North Korean advanced BM-25 missiles on display in October. Iran has reportedly bought 19 of these missiles.
The New York Times reports today that the leaked secret US intelligence assessments dated 24 February of this year concluded that Iran has obtained 19 advanced missiles from North Korea capable of hitting targets in Western Europe. The missiles, based on a Russian design, are much more powerful than anything Iran was thought to have in its inventory. The US officials said that the missiles’ advanced propulsion could speed Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The North Korean missiles are based on a Russian design called R-27, once deployed aboard Soviet submarines carrying nuclear warheads. The North Korean version of the missile is known as BM-25, and could also carry nuclear warheads. The 24 February secret document obtained by WikiLeakes indicated US intelligence belief that 19 of these missiles have already been shipped to Iran, and that Iran is working to master the technology in order to build a new generation of missiles.
Previously Iran was thought to have missiles capable of 1,200 miles range. The range of Russian R-27 launched from a submarine was thought to be 1,500 miles. The BM-25 is longer and heavier, giving it a range of up to 2,000 miles.
By obtaining BM-25s, Iran not only has dramatically improved its missile capabilities, but it now has the know-how to design and build a new class of more powerful missile engines, the cable said as reported by The New York Times.
“Iran wanted engines capable of using more-energetic fuels,” the 24 February able said, “and buying a batch of BM-25 missiles gives Iran a set it can work on for reverse engineering.”
At the request of the Obama administration, The New York Times has agreed not to publish the text of the 24 February cable.
Click here to read The New York Times article.
Photo: The New York Times