On Wednesday, November 12, the Iranian media reported the test launch of a new missile called the Sejil.
According to Iranian defense minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, the missile is two-staged, with both
stages powered by solid fuel and a range \u201cclose to 2,000 kilometers.\u201d Iran's state-sponsored television
stations accompanied the report with pictures of the test.
The question is how much the news about the missile\u2019s development is in fact news. Some years
ago, Iranian officials already announced that Iranian engineers were at work on \u201creplacing the Shahab-3
missile engine\u201d with a solid fuel engine. Later, the existence of a solid fuel propelled missile named the
Ashura was reported. This missile was tested about a year ago, though no details about the testing were
made public and no pictures of the missile were broadcast. Based on Western intelligence sources, the test
failed. In any event, the Iranians have been known to present identical weapon systems with different
names and use identical names for different weapons systems, so one should not be fooled by
It would seem that this time the test succeeded, and hence Iran's confidence in broadcasting
pictures of the missile launch. Nonetheless, no details about the test were made public. What range the
missile achieved and if it in fact hit the designated target remain unconfirmed, nor is there independent
information regarding the success of the test-firing and the range attained by the test missile. In addition,
and unlike previous occasions, no information about the test has been published to date by the Western
intelligence sources that would undoubtedly monitor such tests closely.
The missile was launched from a level, desert-like region. It was launched vertically (like the Shahab missiles, and unlike the heavier rockets such as the Zelzal). The plume left by the missile after the launch is typical of the launch of a solid fuel propelled missile (and unlike the plume of the liquid fuel propelled Shahab-3).
It was impossible to see the launcher, which was probably deliberately hidden from the cameras, but it was possible to get the sense that the launcher was mobile, similar or even identical to the launchers servicing the Shahab-3 missile.
The missile itself looks strikingly similar to the Shahab-3. To the extent that it is possible to judge on the basis of the photographs, its dimensions are also similar to the dimensions of the Shahab-3.
The missile\u2019s nose cone resembles a baby bottle, and probably has a similar or even identical payloads to that carried by the Shahab-3 M missile (the improved missile that also, according to Iran, has a range of 2,000 kilometers).
It is also possible to see openings, probably used for steering, both in the rear and in the middle portions of the missile, apparently indicating steering capability of both stages.
Developing a solid fuel propelled two-stage missile indicates not inconsiderable technological know-how in a specialized field that differs greatly from the liquid fuel technology that has characterized Iranian missiles to date. Therefore, claims made by
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