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Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Threat from Iran

Iran is currently at work developing nuclear weapons, thinly disguised as "nuclear energy," as well as the ballistic missile systems to deliver them. So far, Iran possesses a mixed assortment of short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, but is also developing an intercontinental-range missile known as the Shahab-6, which will be able to strike as far as the United Kingdom. Iran's nuclear and missile programs have benefited from considerable foreign assistance, most notably from Russia, China, and North Korea. In addition to its development programs, Iran is an active proliferator of ballistic missile technology and expertise.
Nuclear and Missile Development Programs
Iran's nuclear capabilities are of special concern to the United States, ever since the 1979 founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which was fueled by embassy bombings, suicide attacks, kidnappings, and general anti-American sentiment. Over the years, the relationship between Iran and the United States has not improved, and Iran continues to threaten the United States and its allies. For these reasons, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran with long-range ballistic missiles is real, immediate, and frightening.
Iran's nuclear and missile ambitions have long been assisted largely by foreign nations, including Russia, China, and North Korea. Russia has played a key role in aiding in the production of Iran's "nuclear energy" and missile programs, including transfers of technology and expertise. In July 1998, the State Department imposed sanctions on seven Russian entities for "proliferation activities related to Iran's missile programs." Iran has also sought assistance from China and North Korea to acquire longer-ranged, more accurate ballistic missiles. In fact, many Chinese and North Korean missile development programs have been co-funded by Iran. In May 1996, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on entities in both North Korea and Iran for missile proliferation. In January 2005, the State Department sanctioned seven Chinese companies for proliferating ballistic missile materials to Iran.[1] Yet despite U.S. action, Iran has produced systems capable of striking Israel, major sections of Europe and Asia, and perhaps even the United States.[2]
Short-Range Ballistic Missiles
Iran's short-range missile arsenal includes 'Scud B' and 'Scud C' variants, M-9 and M-11 variants, the Fatah A-100, and the Zelzal. Iran's 'Scud' program dates back to 1980s, when the Iranian government is reported to have purchased North Korean 'Scud B' missiles. In 1988, Iran test launched its first ballistic missile, which was believed to have been a 'Scud B' variant with a range of 320 km and a payload of 985 kg, developed with the assistance of either North Korea or China. Iran is also believed to have manufactured a variant of the North Korean 'Scud C.'[3] In October 2004, it was reported that Iran had equipped a number of short- and medium-range Scud-type missiles to be ship-launched, and deployed them aboard cargo vessels. The ships are said to be stationed in the northern Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.[4]
Iran also possesses Chinese-made M-9 and M-11 SRBMs. The M-9 is the export version of the CSS-6 (DF-15), while the M-11 is export version of the CSS-7 (DF-11). The M-9 has a range of 600 km and is equipped with a single warhead that can either be nuclear, high explosive, chemical, EMP, or submunitions. Its tactical use is similar to that of the Iraqi 'Scuds' launched during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, namely the bombardment of civilian areas outside the range of traditional ordinance. The M-11 has a range of 400 km and carries an 800 kg warhead similar to the M-9. The M-11 was designed for deployment against large, fixed targets. Its range easily outdistances most conventional weapons, and its mobile launcher allows it to be deployed during a military conflict. While it is insufficiently accurate to target individual military units, the M-11 is able to attack small areas such as military bases, airfields, and cities.[5]
In addition, Iran has built the road-mobile, solid-propellant Fatah A-110, which was intended to replace its aging Scud systems. The program is based in Iran, although the missile is believed to incorporate components from Chinese contractors. The Fatah A-110 has a range of 210 km, although it is possible that Iran will add extra boosters in order to increase its range to 400 km. The missile carries a payload of some 500 kg and is most likely intended to deliver only high explosive, chemical, or submunitions warheads. The possibility remains, however, that Iran could deploy the Fatah A-110 with biological or nuclear warheads. Reports indicate that the missile entered low-rate production in October 2002 and it is now believed to be operational.[6]
There is also evidence that Iran has developed a new SRBM known as the Zelzal. However, little is known about these missiles. Sources estimate that its range varies from between 150 to 400 km and that it lacks a guidance system and therefore is useful only as an artillery system to bombard general areas or large targets. According to Israeli press reports in 2004, Iran recently supplied the militant Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah with up to 220 Zelzal missiles, which have been stored in bunkers in the Bekaa Valley.[7]
Medium- and Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles
Iran's medium- and intermediate-range arsenal includes Shahab-3, Shahab-4, and Shahab-5 missiles. The Shahab-class missiles are often described as defensive weapons to be used in the event of an Israeli attack. In August 2004, following a test of a Shahab-3, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Rahim Safavi, was quoted as saying that "If Israel loses its head and attacks Iranian interests, we will deliver a sledgehammer blow to break its bones." It is believed that the Shahab-class missiles are based on North Korean and Pakistani technology.[8]
The road-mobile, liquid-propellant Shahab-3 MRBM has a range of 1,200 km, which is sufficient to target Israel, Turkey, the Indian subcontinent, and U.S. forces stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf. It has a payload of 1,200 kg and is able to carry high explosives, chemical agents, or submunitions, although an unconfirmed Israeli report claims that a nuclear warhead is in development.[9] In recent years, reports have surfaced that Iran has developed a longer-range variant known as the Shahab-3A. This missile has an increased range of between 1,500 and 1,800 km with an improved guidance system that would probably increase the value of the Shahab-3A for use against military targets.[10]
The road-mobile, liquid-propellant Shahab-4 IRBM uses technology similar to the older Shahab-3, but has an increased range of 2,000 km and probably has an improved accuracy based on more modern digital guidance systems. Although the project is shrouded in secrecy, it is most likely an attempt to m`ke Iran's missile program less dependent upon foreign materials. If the Shahab-4's reported range of 2,000 km range is correct, the missile will have the capability to target all of Israel, as well as Turkey, much of India, parts of Germany and China, and the Persian Gulf. In addition, a Shahab-4 launched against the closest targets in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Israel will be able to impact with greater accuracy and at a higher speed, thus increasing the missile's effectiveness and ability to penetrate missile defenses.[11]
Unlike its predecessors, the Shahab-5 IRBM is believed to be based on the North Korean Taep'o-dong 2, which in turn is largely derived from Chinese technology. Some reports claim that the missile's range will be around 4,000 km, which places the Shahab-5 among the new class of longer-range missiles currently being produced by Iran in conjunction with North Korea. The main drawback of the Shahab-5 is its likely inaccuracy, which will restrict the missile's utility to attacking population centers or spreading radiation rather than hitting military targets. The Shahab-5 is thus probably more of a blackmail or terrorist weapon than a military asset.[12]
Long-Range Ballistic Missiles
Iran is currently developing the Shahab-6 ICBM, which is reported to have a range of 6,000 km. Similar to the Shahab-5, the Shahab-6 is based on technology from the North Korean Taep'o-dong 2. Featuring a two or three-stage liquid/solid fuel propulsion system, the missile uses most of the same components as the Shahab-5, but economies in weight and payload have increased its range. The missile is intended to carry one single warhead with a substantial yield, most likely in the area of 500-1,000 kg. Like the Shahab-5, the Shahab-6 is reported to be highly inaccurate, and therefore will be restricted to attacking population centers. Nevertheless, it will be capable of targeting most of Europe, Russia, and Asia. The United Kingdom, a staunch ally of the U.S., will be completely vulnerable to an attack, as would a number of other key U.S. allies. Moreover, many experts fear that Shahab-6 will be equipped with nuclear warheads.[13]
In addition to its development programs, Iran is a recurrent proliferator of ballistic missile technology and expertise. According to U.S. officials, Iran has been supplying North Korea with missile tests data, perhaps in exchange for nuclear technology, although Iran has denied this claim. Iran is also known to have been involved extensively in Libyan missile development program. Libya reportedly paid large amounts of money to buy Iranian missile technology. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that Iran exported 'Scud B' missiles to Congo and Sudan, and that Iran and Syria supported a missile manufacturing capability in Sudan.
However, the primary threat to the United States is that Iran will give or sell its Shahab missile technology to rogue nations or terrorist organizations antagonistic toward the West. Moreover, Iran's Shahab-3 missiles are stored and operated in underground sites under the complete control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which enjoys little outside supervision within Iran. As evidence that Shahab-3 technology might have already leaked out, in 1998 Pakistan demonstrated a flight test of a missile remarkably similar to the Shahab-3 and the North Korean No-dong 1.[14]

