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Iran Tests MRBM

Chinese ICBMs

New Pakistani Missile?

Key Findings of Rumsfeld Commission

The quickly evolving and expanding nature of worldwide ballistic missiles threats is a key theme outlined by the Rumsfeld Commission in its summary report. Here we offer a selection of the Commission's key findings:

Reduced Warning Time

"The warning times the US can expect of new, threatening ballistic missile deployments are being reduced. Under some plausible scenarios - including re-basing or transfer of operational missiles, sea- and air-launch options, shortened development programs that might include testing in a third country, or some combination of these - the US might well have little or no warning before operational deployment."

Emerging Missile Programs are Different

"These programs require neither high standards of missile accuracy, reliability and safety nor large numbers of missiles and therefore can move ahead rapidly. A nation that wants to develop ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction can now obtain extensive technical assistance from outside sources. Foreign assistance is not a wild card [as the US intelligence community has asserted]. It is a fact. Nations are increasingly able to conceal important elements of their ballistic missile and associated WMD programs and are highly motivated to do so."

Emerging ICBMs Possible

"With the external help now readily available, a nation with a well-developed, Scud-based ballistic missile infrastructure would be able to achieve first flight of a long range missile, up to and including intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) range (greater than 5,500 km), within about five years of deciding to do so. During several of those years the US might not be aware that such a decision had been made."
Iran Tests MRBM

Chinese ICBMs

New Pakistani Missile?

Key Findings of Rumsfeld Commission


"Russia continues to pose a ballistic missile threat to the United States, although of a different character than in the past....With the Cold War ended, the likelihood of a deliberate missile attack on the US from Russia has been greatly lessened but not entirely eliminated....Russia poses a threat to the US as a major exporter of enabling technologies, including ballistic missile technologies, to countries hostile to the United States. In particular, Russian assistance has greatly accelerated Iran's ballistic missile program.


"China is modernizing its long range missiles and nuclear weapons in ways that will make it a more threatening power in the event of a crisis....China also poses a threat to the US as a significant proliferator of ballistic missiles, weapons of mass destruction and enabling technologies."

North Korea

"The status of the [Taepo Dong 2 ICBM]...cannot be determined precisely. Once the system is assessed to be ready, a flight test could be conducted within six months of a decision to do so. If North Korea judged the test to be a success, the TD-2 could be deployed rapidly.... This missile could reach major cities and military bases in Alaska and the smaller, westernmost islands in the Hawaiian chain. Lightweight variations of the TD-2 could fly as far as 10,000 km [6,200 miles], placing at risk western US territory in an arc extending northwest from Phoenix, Arizona, to Madison, Wisconsin. These variants of the TD-2 would require additional time to develop and would likely require an additional flight test."
With regard to the No Dong MRBM, "the Commission judges that the No Dong was operationally deployed long before the US Government recognized the fact....[and] it is highly likely that considerable numbers of No Dongs have been produced."


"The ballistic missile infrastructure in Iran is now more sophisticated than that of North Korea, and has benefited from broad, essential, long-term assistance from Russia and important assistance from China as well. Iran is making very rapid progress in developing the Shahab-3 MRBM....This missile may be flight tested at any time [see above] and deployed soon thereafter."
"We judge that Iran now has the technical capability and resources to demonstrate an ICBM-range ballistic missile, similar to the TD-2...within five years of a decision to proceed--whether that decision has already been made or is yet to be made."


"Once UN-imposed controls are lifted, Iraq could mount a determined effort to acquire needed plant and equipment, whether directly or indirectly. Such an effort would allow Iraq to pose an ICBM threat to the United States within 10 years. Iraq could develop a shorter-range, covert, ship-launched missile threat that could threaten the United States in a very short time."


"Pakistan's ballistic missile infrastructure is now more advanced that that of North Korea. It will support development of a missile of 2,500 km [1,550 mile] range, which we believe Pakistan will seek in order to put all of India within range of Pakistani missiles. The development of a 2,500 km missile will give Pakistan the technical base for developing a much longer range missile system [see above].

US as a Contributor to Proliferation

"The acquisition and use of transferred technologies in ballistic and WMD programs has been facilitated by foreign student training in the US, by wide dissemination of technical information, by the illegal acquisition of US designs and equipment and by the relaxation of US export control policies. As a result, the US has been and is today a major, albeit unintentional, contributor to the proliferation of missiles and associated weapons of mass destruction."

A pre-publication copy of the Rumsfeld Commission Executive Summary Report can be obtained Here.

Copyright Ranger Associates, Inc. 1998