DCI National Intelligence Estimate
Emerging Missile Threats to North America During the Next 15 Years
Secret NOFORN Rel CAN
No country, other than the major declared nuclear powers, will develop or otherwise acquire a
ballistic missile in the next 15 years that could threaten the contiguous 48 states and Canada.
Ballistic missile programs of other countries are focused on regional security concerns and are not
expected to evolve into threats to North America during the period of this estimate.
- Among Third World countries hostile to the United States, North Korea has the most advanced
ballistic missile program. One of its missiles in development, the Taepo Dong 2, is assessed to have
a range of 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers. A 6,000-kilometer range would be sufficient to strike portions
of Alaska and the far western portion of the Hawaiian Island chain (more than 1,000 kilometers west
- North Korea is unlikely to obtain the technological capability to develop a longer range
operational ICBM. North Korea would have to overcome significant hurdles to complete such a
program, particularly given the political and economic uncertainties and technological challenges
it faces. For such an ICBM, North Korea would have to develop new propulsion and improved
guidance and control systems and conduct a flight test program. We have no evidence that
Pyongyang has begun or intends to begin such a program, and we think we would detect propulsion
We are likely to detect any indigenous long-range ballistic missile program many years before
- We have no evidence Iran wants to develop an ICBM. Even if Tehran wanted to, we assess that
it would not be able to do so before 2010 because it lacks the economic resources and technological
- Iraq's ability to develop an ICBM is severely constrained by international sanctions and the
intrusive U.N. inspections and monitoring regime. Should these programs end, Baghdad could
develop the technology and infrastructure necessary for an ICBM program. But even with substantial
foreign assistance, it would require at least 15 years to develop an operational ICBM.
- Three countries not hostile to the United States - India, Israel and Japan - could develop ICBMs
within as few as five years if they were motivated, but we judge that they are unlikely to make the
necessary investment during the period of this estimate.
We expect countries that currently have ICBMs will not sell them. Each of the countries either is a
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) member or has agreed to abide by its terms and
recognizes that transfer of an intercontinental range missile would show blatant disregard for the
regime. Also, countries probably would be concerned that any missiles sold might some day be
turned against them.
- Developmental flight-testing normally would provide a minimum of five years warning before
deployment. We would probably see other indicators of an ICBM program, particularly propulsion
related development efforts, two to 10 years before the first flight test - seven to 15 years before
- Foreign assistance is a wild card that can sometimes permit a country to solve difficult
developmental problems relatively quickly. Such external assists can hinder our ability to predict
how soon a system will become operational.
- Any country with a capability to produce space boosters could almost certainly use the same
facilities and personnel to produce most ICBM components. However, a development program for
a space launch vehicle (SLV) by a potentially hostile state with nuclear ambitions would be a key
indicator of a potential ICBM program.
Similarly, we do not believe any country with space launch vehicles will sell them. Furthermore, if
a country were to purchase an SLV, converting it to an ICBM would involve technological obstacles
roughly as challenging as those involved in an indigenous ICBM program.
We see no indications, and think it unlikely, that any potentially hostile nation will develop
submarine-launched ballistic missiles over the period of this estimate. Launching ballistic missiles
from surface vessels or aircraft is so technically challenging as to be a highly unlikely approach.
By 2005, several countries, including some hostile toward the United States, probably will acquire
land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) with ranges of hundreds kilometers. A cruise missile attack on
North America by a Third World country, using ships (or possibly aircraft) off the coast as launch
platforms, would be technically feasible. However, we think such an act is unlikely because of the
perceived difficulty of ensuring mission success. It is extremely unlikely any Third World country
would acquire submarine-launched LACMs and use them against North America because of the
technological sophistication required and the difficulty of deploying submarines far from home port.
Because of the size and nature of cruise missile systems, as well as the hard-to-detect signatures
associated with flight testing, LACM development programs can be easily hidden, thus limiting our
confidence in early detection.
The MTCR significantly limits the availability of missiles, components, and related technology. We
project it will continue to serve as a substantial barrier to countries interested in acquiring ballistic
missiles, but some leakage of components and critical technologies will likely continue. Because of
their relatively greater dual-use nature, technology and components applicable to LACMs will
proliferate more widely than those for ballistic missiles.
Unauthorized or Accidental Launch
We conclude that the current threat to North America from unauthorized or accidental launch of
Russian or Chinese strategic missiles remains remote and has not changed significantly from that
of the past decade. However, we are less confident about the future, in view of the fluid political
situations in both countries. If there were a severe political crisis in either country control of the
nuclear command structure could become less certain, increasing the possibility of an unauthorized
launch. Nevertheless the possibility would remain quite low.
Prepared under the auspices of David J. Osias, national intelligence officer for strategic programs
and nuclear proliferation. Inquiries may be directed to the NIO on ___.
Footnote 1: India is planning
ballistic missiles (SLBM) with a 300-km range for
deployment by 2010.