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Cordesman_NSWG_photoIran’s Nuclear Missile Delivery Capability

Dr. Anthony Cordesman & Abdullah Toukan

Center for Strategic and International Studies

November 24, 2014


Recently there has been a lot of attention given to the “Possible Military Dimension” of the Iran Nuclear Program, in particular concerns over
Iran’s ballistic missile program and its nuclear delivery capability. Iran’s potential acquisition of nuclear weapons, and future ability to arm its
missiles and aircraft with such weapons, represents the most serious risk shaping US, Arab, Israeli, and EU relationship with Iran. It is also an
area where the exact details of threat perceptions are particularly critical, although many key aspects of Israeli, US, and Gulf perceptions – as
well as the perceptions of other states – are impossible to determine at an unclassified level.
• Estimates of the nature of Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts vary sharply, although most US, European, Gulf, and Israeli policymakers and experts
now agree that Iran is actively working towards at least the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Similarly, they agree that Iran possesses
virtually all the technology and equipment necessary to produce fission weapons and has significant nuclear weapons design data.
• It is clear that Iran has the Institutional and Industrial Infrastructure steps required to build a Nuclear Bomb and a Delivery System. There is no
agreement as to exactly how far Iran has come in weapons design and “weaponization” if a dedicated program exists.
This could lead to two “what if “ scenarios regarding the Iran Nuclear Program:
o Iran as a Nuclear Threshold State. The presence of nuclear weapons production programs with the capability to produce one nuclear
weapon (low, medium or high tech).
o Iran already is in possession of a low Yield (20kt) crude Nuclear Weapon (same yield as the nuclear bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan) ,
and has modified its Shahab-3 ballistic missile to fit the weight, size and shape of the nuclear devise.

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