Where intelligence is good it can create its own positive momentum. Successful interdictions, having been proved to be based on sound intelligence, increase confidence in the reliability of reporting from the sources. They will also often uncover new leads (from documents and questioning of those involved) that help to fill out an intelligence picture. This was a major intelligence success.
Iran was attacked by Iraq at the beginning of the Iran/Iraq War in 1980, and suffered enormous casualties. Ballistic missiles were used by both sides in battlefield confrontations. Iran had considerably the worse of the strategic-level exchanges in the ‘War of the Cities’ in the final months of the war in 1988. It also suffered seriously from the Iraqi use of chemical warfare munitions on the battlefield, notably during the capture of the Fao Peninsula in early 1988.
During the Iran/Iraq war, Iran launched a chemical weapons programme and invested heavily to develop its ballistic missile capabilities. It now has a substantial and advanced indigenous ballistic missile industry. It has also been pursuing for many years a wide range of nuclear fuel cycle activities, which it claims are for entirely peaceful purposes but which could enable it to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.
Despite Iran’s recent engagement with the IAEA, the UK remains concerned by the potential dangers inherent in the combination of Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities and its nuclear fuel cycle activities.
WHAT WAS KNOWN
It is clear to us that, for the British Government, the greatest concern has been the development by Iran of a capacity to produce fissile material (which could be used to make a nuclear weapon); and ballistic missiles.
Iran acquired the Scud B missile from Syria (produced in the Soviet Union) and from North Korea (indigenously produced). After the Iran/Iraq war, North Korea sold to Iran production technology for first the Scud B and then the Scud C missile (an upgraded North Korean design with a range of 500km), as well as a number of complete missiles of both types.
In the mid-1990s, Iran bought a few examples of the then latest North Korean missile, known to the West as the No Dong 1 and with a range of some 1300km. Iran has since developed its own version of the No Dong 1, called the Shahab 3. The Shahab 3 brings within range the capitals and most of the territories of the states of the Near and Middle East; the Caucasus; Pakistan; most of Central Asia and Turkey; and part of India. Iran is now considering systems beyond the Shahab-3. Some of these longer-range systems are represented as space launchers rather than as ballistic missiles.