The Iranian Missile Threat

by Jerry Gordon (August 2011)

’s Missile Range Map 2009

In October, 1962, I was a young Army officer going through basic infantry officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia, prior to eventual intelligence training at the former US Army Intelligence Training Center located at Fort Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland. The US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) subsequently moved its INSCOM training center to Fort Huachuca in Arizona.  

The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis disrupted my initial training. It was the most harrowing experience for me, members of my officers training company and hundreds of millions of Americans glued to their TV sets wondering whether a nuclear shaped cloud might appear at any moment in their vicinity. In my case, it meant possibly being deployed to become part of an invasion force being mobilized at conclusion of basic Infantry training. Soviet bombers, Medium and Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs) equipped with nuclear warheads had ranges that covered most of the continental US. These weapons had been secreted into Castro’s Cuba by ship from ports in the USSR on orders of Premier Nikita Khrushchev. These Russian supply vessels had been shadowed by US surface ships and submarines. U-2s and other low level aircraft photographed the full length of Cuba and uncovered evidence of Soviet missile base and SAM defense construction. A U-2 piloted by USAF Major Rudolph Anderson, Jr. was shot down by a Soviet SAM -2 that nearly triggered an invasion of Cuba and possible nuclear attack on the US. 

Later in my intelligence career I would view some of the U-2 imagery and work on updating some of the intelligence files for a Joint Task Force plan for a possible invasion of Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis climaxed in a nerve wracking confrontation at the UN General Assembly between the late Adlai Stevenson, US UN ambassador at the time, and then Soviet UN Ambassador Valerian Zorin. Stevenson, equipped with aerial pictures of Soviet-supplied missiles, demanded an answer from stoic Ambassador Zorin to the question: are these offensive weapons? We found out much later Cuban Premier Castro had actually demanded that Premier Krushschev fire Soviet supplied missiles at the US during the height of the crisis. That unnerved Krushschev forcing him to re-evaluate the strategy leading ultimately to the deal struck with President Kennedy. Kennedy increased pressure on the Soviet leader to retreat from this dangerous confrontation via a Naval Blockade of Cuba to hail, stop and search Soviet supply vessels with missile and aircraft cargoes. But, it also meant that a Communist totalitarian dictator in our Western Hemisphere could have had his finger on the nuclear missile trigger. Over 100 million Americans were within the 2,800 mile striking range of Soviet-supplied batteries of R-14 IRBMs equipped with thermo-nuclear warheads. The Missiles of October crisis was a close run thing. The troubling episode ended with a secret deal to exchange aging Jupiter missiles based in Turkey, a NATO ally, for withdrawal of Soviet nuclear missiles. It also developed into the Mutual Assured Destruction deterrent doctrine that prevailed during the remainder of the Cold War era. This arrangement included the direct communication link between the White House and the Kremlin and ultimately led to the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties between US and Russia. It also contributed to the Soviet Cominterm removal of Premier Krushschev, but not the fall of Cuban dictator Castro.

U2 Photo Soviet IRBM site Cuba October 1962 

Adlai Stevenson with U-2 Photos at UN

The Rising Iranian Nuclear Missile Threat

Fast forward by nearly five decades. Israel, the EU and America are threatened by another nuclear missile contest. This time with an unrelenting Islamic totalitarian regime in Tehran that has shaken the Middle East region and the West with increasing evidence, that Iran has successfully tested nuclear capable missiles. Moreover, Iran has apparently begun assembly of its first nuclear weapons. Recently, it was reported that Iran was within seven weeks of assembling its first nuclear bomb in August, 2011. According to the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control Iran may have 4,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium enough to make four nuclear devices. Like the Cuban Missile crisis, Iran has developed a family of missiles that have payload lifting capacity for nuclear bombs. Those missiles could range throughout the Middle East into Southeastern and Central Europe. Moreover, Iran’s  longer range missiles can range as far as London, Paris and Berlin in Western Europe. There are further indications that the Revolutionary Guards may have plans of developing ICBMs that might range as far as the east Coast of the US. There is concern that Iran might position missiles in Hugo Chavez’s totalitarian Socialist regime in Venezuela, a scenario not unlike the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. Given the apocalyptic Mahdist Shia doctrine in Iran, these recent missile developments and tests can no longer be ignored. 

