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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Shahab-6/Simorgh-5, 6?

(Simorgh-5 /6, TD-2 with three stages or more redesigned?)

© Charles P. Vick 2007 All Rights Reserved

March 5, 2007- May 25, 2010/11-5-12, 4-1-2013

Simorgh-4/5 IRILV {Phoenix-3}, Block-II

That could be followed by the replacement of the Simorgh-3’s second stage with a Unha-2/No-dong-B second stage 1.5 meter diameter along with the Unha-2 1.35 meter diameter third stage would constitute the Taep’o-dong-2B booster design a limited range ICBM.

Simorgh-5/6 IRILV {Phoenix-3}, Block-III

After that a further design could be potential full range ICBM and manned spaceflight system payload with a new second and third stage of constant diameter design like its first stage.

 Simorgh-6/7 IRILV {Phoenix-3}, Block-IV

Beyond this lies the potential for a two first stage strap-on booster configuration with the constant diameter three stage core could constitute a much larger performance triple barrel heavy booster design based on the Simorgh-5/6 concept as developed in the west under various launch vehicle programs that never made it past the concept stage.

Speculation on Growth Potential Simorgh-3 Systems Design

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 / 01-26-2009

Iran Coming Technological Surprise

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-2B 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.

The Emerging Iranian Shahab-6/Taep’o-dong-2B Launch Infrastructure Unanswered Question

There is also video imagery from the Safir-II launch of what appears to be a second launch facility one finger valley over with a larger gantry or umbilical tower larger than the one used for the Safir launched without a tower crane already built for a newer larger launch vehicle possibly for the Taep’o-dong-2 class satellite launch vehicle design or perhaps designed to use the Safir launch vehicle as its second and third stage expected by 2010. I had previously predicted this as noted below but no organization has gone after the launch site imagery yet.

The second more permanent advanced launch site then under construction in the 2004 imagery had all the hall marks of the North Korean, Taep’o-dong-2B and Chinese “Long March” launch infrastructure design heritage. It has been so heavily imaged one is drawn to this for its obvious technological surprise strategic implications. The apparent details of its launch infrastructure displays what appears to be the beginning of a single launch vehicle flame jet deflector tunnel to go under the gantry umbilical tower beside the launch pad. There is almost certainly a static launch pad structure in place of similar, but larger design to that used by the “Safir” TEL. The gantry umbilical tower will greatly resemble the North Korean, Chinese Long March heritage design probably topped with an assembly gantry crane. In fact no gantry crane has been sighted so far. In front of and surrounding the pad there appears to be a pad apron for the erector transporter to help in assembling the multistage heavy booster. At the far end of the apron away from the pad appears the foundation for a propellant handling infrastructure building that may house a possible propellant farm behind it furthest away from the pad. There are at least two roads approaching the complex that has the beginnings of a parameter road and fence lines and raised earthen burns among other recognizable features. Until more up to date 2008 imagery becomes available it will remain uncertain whether this larger more permanent facility closely resembling Taep’o-dong-2B type launch facility infrastructure has in fact been built in Iran.

The below illustration is a provisional design study of the possible Taep'o-dong-2B type launch facility based on the Google Earth image of the foundation work with the characteristic details.

Taep’o-dong-2C/3 Potential Test Site layout on the Iranian, Semnan ballistic missile space booster test range range

(TD-2 with three stages or more redesigned?)

© Charles P. Vick 2007 All Rights Reserved

March 5, 2007- May 25, 2010


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


(TD-2 with three stages or more redesigned?)

The Shahab-6 is expected to have a range of 5,470-5,500 and 5,632-6,200 kilometers with a 1,000-750-500 (1,158-650 kilograms identified) kilogram warhead. This range capability will depend on the number of stages used in the launch vehicle and their performance. December 1996 news reports claimed that Iran is developing a 3,500-mile (5,632 kilometers) range missile called Shahab-6 that would be capable of reaching Europe. The technology for this system was cited as coming from Russia and North Korea. Reportedly the missile would become operational by the year 2,000, though others reports claim that Iran intends to complete the development of this system within five to ten years. Presumably this missile will turn out to be a totally redesigned Taep’o-dong-2C/3/NKSL-X-3 Iranian first stage derivation with new redesigned shorter larger diameter second and third stages.

