Iran Missile Milestones - 1985-2000

The Risk Report
Volume 6 Number 4 (July-August 2000)

1985: Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani leads a high-level delegation to Libya, Syria, North Korea and China.

1985: Iran agrees to finance North Korea's Scud-B program in exchange for both missile technology and the option to buy the missiles when they become available.

1985: Iran receives its first Scud-Bs from Libya.

1987: China sells Iran "Silkworm" anti-ship cruise missiles.

1988: China agrees to provide Iran with equipment and know-how to develop and test medium-range ballistic missiles.

1988: Iran receives an estimated 100 North Korean Scud-Bs and reportedly signs an agreement to supply Iran with missile technology and technical assistance to manufacture missiles.

1988: Iran successfully tests the 160-kilometer range Mushak-160 missile.

1990: China and Iran reportedly sign a 10-year agreement for scientific cooperation and the transfer of military technology.

1991: Iran test-fires a ballistic missile identified by U.S. intelligence as a North Korean Scud-C.

1991: Syrian chief of staff General Hikmat Shihabi reportedly visits Tehran to discuss building a factory in Syria for joint development and production of surface-to-surface missiles.

1992: The U.S. Department of State sanctions the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics for engaging in "missile technology proliferation activities" with North Korea.

1993: North Korea successfully tests the Nodong missile to a range of about 500 kilometers.

1995: Iran receives four Scud TELs from North Korea.

1996: The United States sanctions one North Korean and two Iranian firms for "missile technology proliferation activities."

1996: Iran test-fires a Chinese-built C-802 surface-to-surface cruise missile.

1996: U.S. Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) states during a Congressional hearing on China's military sales to Iran that U.S. intelligence believes China has "delivered dozens, perhaps hundreds, of missile guidance systems and computerized tools to Iran."

1996: The Washington Times reports that, according to a CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) report entitled "Arms Transfers to State Sponsors of Terrorism," China has supplied Iran with missile technology including gyroscopes and accelerometers as well as test equipment and components for an advanced radar system.

November 1996: Iran reportedly fires, for the first time, a Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile from one of its 10 Chinese-built "Houdong" patrol boats.

September 1997: The Russian Scientific and Production Center Inor agrees to supply Iran's Instrumentation Factories Plant with a high-strength steel alloy and three types of alloy foil used to shield missile guidance equipment.

November 1997: Iran tests the engine of the Shahab-3 missile.

December 1997: U.S. satellite reconnaissance picks up the heat signature of a missile engine test at the Shahid Hemat Industrial Group research facility.

June 1998: The U.S. House of Representatives approves legislation that would impose sanctions on Russia for exporting missile technology to Iran. The legislation applies to any government or company that helps Iran build missiles. The U.S. Senate passed the measure in May.

June 1998: According to an Iranian opposition group, Iran has completed development of the Shahab-3 intermediate range missile and is ready for production.

July 1998: Iran tests the Shahab-3 missile. According to Iranian sources, the 16-meter long missile can carry a 1,000 kilogram payload 1,300 kilometers. The missile is believed to be single-stage, liquid-fueled, scaled-up version of North Korea's Nodong missile.

September 1998: Iran publicly displays the Shahab-3 missile at a military parade. Also on display are five air-to-air missiles, Chinese C-801 and C-802 anti-ship missiles, and three Iranian-built, solid propellant surface-to-surface missiles - the Zelzal-2, the Nazeat, and the Shahin.

February 1999: The United States imposes sanctions on ten Russian entities for providing nuclear and missile technology to Iran.

February 1999: Iran's defense minister Ali Shamkhani announces that the Shahab-4 missile is in production "not for military purposes, but for launching a satellite." U.S. intelligence reportedly believes the missile is derived from the 1950s-era Soviet SS-4 "Sandel" medium-range missile, which had a maximum range of 2,000 kilometers.

August 1999: China reportedly agrees to help Iran upgrade its FL-10 anti-ship cruise missiles.

September 1999: U.S. intelligence is reported to believe that Iran is building the Shahab-5 missile with an estimated range of 3,400 miles.

October 1999: Iran reportedly sells Scud B and Scud C missiles to the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). Iranian military officers and technicians are on hand to help assemble the missiles.

November 1999: U.S. intelligence reportedly believes that North Korea recently sold Iran 12 Nodong missile engines.

January 2000: Iran commissions three production lines at the Education and Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense. They will help Iran become self-sufficient in the production of HTPB resin, aluminium powder and potassium chlorite - all of which are useful in the production of solid rocket propellant.

February 2000: Iran reportedly tests a Shahab-3 missile equipped with a North Korean engine. The missile was launched from a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) at a Revolutionary Guards airbase. Iranian sources say the missile has an inertial navigation guidance system and a circular error probable (CEP) of approximately three kilometers.

March 2000: Israeli and U.S. officials agree that Iran can deploy the Shahab-3 missile.

April 2000: The United States imposes sanctions on Changgwang Sinyong, a North Korean company, and Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group and Sanam for transferring Scud missile technology.

August 2000: In its report on worldwide proliferation, the CIA says Iran has made considerable progress in the development of ballistic missiles, and that entities in Russia, North Korea, and China continued to supply the largest amount of ballistic missile-related goods, technology, and expertise to Iran.

July 2000: Iran tests the Shahab-3 missile. The test is successful according to Iranian state media.

September 2000: Iran tests the Shahab-3 missile, but the missile reportedly explodes shortly after launch.

May 2002: Iran tests the Shahab-3 missile. According to Iranian authorities, the test is successful.

July 2002: Iran tests the Shahab-3 missile. The test is reportedly unsuccessful.

September 2002: Iran claims to have successfully flight tested the Fateh 110, a single-stage, solid-fueled missile, with at least a 200 kilometer range. Iran's state media reports the inauguration of a facility to produce the Fateh 110.

May 2003: The United States imposes sanctions on two Moldovan companies, Cuanta S.A., Computer and Communicatti SRL, and on a Moldovan national, Mikhail Pavlovich Vladov, for engaging in missile technology proliferation with Iran.

May 2003: The United States imposes sanctions on the China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) for engaging in missile proliferation activities with Iran.

June 2003: The United States imposes sanctions on the China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), the Taian Foreign Trade General Corporation, and the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation for engaging in missile proliferation activities with Iran.

July 2003: On July 20, a ceremony is held to mark the distribution of the Shahab-3 to Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The ceremony follows by several weeks what an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman calls the "final test" of the Shahab-3 missile.

November 2003: Iran's defense ministry announces that Iran does not have any program "to build the Shahab 4 missile." The United States remains skeptical of Iran's claim.

November 2003: In its report to Congress on worldwide proliferation, the Central Intelligence Agency says that Iran's ballistic missile inventory is among the largest in the Middle East and that entities in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and China have helped Iran progress in ballistic missile production.