WASHINGTON, Nov 19, 2010 (IPS) – The most important intelligence documents used to argue that Iran had a covert nuclear weapons research and development programme in 2003 – a set of technical drawings of efforts to fit what appears to be a nuclear payload into the reentry vehicle of Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile, the Shahab-3 – turn out to have a fatal flaw: the drawings depict a reentry vehicle that had already been abandoned by the Iranian missile programme in favour of an improved model.
The reentry vehicle or warhead shown in the schematics had the familiar “dunce cap” shape of the original North Korean No Dong missile, an IPS investigation has confirmed. But when Iran had flight-tested a new missile in mid-2004, it did not have that “dunce cap” warhead but a new “triconic” or “baby bottle” shape, which was more aerodynamic than the one on the original Iranian missile.
The development of the new missile and warhead had already been under way for years by that time, according to the author of the most authoritative study of the Iranian missile programme.
The schematics are dated March and April 2003, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report of May 2008. But according to Mike Elleman, lead author of the study published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) last May, Iran had been introducing the new warhead shape, along with other major innovations in the design of the medium-rang… >>>