Iran constructed the Shahroud missile test facility in the late 1980s with Chinese and North Korean assistance, and it has remained the main test facility for the Shahab missile series. 1 In July 1998, Iran launched the first, apparently unsuccessful, test flight of a Shahab-3 missile from the site. 2 In August 2013, Jane’s Intelligence Review reported that over the past three years, Iran had completed an intensive construction program at the site, including “a launch tower and pad, an area to prepare rockets for launch and an administration and support section.” Iranian officials claim the site will be used for Iran’s burgeoning space program. Jane’s editor Matthew Clements, however, noted that “imagery analysis of the Shahrud site suggests it will be a strategic facility used to test ballistic missiles.” 3
- Ballistic missile
- A delivery vehicle powered by a liquid or solid fueled rocket that primarily travels in a ballistic (free-fall) trajectory. The flight of a ballistic missile includes three phases: 1) boost phase, where the rocket generates thrust to launch the missile into flight; 2) midcourse phase, where the missile coasts in an arc under the influence of gravity; and 3) terminal phase, in which the missile descends towards its target. Ballistic missiles can be characterized by three key parameters - range, payload, and Circular Error Probable (CEP), or targeting precision. Ballistic missiles are primarily intended for use against ground targets.
- John W. Garver, China and Iran: Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2006), p. 187; David Makovsky, “North Korean Missiles ‘Due to Arrive in Iran this Month,’” The Jerusalem Post, 5 December 1993, www.jpost.com; Evgeniy P. Bazhanov, “Military-Strategic Aspects of the North Korean Nuclear Program,” in The North Korean Nuclear Program: Security, Strategic and New Perspectives From Russia, eds. James C. Moltz and Alexandre Y. Mansourov, (New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 101-109 and p. 104.
- Gary Samore, Iran’s Strategic Weapons Programmes: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2005), p. 101.
- “Iran has new rocket site, ballistic missile tests possible: report,” Reuters, 8 August 2013, www.reuters.com.