Missile Multinational: Iran's New Approach to Missile Proliferation

April 26, 2021

Weapon Program: 

  • Missile


Fabian Hinz


International Institute for Strategic Studies

The proliferation of ballistic missiles and artillery rockets to non-state actors by the Islamic Republic of Iran is a constant source of tension in the Middle East. Yemen’s Houthi rebels conduct ballistic-missile strikes on Saudi Arabian cities, airports and oil installations; Hizbullah’s ever-growing rocket and missile arsenal sparks Israeli consideration of military options; and Iranian proxies rocket the United States’ installations in Iraq on an almost weekly basis.

But how does Iran equip its proxies and allies with increasingly sophisticated and longer-range ballistic missiles and artillery rockets? For years, the answer has been through smuggling. In one example, on 19 March 2021 Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir claimed that all Houthi missiles fired at the Kingdom were ‘made in Iran’, and there is ample evidence that Houthis were the recipients of weapons such as Iran’s short-range Qiam ballistic missile. Iran doubtlessly continues to directly transfer missiles outside its borders to some degree. However, in recent years smuggling has been augmented by two other transfer methods: the provision of guidance kits to modify existing stockpiles of artillery rockets, and the wholescale provision of manufacturing capabilities.


Read the rest of the report at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.