Iran and Iraq continue to be the most active countries amassing ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technology with China, North Korea and Russia supplying the bulk of the capability enhancement.

The US Central Intelligence Agency says in its latest report to Congress on WMD and advanced conventional weapons, covering July to December last year, that China, North Korea and Russia "continue to supply crucial ballistic missile-related equipment, technology and expertise to Iran". The report adds that Tehran continues to strive to become "self-sufficient in ballistic missiles production".

The CIA also acknowledges that Iran continues to "keep operational at least half of its existing fleet of Western-built aircraft". Most of these were supplied by the US Aprior to the 1979 revolution.

United Nations access to Iraq ceased following Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, but the CIA says it still "reconstitutes prohibited programmes", including the modification of Aero L-29Delfin jet trainers to unmanned air vehicles for carrying chemical and biological warfare agents. Baghdad also continues to pursue development of short range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), says the CIA. Low level operational capability of the liquid-propellant Al-Samoud SRBM is close, while the solid-propellant Ababil-100 is probably receiving a higher development priority, says the agency.

China is accused in the report of taking "a very narrow interpretation of its bilateral proliferation commitments". Chinese companies have provided "dual-use missile-related items, raw materials, and/or assistance to Iran, North Korea, and Libya," says the CIA.

Source: Flight International