In late June, 2010, the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, told Parliament that:

Iran has been carrying out covert ballistic missile tests and rocket launches including testing missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload.

He told parliament the tests were in clear contravention of UN resolution 1929 that sanctioned such developments by Iran.

This announcement came in the midst of a 10-Day Iranian military exercise that saw the launch of multiple missiles and a new anti-ship stealth missile – “a ‘game changer.” At the conclusion of this exercise Iran announced that earlier this year it launched long range missiles with a range of 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles into the Indian Ocean, monitored by US naval forces in the vicinity. Those tests represent a clear threat to Israel and US assets in the Middle East.

In mid-July, 2011, Robert Baer, ex-CIA covert ops officer, author of books  promoting his experience and Middle East expertise, opined in a Los Angeles KPFK Pacifica radio interview with Ian Matthews of “Background Briefing’ that Israel might be gearing up for a possible attack in September on Iran’s nuclear weapons development facilities. Pacifica radio is notoriously, anti-Israel. Baer speculated during the Matthews interview that primary targets might include the Natanz facility engaged in enriching uranium with its more than 8,000 whirling centrifuges. Allegedly, according to Baer, the US Joint Chiefs have issued possible war warnings to the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and what remains of our forces in Iraq. “Cowboy,” also an ex-CIA covert officer believes that Baer is not to be trusted. He noted:

Indeed…Mr. Syriana himself. [The film is based on his book See No Evil]. Baer is anti-Israeli, pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian and pro-Saudi…i.e. pro-Muslim. He speaks Arab and thinks we should all get rid of our SUVs.

Recall, this is the “ex-CIA officer” who wrote in his last book that the U.S. should “allow” Iran to take over the Saudi oil fields as well as Mecca and Medina…and that we should “ensure” that “when Lebanon in dismembered,” Iran is part of the process.

Baer’s on–air comments with Matthews created such a storm of criticism that he was forced to issue a ‘mea culpa’ for Time: “Former CIA Man: Don't Bet on Israel Bombing Iran on My Speculation!” New English Review colleague, Hugh Fitzgerald characterized it as: “Embarrassed And Chagrinned By His On-The-Air Lightheadedness, Robert Baer Tries To Backtrack.” Baer in his interview response to Matthews commented in Time that:

[Matthews] was struck by the comments of recently retired Mossad chief Meir Dagan, saying that an increasingly paranoid and isolated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was considering launching a reckless attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, and doing that soon. Would an Israeli strike put a spike in the Arab spring? That was unknowable, I said, but the resulting crisis would certainly give repressive regimes the excuse to crack down a lot harder on the street. (See “The Worm in Iran's Nuke Program: Made in Israel?”)

Retired Israeli Mossad director Meir Dagan in a May, 2011 Jerusalem Post interview, issued a warning that such an attack scenario was ‘foolish’ and would only result in unleashing missile attacks. Earlier, Dagan had said that Iran would not achieve nuclear capabilities until 2015. In the wake of recent intelligence reports that seemed “optimistic.” Missile attacks from Iran and nearby proxies like Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, stocked with tens of thousands of short range missiles and rockets would fully cover all of the Jewish State of Israel.

Such war warnings are entirely speculative. We have written that Israel has a full quiver of options. These include its own nuclear capable missile the Jericho III, cruise missiles launched from its Dolphin submarine fleet, and cyber warfare techniques like Stuxnet that have disabled Iran’s nuclear development infrastructure.  Conventional air attack scenarios that would endeavor to reduce the Natanz and other nuclear underground facilities would be fraught with complex air route and logistical problems. Obtaining Saudi, Iraqi and even Turkish airspace permission would be doubtful. For one thing the US Iraqi Status of Forces agreement  precludes such authorities. Nevertheless, Israel could be subject to an onslaught of the combined Iranian and proxies’ missile counterstrikes should a nuclear facilities attack scenario of the type that Baer speculates occur.