[1] The New York Times, 18 January 2005.
[2] Federation of American Scientists, "Iran: Overview," available at, accessed on 26 August 2005; The Wisconsin Project, "Iran: Ballistic Missile Update," available at, accessed on 26 August 2005.
[3] Duncan Lennox, ed., Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems 42 (Surrey: Jane's Information Group, January 2005), 122-123, 124-125; "North Korea Has Exported 400 Scud Missiles to Middle East," Agence France Presse, 23 October 2003.
[4] Middle East Newsline, 14 October 2004.
[5] Lennox (2005), 45-46, 47-48.
[6] Andrew Koch, Robin Hughes, and Alon Ben-David, "Tehran Altering Ballistic Missile," Jane's Defence Weekly, 8 December 2004; Andrew Koch and Steve Rodan, "Iran Tests Latest Ballistic Missiles," Jane's Defence Weekly, 18 September 2002; Duncan Lennox, "Short-Range Iranian Ballistic Missile on View," Jane's Defence Weekly, 5 February 2003; Lennox, 100-101.
[7] Lennox, 9; Doug Richardson, "Iran Tests Solid-Propellant Missile," Jane's Defence Weekly, 1 August 200; David C. Isby, "Iran Supplies Improved Rockets to Syria and Hizbullah," Jane's Missiles and Rockets, 1 October 2004.
[8] Paul Hughes, "Iran Tests Missile Capable of Hitting Israel," Reuters, 11 August 2004.
[9] Lennox (2005), 102-103.
[10] Koch, Hughes, and David, "Tehran Altering Ballistic Missile."
[11] Robin Hughes, "Iran Denies Shahab 4 Development," Jane's Defence Weekly, 12 November 2003; Doug Richardson, "Iran Is Developing an IRBM, Claims Resistance Group," Jane's Missiles and Rockets, 1 January 2005; Lennox (2005), 102-103; Koch, Hughes, and David, "Tehran Altering Ballistic Missile."
[12] Lennox, ed., Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems 41 (Surrey: Jane's Information Group, July 2004), 8-9; Lennox (2005), 102-103.
[13] Lennox (2004), 8-9; Lennox (2005), 42.
[14] Lennox (2005), 102-103.
Reposted By Nurkholis as reference of missile knowledge but however we must examine the fairness of this article as it tend to discriminate
the Iranian state.
Even that , we are to treat this article as sciencetific effort

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