CBRN Assessment

Iran dismisses latest European assessment of its ballistic missiles

09 December 2019

Stills taken from a video released on 22 April show a Shahab-3 ballistic missile fitted with a new triconic manoeuvring re-entry vehicle. Source: Letter from the permanent representatives of France, Germany and the UK to the UN Secretary-General, 21 November 2019

Tehran has dismissed the latest European claims about its ongoing ballistic missile developments - including a new type of manoeuvring re-entry vehicle - in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

"This attempt has been made by making reference to such unreliable sources as 'social media' [and] repeated use of terms such as 'if', 'may', and 'likely', which even reflect complete uncertainty," its ambassador to the UN stated in a letter to the UN Security Council released on 7 December.

This was a reference to an earlier letter jointly submitted by France, Germany, and the UK that noted an undated video that was released on social media on 22 April showing a "previously unseen flight test of a new Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile variant equipped with a manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle".

It said the Shahab-3 has previously been fitted with the manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle, but this footage showed a different type that appears to be a modification of triconic re-entry vehicles previously seen on Iranian ballistic missiles, but with a guidance and control section added to the rear of the warhead that has four triangular fins to steer it towards the target.

It noted that triconic manoeuvring re-entry vehicles were previously seen on the smaller Qiam missiles Iran launched at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria on 30 September 2018. It also noted that triconic warheads had been used on the Burkan-2H missiles that the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in northern Yemen have launched into Saudi Arabia, raising the possibility that these weapons could be upgraded with the new manoeuvring version. The Burkan-2H (also Borkan-2H) has been identified as a version of the Qiam that has been modified to give it a range of more than 1,000 km.

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