If that rain of Iranian and proxy missiles and rockets occurred, Israel is prepared with an interlocking system of anti-missile and short range rocket defense, capped by the Arrow Missile Defense system, a co-development of Israel and the US. Supporting that are the early-warning Green Pine Tree fire control radar and Citron Tree battle management systems, as well as Israel’s own spy in the sky, the Ofek 9 satellite.

Enter Israeli Missile Defense Expert, Uzi Rubin.

One person who knows the Iranian missile threat intimately is Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s Missile Development program.  The Israel Project noted his considerable background in a recent interview with journalists, including the author:

Uzi Rubin founded and was the first director of the Israel Missile Defense organization in the Israel Ministry of Defense. He launched and managed the nationwide effort to develop, produce and deploy Israel’s Arrow missile defense system co-developed with Boeing Aerospace. He led this program from its inception in 1991 to the first delivery of operational missiles in 1999.

Rubin received his Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1969, and directed several missile programs in Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israel Ministry of Defense. In 1990, he was a visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for International Security and Arms Control, where he co-directed a major study on missile proliferation.

Between 1999 and 2001, he was the Senior Director for Proliferation and Technology in the Israel National Security Council. He has twice won the Israel Defense Prize in 1996 and 2003. Uzi Rubin retired from Israel’s Ministry of Defense at the end of 2002. He has since been heading his own defense consultancy, Rubincon, providing consulting services in military technology to the Israel Ministry of Defense and Israel's leading defense contractors. He publishes frequently in professional and international media on space and missile defense topics.

Rubin has been a frequent expert at US forums on missile defense on Capitol Hill. These breakfast seminars were jointly sponsored by the National Defense University Foundation (NDUF) and the National Defense Industries Association (NDIA). Peter Huessy, founder and long term director of the Capitol Hill Congressional Breakfast seminars, holds Rubin in high regard, as do others in the US missile defense community. Huessy noted this about Rubin, a presenter at a mid-June 2011 Capitol Hill Forum:

Our event with Uzi was attended by over 100 people and came four days before the British disclosed the unannounced Iranian missile tests. Uzi has been an annual guest at my seminar series since 1993 and he has been proven correct repeatedly. In May of 2009 an East West Institute (EWI) report claimed Iran had no staging capability nor could they build solid fueled rocket engines. Four days after the EWI report, the Iranians launched just such a rocket, disclosed by Uzi at my seminar series within 24 hours of the Iranian tests–talk about real time intelligence. columnist Kenneth Timmerman covered one of the Rubin presentations at the Capitol Hill Congressional breakfast seminars in mid-June. He wrote of Rubin’s startling revelations about Iranian missile developments and threats. Timmerman noted in his article, “Iran Makes Giant Strides in Missile Programs”:

Iran has made dramatic progress in its ballistic missile programs over the past year, unveiling three new missiles it claims are already in production, including an innovative design that could be a “game-changer” if used against U.S. aircraft carriers, an Israeli expert widely considered one of the world’s top authorities on Iranian missile programs says.

Also significant were three unannounced tests of longer-range missiles most experts believe were designed to carry a nuclear warhead.


Iranian Shahab -3 Missile launch                     Iranian Sejil Missile on Assembly dolly
Approximately 2,000 LM range                     Approximately 2,000 to 2,600 KM range

Referring to Iran’s unannounced test of Shahab -3 rockets, Rubin noted it flaunted UN Sanctions against testing of nuclear capable weapons:

Because the missile has been tested successfully so many times, Rubin believes failure was not why the longer-range missile tests were kept quiet. “I believe it was policy.”
The latest United Nations Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, which passed in June 2010, expressly forbids Iran from conducting tests of “nuclear-capable” missiles.

“The fact that Iran did not disclose those tests is tantamount to admitting they were of nuclear-capable missiles,” Rubin said.

