The Operational Shahab-4/No-dong-B Flight Tested in Iran for Iran & North Korea Confirmed
By Charles P. Vick
Senior Fellow, Globalsecurity.org
© Charles P. Vick All Rights Reserved 2006-7
The opinions and evaluations stated here in are only the authors and cannot be construed to reflect those of any Government agency, company, institute or association. It is based on public information, circumstantial evidence, informed speculation, declassified U.S. intelligence community documents, official Iranian and North Korean government documents and histories, oral histories, interviews and reverse engineering analysis. As with all data regarding the Iranian and North Korean strategic space and ballistic missile programs, this analysis is subject to revision--and represents a work in progress.
The Islamic republic has issued a range of diverse statements regarding its space program. The Iranian defense minister announced in February 1999 that Iran was in the process of constructing the non-military Shahab-4 missile for the purpose of launching a satellite into space
However three separate programs have replaced the original Shahab-4/Taep’o-dong-1A program launch vehicle with the successful flights of the Shahab-3B on August 11, 2004 and the No-dong-B/Mirim on January 17, 2006 and now the new Ghadr-101 program. Iran is separately trying to develop a small satellite launch vehicle perhaps similar to the Shahab-3D/IRIS or an up-rated Taep'o-dong-1A or some variation utilizing the No-dong-B as a first stage. On February 25, 2007 Iran flew a single stage Shahab-3A/B class booster rocket as a sounding rocket.
It became apparent in 1994 that North Korea had not only received the No-dong-A technology transfer from the Makeyev OKB, of the former Soviet Union but had also received the Zyb SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 the design of which evolved to the No-dong-B/Shahab-4. This technology was received from the former Soviet Union at the same time 1987-88 that the No-dong-A technology was received in North Korea . The following specific report mentions the ZYB the SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 derivation developed into what we know as the No-dong-B/Mirim/Shahab-4:
["KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA Investigation"article by Sergey Pluzhnikov, Sergey Sokolov, and Mikhail Morozov "prepared from materials from more than 100 open Western and Russian publications": "Will Kirn Il-song Explode Our Atom Bomb?"]
[Excerpts] [passage omitted]…. An unprecedented scandal, connected with the improvement of missiles and of the DPRK nuclear program as a whole, erupted in October 1992. Security Ministry staffers detained 36 Russian scientists at Sheremetyevo-2 Airport. They had been intending to fly to Pyongyang along with their families. [there were a total of 64 persons stopped according to reports at the time C.P.Vick]
It later came to light that prominent representatives of the Russian military-industrial complex had wanted to get jobs in the DPRK and had already drawn up contracts: Professor Arkadiy Bakhmutov, specialist in rocket engine building and winner of the Komsomol [All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League] Prize; Doctor of Sciences Valeriy Strakhov, department head at the Scientific Research Institute of Special Machine Building in Bochkovo; Yuriy Bessarabov, one of the creators of the Zyb [ SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 that evolved to the No-dong-B/Shahab-4 C.P.Vick] rocket and a Komsomol Prize winner; and other specialists in the sphere of rocket building. The organizer of this work landing force on the Russian side was Anatoliy Rubtsov, a specialist in the sphere of solid state physics well known in the circles of scientists working for the military-industrial complex. The organizer on the DPRK side was Major General Nam Chae-uk, who was declared persona non grata by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Security.
Anatoliy Rubtsov told journalists that a plan had existed to send 200 Russian scientists to the DPRK to create the scientific base of North Korean rocket building. "I did not initiate it," Rubtsov maintained. "In August 1992 Stepanov, chief of the Russian Federation Industry Ministry Machine Building administration, visited North Korea and signed a general agreement in this regard. It was proposed that I form a group. But South Korea promised Russia aid of $1 billion, and the Russian Government abruptly changed the state policy and agreed to restrictions in relations with the DPRK." At the same time Rubtsov said that the North Koreans had "approached" him back in April 1991, when he was lecturing in Beijing : "I was made a suitable offer of permanent work, and I accepted it. I was elected a member of the North Korean Academy of Sciences and appointed director of a scientific research institute. My younger sister passed dollars to someone at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in exchange obtained from the First Consular Section clean passports for 200 people to travel abroad. The money had been passed to me by a representative of the North Korean Embassy in Moscow , and my receipt was sent to Pyongyang ."
Almost all the scientists detained at Sheremetyevo-2 told journalists the same thing: "It is all the same to us for which political purposes our knowledge might be used; we only wanted to carry on doing our favorite thing."
