Iran Has Amassed the Largest Ballistic Missile Force in the Middle East

Zachary Keck

Zachary Keck

Security, Middle East

Thanks to North Korea, China and a few others. 

Iran Has Amassed the Largest Ballistic Missile Force in the Middle East

Deterring regional adversaries from threatening Iran is the primary reason Tehran has amassed the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East.

The missile program actually began under the Shah, but it was accelerated during the Iran-Iraq War in order to threaten Saddam Hussein with strikes deep in Iraqi territory. Since then, Iran has worked with countries like Libya, North Korea and China in order to develop a large and diverse arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles that form one part of its three-leg deterrent strategy. With Iran now using missiles in conflict, it’s worth taking a closer look at the weapons in its arsenal.

(This first appeared back in 2017.)

Shahab-Series

The backbone of Iran's missile forces are the Shahab-series of liquid-fueled (mostly) short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM). There are three variants of the missile: The Shahab-1, Shahab-2 and Shahab-3. The Shahab-1 was the first missile Iran acquired and is based on the Soviet Scud-B missile. Iran reportedly purchased these initially from Libya and possibly Syria, but North Korea has been its main supplier. The Shab-1 has a reported range between 285–330 kilometers, and can carry a warhead of around one thousand kilograms. Iran is believed to have three hundred Shahab-1 rockets.

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