In October 2010, Iran carried out an unannounced test of its Sejil-2 missile, sometimes known as the “Ashura.” The Sejil is a solid propellant missile with a range of approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) that was first flown successfully in November 2008.

“Experts note that Iran is the only country to have developed a missile with Sejil’s capability, in terms of range and payload, without first having developed a nuclear weapon,” a United Nations panel of experts concluded in a groundbreaking May, 2011 report that has been leaked to the press after at least one — and possibly two — Security Council members sought to suppress it.

                       [. . .]

“Both the modified Shahab-3 and Sejil-2 are believed to be nuclear-capable ballistic missiles,” the U.N. experts’ report said.

The Shahab-3 is a liquid-fueled missile based on the North Korean Taepodong series and uses rocket motors some experts believe were imported from former Soviet-era SS-5 nuclear missiles. It reportedly has a range of approximately 900 kilometers, bringing northern Israel into Iran’s range.

An upgraded version, known as the Ghadr, can reach targets up to 1600 km distant from the launch point, the U.N. panel said.

For Israeli expert Uzi Rubin, the rapid-fire pace of the tests, and the fact that the two missiles are based on dramatically different technologies and propulsion systems, “shows the urgency of the test program and the expansion of their infrastructure and human resources.”

Carrying out three tests in just five months, with two different missile systems tested in the same month, “is a remarkable achievement,” Rubin added.

Another remarkable achievement according to Rubin at the NDUF-NDIA forum was a “game changer” anti-ship missile clearly aimed at the US Fifth Fleet based at Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.  Note what Timmerman reports:

Khalije Fars (“Persian Gulf”), an anti-ship ballistic missile that reportedly can hit naval targets up to 350 kilometers away from its launch point. Like the Fateh-110 shorter-range rocket from which it was developed, Khalije Fars uses solid propellant, making it easy to store and hard to detect before launch, unlike liquid fuel rockets that often need hours to be fueled. Some reports show this missile uses tracking information provided by an airborne surveillance aircraft so it can hit maneuvering targets such as aircraft carriers, a capability the Chinese successfully demonstrated in 2009 using a Shanxii Y07 (Antonov 12) aircraft equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar.

In a recent Jerusalem Post article, on Iranian missile developments and tests of anti-Ship ballistic missiles, Rubin, commented: 

Iran outdoes N. Korea's long-range missile development.

[. . .]

This is a direct threat on the US Navy along Iran’s coast.

[. . .]

The Iranians took a Fateh-110 rocket, which is also in Hezbollah hands, installed on it a guidance system and turned it into an anti-ship missile.

[. . .]

The Iranian missile program is running ahead and the moment they have a nuclear weapon, they will have the means to launch it,

Watch this You Tube video of the Iranian Defense Ministry successful test of the new “Persian Gulf” anti-ship stealth missile.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Rubin will present at the Second Annual Multinational Conference on Missile Defense in Tel Aviv in late July, 2011 along with officials of US Department of State Space and Defense Policy, the Pentagon Missile Defense Agency and the Czech Defense Ministry.

Who is supplying some of the critical ingredients for Iran’s solid fuel rocket missiles? The answer is China. Note the evidence Timmerman cites:

According to the U.N. experts’ report, U.N. member states believe that “Iran is self-sufficient in the production of solid propellant fuel, though as evidenced in a reported case involving the procurement of aluminum powder; it relies on foreign suppliers for some key materials.”

The U.N. panel traveled to Singapore earlier this year, where the local customs authorities briefed panel members on the seizure of 18 tons of aluminum powder sold by a Chinese company to Iran.

“This quantity of aluminum powder would yield approximately 100 tons of rocket propellant, or enough for the production of approximately 50 systems,” the U.N. panel concluded.

Both China and Russia are believed to have intervened with the U.N. Security Council to suppress the report by the U.N. experts’ panel investigating violations of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran.

