Iran-North Korea-Syria Ballistic Missile and Nuclear Cooperation

February 26, 2016

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile


Paul K. Kerr, Steven A. Hildreth, Mary Beth D. Nikitin


Congressional Research Service


Congress has at times expressed concern regarding ballistic missile and nuclear programs in Iran,North Korea, and Syria. This report focuses primarily on unclassified and declassified U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) assessments over the past two decades. These assessments indicate that

  • there is no evidence that Iran and North Korea have engaged in nuclear-related trade or cooperation with each other, although ballistic missile technology cooperation between the two is significant and meaningful, and
  • Syria has received ballistic missiles and related technology from North Korea and Iran and also engaged in nuclear technology cooperation with North Korea.

All three countries discussed in this report have short-range ballistic missiles. Iran and North Korea also have medium-range ballistic missiles; North Korea has intermediate-range ballistic missiles as well. North Korea has tested nuclear weapons on three occasions; Iran and Syria’s nuclear programs have raised suspicions that those countries are pursuing nuclear weapons. However, Iran has, according to the IC, halted its nuclear weapons program, and Syria does not appear to have an active nuclear weapons program.