According to data in some respectable publications, more than 20 (26 total C. P. Vick) /Russian scientists nonetheless managed to get work in the DPRK (mainly through China ). They live there under aliases, make $3,000-4,000 a month, and want for nothing . According to press allegations, however, some of our scientists no longer need to risk and negotiate border checkpoints in order to work on the North Korean nuclear program. They sit at home and send their calculations to Pyongyang by computer mail, which it is not yet possible to monitor……. (24)
The final answer to analysis is a political answer regardless of the analysis resulting conclusions. Take caution, that this analysis is only as good as the sources and methods utilized to develop its conclusions based on open sources and the analysis of what trends that information reveals.
The North Korean, missile recently reported flight tested in Iran, is the land mobile 12 meter long No-dong-B which is based on the s oviet era liquid propellant SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM). http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/dprk/nd-b.htm It was said to have been launched on January 17, 2006 in Iran for the benefit of North Korea and Iran . Added to the implications of that alone is that as long expected and predicted by this analyst Iran has apparently now become the nation to do some of the flight testing of the on going North Korean ballistic missile and space booster development programs. This is while North Korea continues to honor its supposed ballistic missile space booster flight testing moratorium. Whether this flight test conducted in Iran should be consider an out right violation of the moratorium must be decided by the U.S. government. Thus the trends seem to indicate there is every reason to believe that Iran has the benefit of the design work and testing done in the DPRK ( North Korea) and Pakistan. Further the trends seem to continue to prove the underestimation of the degree of intimacy of the collaboration among these three countries strategic programs.
The No-dong-B reportedly flew its test dummy warhead some 3,000 kilometers but its performance data revealed that it had a range capability of 4,000 kilometers. This tends to say to this analyst that the intelligence is rapidly being out paced by the actual progress in these integrated space and ballistic missile nuclear warhead programs. In an attempted to deliberately masquerade the flight test as a failure Iran blow it up once the test objective was achieved. This was after the intentional early engine shutdown and warhead separation. Interestingly apparently the flight test also exhibited Shahab-3Binstrumentation guidance telemetry causing it to initially be analyzed as a failed Shahab-3B flight test. This also indicates that the instrumentation and guidance for the No-dong-B is similar to the Shahab-3B equipment adaptation. When the all source information from the flight test was reviewed it proved that it was far from being that. It also presumable provided Iran as of late 2005 with the baseline system that is the basis of the first stage and especially the second stage of the yet to be flight tested redesigned Taep’o-ding-2C/3 space booster ICBM. This technology had long been sought after for purchase and financed development by Iran .
It has been known since 1994 from FBIS/JPRS reports from Russia that the North Korean’s received the Soviet Era SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 missile technology between 1988 and 1991 with its higher performance closed cycle liquid propulsion engine. This in 2003 manifested itself as a deployed land based and or a future potential surface ship or submarine deployed threat, due to its greater propellant load and increased range longer length SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 the No dong-B.
A critical point noted by John Pike is that “this new missile has the advantage that it fits inside a standard 40 foot to 50 foot shipping container, which would be really hard to detect on container ship on the open ocean.” This author notes that is especially the case if the warhead is interchangeable unattached and the fact that the missile is designed and installed on a land mobile transporter cannister erector launcher for selected pre-surveyed launch sites. The whole mobile unit perhaps can be placed in the container and erect trough a top rear hatch that automatically opens up for launch with the other containers carrying the control room and prefueled at the factory. This game could conceivably be played by both Iran and North Korea . Pike further points out “that small cargo ships can call in the DPRK or Iran get a container loaded with a missile loaded on board, and roam the oceans waiting to fire it when the orders are received.” http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/dprk/nd-b.htm
It took North Korea between fifteen and eighteen years to master the SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 for the No-dong-B technology including its closed cycle propulsion system, UDMH production/storage technology, the critical welding technology and highly improved inertial guidance technology. The production of the advanced guidance technology, with the addition of GPS ground input capability and the use of proper materials technology to handle the propellants represents a very significant leap forward for this space booster/ballistic missile program. More recently it was learned that in August 2004 that China has helped Iran integrate a new GPS aided laser inertial guidance system coupled with GPS back up input into the Shahab-3B MRBM.
Prior to this around 2003, the North Koreans added a new UDMH propellant storage facility as a harbinger of things to come beside the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 launch pad with enough capacity for and entirely new booster, with its new second and third stages and probable redesigned first stage for the satellite launcher prototype. The SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 derivation uses UDMH as one of its liquid propellant components in addition to the already available Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid.
Both the No-dong-B and Shahab-3B appear to perhaps have the same or similar nuclear warhead prototype RV design. The current indicated mass of 650 kilograms is based on the Soviet era heritage SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 capability for both the No-dong-B and Shahab-3B. Believing the Re-entry Vehicle (RV) is a nuclear warhead prototype and proving it are two very different worlds. The design of the No-dong-B and Shahab-3B, RV certainly indicates the expected standardized nuclear warhead RV design. It also indicates that they have mastered the technology for reducing the size of the nuclear device with in the RV’s airframe but does not prove that it is a complete nuclear warhead. Proving the RV’s potential nuclear lethality is no easy task requiring radiation sensing as well as atmospheric sampling of the emitted gaseous vapors. The question is why develop such a RV but for a nuclear warhead as all previous nations have done that possess nuclear technology for weapons production?
