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Monday, April 03, 2006

Iranian Missiles: Noise of Empty Wessels?

Is Iran simply bragging? And if so, why?

Iran March 31st proudly announced the launching of a Fajr-3 - Victory in Farsi - "stealth missile" , allegedly ranging more than 1250 miles, invisible to radar and carrying multiple warheads.

Few days later came the submarine stealth missile. The Islamic Republic claimed to have "developed the world’s “fastest underwater missile” which could destroy both battleships and submarines."

Today they announced the planned firing of a brand new torpedo, again a stealth thing of allegedly enormous speed and range.

Add to this the ongoing nuclear armament and the unhidden desire to become an Islamic world power, - and we all end up with the picture of Nazi-Germany during the late thirties.

October 2005, Telegraph's Con Coughlin wrote this:

"Former members of the Russian military have been secretly helping Iran to acquire technology needed to produce missiles capable of striking European capitals.

The Russians are acting as go-betweens with North Korea as part of a multi-million pound deal they negotiated between Teheran and Pyongyang in 2003. It has enabled Teheran to receive regular clandestine shipments of top secret missile technology, believed to be channelled through Russia.

Western intelligence officials believe that the technology will enable Iran to complete development of a missile with a range of 2,200 miles, capable of hitting much of Europe. It is designed to carry a 1.2-ton payload, sufficient for a basic nuclear device. "

And now, half a year later, Iran announces the Fajr-3 with a range beyond 1250 miles. Is this the missile technology from Russia that Telegraph warned of? Iran at least would like us to think so.

But is it the real picture? Are we heading for war with Iran - as the US and UK military apparently and, it seems, with just cause prepare for preventive strikes?

However, there seems to be good reason to doubt the Iranian skills in the area. Maybe all the missiles were in fact delivered by the Russians as test missiles, maybe by the Chinese, - at least experts are cautious about the Iranian bragging.

Security Watchtower writes on the stealth thing:

"Uzi Rubin, an Israeli missile expert and former director of Israel’s Arrow missile defense program expressed doubts about the claim of the "new missile", saying "the description does not match the picture" shown on television. Rubin instead says the description of the new missile "fits almost word-for-word the way the Russians describe the Iskander-E (SS26), with one exception -- the Russians don’t claim the capability to ‘hit several targets’."

The same goes for the stealth submarine thing:

"The Iranian military did not name the "new" weapon or give its effective range, but again there are serious questions about whether Iran's $ 9 billion defense budget and defense industry could produce such a weapon indingenously. Like the doubts raised about Iran's development of an invisible missile with multiple warheads, this "new" torpedo is likely a Russian-made VA-111 Shkval, which travels at 230 mph, has a range of 7,500 yards and is primarily used in a defensive counter-attack role. China is believed to have purchased 40 of the torpedos from Russia during the 1990s, though this remains unconfirmed. In the event Russia did sell this high tech weaponry to Iran, and not just allow them to use one in a test, it would be alarming."

So what to make of it? Does Iran want to get bombed? Is it a way to raise the terror hell against the Western countries? Are we deluded by some cunning Iranian logic, closely linked to the logic of al Qaeda?

I don't know, - but I wouldn't take the chance.

If they have more than the one missile fired, and if they have nuclear capabilities, we end up with a new North Korea, - yet far more aggressive.

Arab papers have intensified their anti Semitism lately; Hamas is in control in the Palestine territory; the madmen in Teheran daily cry out their hate to the Jews and the state of Israel, - and - provided the double-if - they will be able to nuke them.

I wouldn't take the risk.

Want to read more? Check in on Security Watchtower. Check FAS for detailed coverage of the technical aspects of the missile programme . Check NIT for the history of Iran's missile ambitions.