Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine:
The North Korean military parade last weekend does more than give world exposure to the heir apparent to Pyongyang’s leadership. It also revealed a new road-mobile ballistic missile – a variant of the BM-25 Musudan with a projected range of 3,000-4,000 km.
More intriguing, North Korea’s weaponry is showing design characteristics associated with the Shahab 3, Iran’s most advanced missile. Such evidence is leading some international analysts to the conclusion that the ballistic missile development ties between the two countries is active and producing improvements in the arsenals of both countries.
While it would seem doubtful that complete missiles or missile sections are being shipped – given the close scrutiny by the West of North Korea shipping – components and engineering data could move relatively easily by air and diplomatic pouch.
For years, Iran has been the junior partner in the relationship and used the conduit to acquire No-dong and other missile technologies to build its own systems. Now, Israeli officials have noted the first public emergence in North Korea of the BM-25 Musudan, a weapon they believe has already been supplied to Iran.
It is believed to the first time the road-mobile, liquid-fueled intermediate range ballistic missile has been shown to anyone outside the North Korean military. The public unveiling took place Oct. 10 during a military parade attended by the country’s leader, Kim Jung-il, and his son and apparent leader-designate, Kim Jung-un.
The BM-25 is a derivative of the Russian-designed, SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile, although it has been increased in length to add range. North Korea showed several of the missile and wheeled launchers during the parade, although the operational status remains uncertain owing to a lack of flight trials detected by outside observers. The range is estimated between 3,000 km to 4000 km depending on warhead mass.
The parade also showcased a No-dong ballistic missile with a tri-conic nosecone. That configuration is typically associated with Iran’s Shahab-3, causing some analysts to suggest technical information gleaned by Tehran in flight trials is being fed to Pyongyang. Such a move would suggest Iran has made considerable progress in developing its indigenous missile engineering expertise.
The latest Iranian ballistic missile developments indicate the missiles “are much more sophisticated and reliable than the [early] Scud designs,” says Arieh Herzog, director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization. “The inertial navigation systems are better and improved guidance in the final phase makes some of them accurate to without about 100 meters.”
The migration of the BM-25 to Iran has major security implications for Europe, since it would give Tehran the ability to strike targets in southern Europe. For Israel, the introduction of the BM-25 would have relatively modest impact on its strategic calculation, since Iran already has the ability to strike Israeli cities with ballistic missiles, but it would allow Iran to disperse its launchers over a much larger area in the eastern part of the country