SS-N-6 With Navigation Sensor System
There are many unconfirmed rumors and speculatse Agency, that Iran is developing a long-range solid-propellant missile called the Ashura, and an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile based on the Russian submarine launched ballistic missile known in the West as the SS-N-6. There is no good evidence at this time to support a technical analysis of Iran's solid propellant ballistic missile program, but we expect to add to, and perhaps modify, this report as new information becomes available. With regard to the SS-N-6, there is evidence that Iran has utilized the turbopump and associated vernier rocket motors (not the main rocket motor) from the SS-N-6 in the second stage of the Safir missile.
These vernier motors are of relatively low thrust, which places some limits on the weight of payloads that this upper stage can carry. The SS-N-6 vernier motors have a sufficiently high exhaust velocity relative to rocket motors based on SCUD technology to make it possible to launch a low-weight satellite into low-earth orbit. The introduction of more efficient engines that use more energetic propellants than those used by missiles based on SCUD technology is a potentially significant development and will be discussed later in this report.
These components might have been sold to North Korea by Russian groups or institutions that were operating in violation of Russian laws. North Korea probably does not have the industrial base and knowhow to improve on these components and it seems likely that they as well lack the ability to manufacture these components.
SCUD missile technology uses relatively low-energy propellants; engines with materials and designs that are very hard to upgrade to more energetic propellants; and primitive guidance systems. The fact that Iran and North Korea rely on imported technology and have not been able to develop their own rocket motors has extremely important implications for the future of Iran’s and North Korea's ballistic missile programs.
Iran and North Korea’s liquid propellant rocket programs depend heavily on the use of two rocket motors. One is the motor from the SCUD-B ballistic missile; and the other is the motor used in the North Korean Nodong missile. Both rocket motors use the same “low-energy” rocket propellants (TM-185, a mixture of 20% gasoline and 80% kerosene, and an oxidizer known as AK27, which is a mix of 27% N2O4 and 73% nitric acid). The Nodong has a bigger motor, which has more than twice the thrust of the SCUD-B motor.