The late 2003 earlier 2004 observation in North Korea of the No-dong-B and its Re-entry Vehicle (RV) with its “top of a baby bottle-neck” nose cone design description which is what allowed the U. S intelligence community to recognize the SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 origin of the new missile system. This along with the subsequent appearance of the Iranian Shahab-3B in Iran with its “baby bottle-neck” nose cone design reflected a commonality not immediately anticipated except with the knowledge of the intimacy of collaboration between these countries programs should have been predicted. The fact that both countries had their RV designs described separately in the same way profoundly suggests that their tested, operational nuclear weapon system is one and the same or very similar. When applying the known Shahab-3B, RV design to the No-dong-B it was found that it fitted with the known propulsion performance design constraints of the rocket stage. Circumstantially this result can not be ignored much less dismissed. Although for this analyst there remain issues of dry weight and propellant mass and burn time they will be resolved in due course
The No-ding-B’s were first sighted outside Pyongyang , North Korea on the Mirim, Air force base by US intelligence imaging system during September 2003. At the time it was predicted that some of the ten missiles imaged were expected to be put on display in an official holiday military parade in Pyongyang but this did not occur. Subsequently the missiles were found to be deployed in imagery early in 2004. The 3,000-4,000 kilometer range No-dong-B’s were deployed in the Sangnam-ri and Heocheon counties in the north Hamgyeong province. No further information on the missile systems appeared until it was flight test in January 17, 2006 out of Iran . Iran had received the No-dong-B’s from North Korea back in December 2005 through it Bandar Abbas port. (18, 19, 20) Immediately after the delivery in December 2005 it was followed with a flight test of the No-dong-B on January 17, 2006 out of Iran . (23)
Yet at the same time in 2003 and early 2004, the question could and should be asked, as did John Pike, did the North Korean displayed the No-dong-B’s for the US benefit? They were not paraded, which would have allowed for a much close examination of their realness. Nor have there been any identified flight test of the No-dong-B although they could be convinced that no flight test are required because of its design heritage and ground testing success. Also were the six of twenty six expected Iranian deployed Shahab-3B’s real or are they both a deception for our benefit? Are the No-dong-B’s real and are the Shahab-3B’s fakes and what is one to make of the Shahab-4 question?
If true that has now changed with this reported successful flight test of the No-dong-B perhaps identified internally in Iran as the new Shahab-4. It is now expected or assumed because of this successful flight test that it clears the way for both Iran and North Korea to begin production of this missile for further testing land deployment with Iran following behind North Korea. It is now reported that Iran has received a considerable shipment of these missiles recently. This also opens the door to North Korea to finally flight testing the long delayed redesigned Taep’o-dong-2C/3 space booster ICBM with its new more efficient propulsion system.
The Missile and RV programs of Iran have outpaced the warhead fuel program but not the warhead nuclear device design program which is in hand and has been for some time now. There is circumstantial evidence that Iran has not merely developed the already tested atomic nuclear device design but has also test the neutron producer trigger that has also cleared the way for the future thermo-nuclear device to be deployed. We also now know that Iran has plutonium in hand as circumstantially suspected. I would expect them to have the bomb fuel much soon than later from last years estimate of 10 years which has been revised to reflect this reality of less than five years in recent months.
Countries do not produce missiles to travel over thousands of kilometers to deliver mere “Fire Cracker” conventional high energy explosive warhead weapons unless they are intended to carry primarily nuclear, or chemical, biological weapons. The advances in the missile launch vehicle and re-entry vehicle program do mirror the advances in the nuclear weapons program of the larger total weapons program. Generally speaking no country makes the investment up to the threshold of actually having nuclear weapons without completing the process. The parallel missile and re-entry vehicle development programs also manifest this very harsh reality.
Finally on January 29, 2007 the US government acknowledged for the first time the existence of several new Iranian and North Korean missiles under development through a speech by the deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency of the Pentagon Army Brig. General Patrick O’Reilly before the George C Marshall Institute. In that speech he described the Iranian two stage Ghadr-110 solid propellant missile with a range of (1,324 miles) 1,995.16 or close to 2,000 kilometers. It has been known that the Iranians are working on the Ghadr-101 as well as the Ghadr-110 solid propellant missiles. The Ghadr-101 solid motor development was completed in 2005. He also described the two stage Taep’o-dong-2C/3 as having a range of (6,200 Miles) 9,975.8 kilometers and the three stage version with a range of (9,300 miles) 14,963.7 kilometers with a 250 kg warhead. He went further in his slides presentation to show that the No-dong-B has a demonstrated range of 2,000 miles or 3,218 kilometers (3,000 kilometers) when it is capable of flying (2,485 miles) or 4,000 kilometers. (24) The No-dong-B was described as “a qualitative improvement in the performance” from earlier North Korean missile systems. The Iranian Ghadr-101, 110, 110A will in fact also provides Iran with an ASAT capability besides its operational MRBM and IRBM capability.