DPRK & Iran's Overall Launch Vehicle Development Heritage

Quoting from the Oct. 1, 1998, The Washington Times, "Israeli, Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Iran is developing the Shahab-4 which can reach well into Europe, and the Shahab-5 and 6, which (will have the capacity) to reach the Eastern Sea board (of the United States)". The article went on to quote from the Blue-ribbon Congressional Commission --- headed by then former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "In addition to this Scud-based long-range ballistic missile program, Iran has acquired and is seeking major, advanced missile components that can be combined to produce ballistic missiles with sufficient range to strike the United States, "----." (1) The following information was provided from the July 16, 1999, The Washington Times article. Iran's Kosar launch vehicle was suggested to be the Iranian variant of the North Korea's Taep'o-dong-2 booster. The new missile was said to be undergoing design development with assistance from Russian aerospace technicians and state-run entities. It was suggested that it could be powered with a version of Russia's storable liquid propellant RD-216 closed cycle two engine cluster in its booster first stage. The RD-216 is an Energomash engine originally used on the Skean/SS-5/R-14, IRBM, Saddler/SS-7/R-16, ICBM and Sasin/R-26 ICBM missiles developed during the cold war. It is still used on the C-1, Kosmos/SL-8 Russian space booster. This does suggest fairly strongly that Iran has acquired through elicit means the designs of both the SS-4, RD-214 and the SS-5, RD-216 storable liquid propellant rocket engines and the SS-4 missile body production technology. This is questionable but gives some insight into the Taep'o-dong-2 first stage design. It was based on new information suggesting there had been another rocket engine technology transfer from a Russian rocket engine entity Energomash. (2) No further clarifying information on this has since surfaced. Energomash was later accused of providing "Water Pumping" turbo machinery for Iran as a part of a joint venture but all charges for that were dropped since it apparently did not go through.

Missile Systems Nomenclature

North Korea Iran Pakistan

Liquid Propellant Launch Vehicles

1. Scud-B =Shahab-1  
2. Scud-C =Shahab-2  
3. No-dong-A =Shahab-3,3A &3B, =Ghauri-II
4. No-dong-B =? Shahab-4 n/a
5. Taep’o-dong-1 =Taep’o-dong-1A? n/a ?
6. n/a =Shahab-3D/IRIS n/a
7. Taep’o-dong-2,2A =Kosar-Shahab-5 n/a
8. Taep’o-dong-2B? =Shahab-5/6?Simorgh series n/a
9. Taep’o-dong-2C/3 =Shahab-6 Simorgh series n/a

Solid Propellant Motor Launch Vehicles

1. n/a Ghadr-101 =Shaheen-1?
2. n/a Ghadr-110 =Shaheen-2 ?
3. n/a Ghadr-110A =Shaheen-3 ?
4. n/a Space L. V./ICBM Space L. V./ICBM

This unproven rocket engine technology transfer from Russia to Iran would not give Iran the engine documentation or the actual hardware. Nor did it give the Iranians precise engineering drawings of each part or the materials and technology to produce and duplicate that technology. The only application where the Iranians could apply this acquired rocket engine technology is in the Shahab-5 and Shahab-6 boosters programs. However this assumes the Iranians can even produce the engines. Certainly that will take Iran and North Korea years beyond their intended design development cycle for those launch vehicles in order for them to assimilate that rocket engine technology. Therefore they are left with no other alternative but to work with the North Korean engine technology in their possession and their rework of it for the Shahab-5 and Shahab-6 programs in cooperation with North Korea. Early in 2007 after eight years there has been no further evidence of such technology emerging from the North Korean or Iranian ballistic missile or space booster programs. The suggestion that they are based on the conceptual Taep’o-dong-2 design variation appears to be the only correct suggestion remaining. However North Korea and Iran have acquired the advanced SS-N-6/SS-NX-13 derived No-dong-B technology. It is interesting to note that both Iran and North Korea have yet to show the No-dong-B publicly indicating their importance to the live real deployed arsenal. The technology of the No-dong-B was applied to the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 flight booster of July 4.5, 2006.

Ultimately Iran will have to redesign the upper stages of the original Taep’o-dong-2, Shahab-5 booster in order to improve its performance to meet the Shahab-6 requirements. This is because of its design aspect ratio, the length to diameter of each stage and the total vehicle length to diameter design and its upper stage mass fraction, the upper stages total structural mass as a function of the aspect ratio that should be minimized. It will also have to develop more powerful storable liquid propellant rocket engines beyond those they are now working with for Shahab-5. This will take Tehran five to seven years under the most optimum of conditions assuming it has the political will, economic vitality, facilities infrastructure, materials, in addition to the trained, educated and experienced personnel to support such an expensive effort of this magnitude. At this point it is far from being a credible threat to the United States. These redesign considerations became an accomplished fact with the No-dong-B introduction and the introductory flight test of the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 the Shahab-6 launch vehicle July 4/5, 2006 redesigned Taep’o-dong-2 class space booster, ICBM.

It was apparent during early 2002 that the original design considered for the Taep’o-dong-2/Shahab-5, 6 was going to have to undergo a radical redesign to meet the required performance desired by both North Korea and Iran . At the time during 2000-2001 the Shahab-6 was design study concept with a better mass fraction and aspect ratio than that of the Shahab-5 similar to the Taep’o-dong-2B three stage conceptual design. That is its upper stages will be shorter and larger in diameter similar to the Chinese CSS-3, and CSS-3A LRICBM. The second stage will probably be the same diameter as the first stage but only time would clarify these design issue. This is where Iran will finally start developing large missiles from scratch on its own beyond what it is doing with Shahab-5. It will take some years for this design of the Shahab-6 to manifest itself as the Shahab-5, Shahab-6 the Iranian variant of the North Korean Taep’o-dong-2 nears completion. Several design variations are possible. Thus the Shahab-6 has to be shorter and have larger diameter upper stages than those used in the Taep’o-dong-2 upper stages in order to be flyable.

