novosti, http://www.space-treael.com/reports/Iran_To_Send_Animals_Into_Space_999.html, Dec 03, 2008, p.1.

30. N. Korea Could Export ICBM Capability To Iran, Middle East Newsline, Washington, Dec. 24, 2008 p.1 http://www.menewsline.com

31. Iran Builds First Satellite Ground Station, Middle East Newsline, Nicosia, January 14, 2009, p.1

32. Iran Begins Extended Shihab-3 Missile Output, Middle East Newsline, Nicosia, December 10, 2009, p.1.

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