|Missile Systems Nomenclature|
|Liquid Propellant Launch Vehicles|
|3. No-dong-A||=Shahab-3,3A &3B,||=Ghauri-II|
|4. No-dong-B||= Shahab-4?||n/a|
|8. Taep’o-dong-2B?||=? n/a|
|Solid Propellant Motor Launch Vehicles|
|4. n/a||=Space L. V./ICBM||Space L. V./ICBM|
1. Iran Could Achieve Nuke Capability in 2006, Washington date line [MENL], http://www.menewsline.com/stories/2006/january/01_22_1.html ( Army War College analysis)
2. Iran launched ”secret” rocket test, from correspondents in Berlin quoting Die Welt, The Weekend Australian, Feb. 4, 2006, News.com.au source AAP,
3. U.S. Revises Assessment on Iran’s Nukes, Washington, [MENL], (quoting Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph)
4. Iran Develops Missile With 4,000-km Range London [MENL] http://www.menewsline.com/stories/2006/march/03_02_1.html
(Defines the Shahab-4, 3000km performance with 4000km capability)
This was the final all source analysis results that can only be the No-dong-B.
5. Iran Secretly Tests New Surface-To-Surface Missile, Staff Writer, Berlin, Germany (AFP) Feb 03, 2006, http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Iran_Secretly_Tests_New_Surface_To_Surface_Missile.... 2/6/2006
6. Iran Shihab3 Fails Test Launch, Staff Writers, Washington, DC (UPI) Feb 15, 2006, (Quoting FlightInternational.com defines the launch data and the initial analysis of the event) http://www.spacewars.com/reports/Iran_Shihab3_Fails_Test_Launch.html 2/17/2006
7. Iran has missile capable of hitting Europe: Israel, Jerusalem, April 27 (AFP) April 27, 2006 (defines that it is the No-dong-2 missile that is involved)
8. Iran Deploys Nuke-Capable IRBMs, Jersuslem [MENL]
(confirms additional missile of No-dong-B type delivered etc.)
9. The Closely related Collaborative Iranian & North Korean Strategic Space, Ballistic Missile and Nuclear Weapon Programs, OPEN SOURCE ESTIMATE, By © Charles P. Vick, 1999-05, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Senior Fellow Space Policy Globalsecurity.org 03-20-05 update 07-24-05
10. WMD missiles of Iran & North Korea
11. North Said To Deploy Longer Range Missile, by Lee Chul-hee/Ser Myo-ja, JoongAng Ilbo/Staff Writer, September 9, 2003 #885, http://www.ht.com/pdfs/jai/H200309091001000JA1.PDF
12. North Korea Deploys New Missile, By Joseph S. Bermudez, Janes Defense Weekly Aug. 4, 2004, http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jdw/jdw040802_1_N.shtm
13. North Korea Hybrid Missile Could Threaten US, New Scoentist.com news service, Aug 4, 2004, http://www.newscientist.com/print.jsp?id=ns99996242
14. New N. Korean Missile Said to Threaten U. S., By Mark Travelyan, Berlin (Reuters) August 2004.
15. N. Korea Deploying New Missile with Longer Range, South Says, Seoul, Washington Post, July 9, 2004, P. A15
16. North Deploys New 4,000 km Range Missile, Digital Chosun, The Chosun, IIbo, May 12, 2004, http://www.english.chosun.com/cgi-bin/printNews?.d=200405040031
17. FBIS –Sov-94-079, 25, April 1994, p. 15,Article Views DPRK Nuclear Program ‘Scandal’, Pravda, in Russian, 22-25 April 1994, p.5.
18. North Korea Fortifying Since War In Iraq Souths Government Says, By Jeremy Kirk, Stars and Stripes, Pacific Edition, Yangson Garrison South Korea, July 9, 2004, July 10, 2004.
19. Los Angeles Times, N. Korea Working on Missile Accuracy, By Sonni Efron, Sept 12, 2003.
20. New Suspicions Arise On NK’s Missiles, by Ryu Jin, Staff Reporter, The Korea Times.
21. Hawaii Possibly Within Range of North Korea Missile, By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, Seoul South Korea.
22. North Korea To Display New Missile, by Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, Sept. 9, 2003, P. 1,20.
23. http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200607/200607180002.html, N. Korea May Have Tested New Longer-Range Missiles, Digital Chosun, July.18, 2006 08:33 KST.
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. ?
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|