On February 9, 2000, The Washington Times, disclosed the following information, “The [12] engines arrived in Iran on Nov. 21, (1999) after they were spotted being loaded aboard an Iran Air Boeing 747 cargo jet that left Suinan International Airfield about 12 miles north of-----Pyongyang (North Korea)”. These are the same engines used in No-dong MRBM.

The article went on to state that China is continuing to “sell missile technology to North Korea despite promises ---“, and that the North Koreans continue to prepare to flight test the Taep’o-dong-2 launch vehicle.

The article went on to describe several design alternatives for the use of the engines by Iran that could be used to create a Taep’o-dong-2 class booster. When considering the Shahab-5, 6 class booster they could utilize a new first stage equipped with multiple No-dong-A engines and a second stage equipped with one or more No-dong-A engines with a solid motor third stage and warhead. The final concept presented suggested a new first stage equipped with a Russian engine or engine cluster topped with a single or multiple No-dong-A engines for a second stage with a solid motor third stage with a warhead. Some of these alternative concepts would certainly address the original Taep'o-dong-2 mass fraction and stage aspect ratio problems but such improvements may have to wait for the introduction of the Shahab-6 launch vehicle. (3)

Some sources claim that the Russians are helping a solid-fuel design team at the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group in Teheran develop a 2,800-mile range missile, capable of reaching London and Paris, and a 6,300-mile [10,000 km] range missile that could strike cities in the eastern United States. These reports are poorly documented and would appear to be highly speculative.

On August 6, 2003 a report by Sankei Shimbun cited military sources that indicated that North Korea was planning to export components of its Taep'o-dong 2 missile to Iran where North Korean experts would assemble the components in a facility near Tehran. The negotiations between North Korea and Iran began sometime in 2002 and were expected to be completed in October 2003.

In May 2004 Middle East Newsline reported that Western intelligence sources Teheran had been negotiating with Pyongyang for the purchase of the Taep’o-dong-2 as Iran 's first intercontinental ballistic missile as well as a space launcher. It was also claimed that in 2003 North Korea had discussed the Taep’o-dong-2 with Libya and Syria , but neither country expressed serious interest.

On 16 February 2005 Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, testified that "We judge Iran will have the technical capability to develop an ICBM by 2015. It is not clear whether Iran has decided to field such a missile."

Six Years Later Perspective

However with the three separate programs having replaced the original Shahab-4/Taep’o-dong-1 program launch vehicle with the successful flights of the Shahab-3B on August 11, 2004 and the No-dong-B on January 17, 2006 as well as the new Ghadr-101. The subsequently July 5, 2006 flight test of the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 replaced the original design Taep’o-dong-2, 2A and 2B the Shahab-5, 6 launch vehicle design with an all new design launch vehicle in development for over seven years. No-dong-B had in fact been introduced into the North Korean inventory in 2003-2004 which was the precursor to the replacement Taep’o-dong-2C/3 design utilizing it airframe and propulsion design technology with a much higher performance system over the previous designs. One would think that with the less effective Taep’o-dong-1 design relegated to uselessness by the greater performance strategic and future satellite launch vehicle programs would have totally disappeared. That may be so but the only launch vehicle available for Iran today is the reworked up-rated Taep’o-dong-1A design to launch a less than 50 kilogram satellite into earth orbit since the Taep’o-dong-2C/3 is not nearly as ready as they would like it to be. The bottom line is that the propulsion system totally changed for the North Koreans and Iranians with the introduction of the No-dong-B, 3,218 - 4,000 kilometer range IRBM development completion and deployment which directly impacting the Shahab-4, 5, 6 programs back during the years 1998-2001. Taep’odong-2C/3 took over two and a part of a third North Korean five year plans to finally fly in the summer of 2006 when it was expected soon after the Taep’o-dong-1 launch on August 31, 1998 some time in the follow on five year plan during the middle years 2003-2004. There is only one reason for this and that is a total redesign and development of a new advance higher performance launch vehicle requiring an additional 5-7 years. In this particular case it would appear that the Taep’o-dong-2, 2A and 2B designs served as technology precursors developers for the follow Taep’o-dong-2C/3 final design launch vehicle. So, yes both Iran and North Korea did redirect its launch vehicle development. Shahab-6 is Taep’o-dong-2C/3 in all probability because there is no other alternative.

For further information on Shahab-6 see the Shahab-5 and Taep’o-dong-2 sections


1. Seiff, Martin, “ Iran’s long range missile plans worry Netanyahu”, The Washington Times, 1 Oct.1998, pp. A13.

2. Timmerman, Kenneth, “ Iran’s deadly missile potential”, The Washington Times, 16, July 1999, pp. A15.

3. Gertz, Bill, “ N. Korea sells Iran missile engines”, The Washington Times, 9, Feb. 2000, pA1.

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Page last modified: 05-04-2013 11:15:00 ZULU