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Project Koussar, also known as Project Kowsar, is an alleged intermediate range or intercontinental ballistic missile program of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


According to an article published on the Jane's Defence Weekly's September 13, 2006 issue, which quotes unnamed Western diplomatic sources, the alleged new missile will be independent of the current Shahab family of missiles, and will have a range of 4,000 to 5,000 km.[1] Development is reportedly being led by Iran's Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which is responsible for Iran's ballistic missile program. The program is allegedly attempting to reverse-engineer an RD-216 engine, which Iran has probably acquired from Russia in the late 1990s. The RD-216 engine was used in - the now obsolete - Russian R-14 Chusovaya (SS-5 Skean) IRBM and in the SL-8 Cosmos launch vehicle. Jane’s notes that "Project Koussar" is believed to be in the preliminary design review stage, and quotes sources stating that Iran is making progress in the RD-216 reverse engineering.[1][2][3]

The book Iran's Military Forces and Warfighting Capabilities by Anthony H. Cordesman and Martin Kleiber mentions Project Koussar in its description of the Shahab-5 and Shahab-6 missile projects, which also are allegedly based on the RD-216 engine. According to the book, "the effort to develop an ICBM with the Russian RD-216 engine in some sources has been named 'Project Koussar.' There reports [about the missile projects] remain uncertain, and Israeli media and official sources have repeatedly exaggerated the nature and speed of Iranian efforts."[4]

The book Tehran Rising by Ilan Berman also mentions the missile project. According to the book, "Opposition groups have charged that Iran's overt missile development masks a much larger clandestine endeavor - one that encompasses both the 4,000-kilometer range Shahab-5 and even a follow in intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) known as the 'Kowsar'. This assessment rings true; according to U.S. intelligence officials, Iran is now estimated to have made sufficient headway to allow for testing of ICBM components in 2005."[5]

An article published by the RIA Novosti news agency in March, 2009, states, that some unnamed Western and Russian sources claim that Iran may be currently running a program dubbed Project Koussar to develop an IRBM. According to Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Nuclear Forces, quoted by the RIA Novosti article, "Iran is actively working on a missile development program. I won't say the Iranians will be able to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles in the near future, but they will most likely be able to threaten the whole of Europe."[2]

An Israeli article published in 2000 predicted, that the development of the Kowsar 4,000-5,000 km-range missile will be completed by 2010. The article is allegedly based on CIA reports.[6]

According to some sources Project Koussar might be another name for Shahab-6.[7][8][9]


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