Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program

February 15, 2023

Weapon Program: 

  • Missile


Behnam Ben Talebu

Author's Title: 

Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies


Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal is growing in size and quality. It is a threat to U.S. interests and the security of America’s allies in the greater Middle East. Improvements in ballistic missile precision, range, mobility, warhead design, and survivability (including the creation of underground missile depots) imply an increasingly lethal long-range strike capability in the hands of the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

Iran’s diverse ballistic missile program is an outgrowth of Tehran’s experiences during the Iran-Iraq War, which taught the nascent revolutionary regime the imperatives of deterrence and self-reliance. Status and security considerations also spur Iran’s ballistic missile drive, as they do its nuclear program.

Iran’s ballistic missile program benefits from sustained elite backing. The program was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the ideological military that exists alongside Iran’s conventional forces. The missile program is now underwritten by a broad swath of government-connected defense contractors, enabling the procurement, production, and proliferation of missile systems and associated technologies or materials.


Read the full monograph at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies website.