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29 December 2005
Iran acquires ballistic missiles from DPRK

By Alon Ben-David JDW Correspondent
Tel Aviv

Iran has acquired medium/ intermediate-range ballistic missiles (MRBM/IRBMs) from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea - DPRK) with a range of at least 2,500 km, regional intelligence sources have confirmed to JDW. However, analysts remain puzzled over the rationale of the Iranian acquisition.

Citing a study by the German Federal Intelligence Service, the German daily newspaper Bild reported on 16 December that Iran has acquired 18 disassembled IRBMs from the DPRK. Referring to the missiles as 'BM-25' models, the newspaper said they were based on the Soviet SS-N-6 (R-27) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

According to previous JDW reports, the DPRK, with the help of Russian specialists from the VP Makeyev Design Bureau in Miass, Chelyabinsk, has utilised the R-27 technology to develop two new (land-based and naval) versions of the R-27 with extended ranges. The land-based version, sometimes referred to as 'Taepo Dong X', is believed to have a range of 2,500 to 4,000 km. Fuelled with a storable liquid propellant, the new missile has greater survivability compared with the DPRK's No Dong and Hwasong families of missiles.

"Although the technology is 40 years old, the SS-N-6 SLBM is a very complicated missile, which is not easy to copy and does not align with the current Iranian efforts," Uzi Rubin, former director of Israel's Ballistic Missile Defence Organisation, told JDW.

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