Iran has ground tested the North Korean-built booster for the Shihab-4 ballistic missile, says Israel's Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies.

North Korea is also assisting Iran to develop solid fuel boosters for its tactical missiles while Tehran is continuing with a parallel effort to develop the Shihab-3.

The Shihab-3, which has been test flown several times, has a 1,300km (700nm) range while the Shihab-4 is intended to have a 2,000km range, but is untested.

Jaffee Centre analysts say the Iranians are also developing solid fuel boosters for their missiles. Such a booster was tested on the 200km-range Fatach-110 missile.

A successful Shihab-3 testin May brings Iran closer to a long-range capability, with missiles potentially equipped with conventional and other warheads. According to an updated Israeli intelligence assessment, Iran may gain this capability as early as 2004.

Israel Military Industries (IMI) has started testing a120km-rangeartillery rocket. Nathan Wechesler, vice-president and director of its rocket systems division, says the weapon has a diameter of "over 300mm [12in]". It is designed to carry 400 bomblets. Recent tests included rockets launched deliberately off-course. These still hit the intended target, says IMI. More test launches are set for the middle of next year. The rocket was developed with partners including Rokar Inter-national, an Israeli BAE Systems subsidiary.

Source: Flight International