The Israel Project Interview with Uzi Rubin

Iranian MB-25 acquired from North Korea with 3,500 KM range

How dangerous is the Iranian missile threat beyond the Middle East? The answer is revealed in a series of responses by Uzi Rubin during a recent interview conducted by Eitan Livne, Director of Iran Research and Content for The Israel Project. You may listen to a recording of the conference call, here.

Note what Rubin says regarding the range and capabilities of Iran’s long range missiles; the solid-fuel Shejil-2  and the BM-25 that the New York Times reported may have been sold to the Iranians by the North Koreans:

I just want to make it more tangible to the audience by pointing out that at 2,200 kilometers [the estimated range of the Shejil-2], it will take a missile from Tabriz, where the silos are, almost to Belgrade in Serbia. If the range is 2,400 kilometers, that threatens the suburbs of Warsaw, Poland, from Tabriz; 2,600 kilometers will take you all the way from Tabriz to Riga, Latvia. Just to put things in perspective, Moscow is less than 2,000 kilometers from Iran. So the few variations, 200 kilometers here and 200 kilometers there make a tremendous difference.

I’m convinced that the Iranians have the BM- 25 missile, which was finally revealed by North Korea in October of last year.  It was paraded, and the missile that was depicted is an improvement of an old Soviet design. The range could be at least 3,500 kilometers. It can go all the way from Tabriz to London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and other major cities in Western Europe.

Rubin cites the graphic threat to targets in Europe within range of the missile silos of Tabriz using conventional warheads; reminiscent of the V-2 terror rocket attacks on Great Britain and Allied Europe during WWII.

If you make enough of them, then just think about the shower of 10 or 12 one-ton warheads falling on a city like Paris in the middle of a business day although they are not equipped with nuclear warheads yet.  Even with conventional warheads, think about 10 or 12 one-ton charges exploding in a busy city in daytime. The number of casualties would be frightening and wreak enough destruction without nuclear warheads.

Rubin goes on to estimate the inventory of the large and growing Iranian long range missile threat.

I think it is a viable threat. The numbers now are large and growing. From the WikiLeaks we learned that former Israeli Chief of Staff, General Ashkenazi, disclosed to Members of Congress about two years ago that the Iranians had at that time 300 Shahab-3 missiles already stockpiled. So with that rate of production, who knows how many they have now? It seems that we are talking about hundreds if not thousands of powerful missiles. I think the threat to Europe is real and frightening.

As regards the Obama Administration offer of the so-called European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) Missile Defense System for these European targets of Iran’s long range missiles, Rubin notes:

The EPAA, Phase 1-2011, Phase 2-2015 and Phase 3-2018 are designed against Iranian rockets that can threaten European cities. I think that the response Americans are offering is adequate. Phase 4 is designed to defend both Europe and the US from Europe and it involves a controversial missile because the Russians feel that they are threatened by it.  It’s a political problem, but this affects less the defense of Europe.   I think the EPAA will do a good job in defending Europe.

When queried by Livne about possible Iranian development of ICBMs Rubin cites respected Russian missile expert Yuri Solomonov of The Thermal Engineering Institute:

There is no direct evidence of Iranian ICBM development.  Of course, they wouldn’t admit that; on the contrary, the Iranians are saying, time after time, we are not threatening Europe. They repeat it ad nauseam . . . we are not threatening Europe; we are not threatening the United States.

[. . .]

Yuri Solomonov is the chief engineer of the Moscow-based Thermal Engineering Institute, the organization that is in charge of making Russia’s ICBMs, both sea-based and land-based. He said in a statement on July 6th both Iran and North Korea could create 10,000-kilometer ICBMs.  They just need to have the will and the money to fund it, and eventually they’ll get there. They will be adequate to do the job.

In response to a question from Livne on Iran building missile bases in Venezuela under Chavez, Rubin speculates that may be a distinct possibility:

They are doing some collaboration on the missiles between Venezuela and Iran. Let me say this:  It makes sense. Chavez is very adversarial towards his neighbors and the United States. I’m sure the Venezuelans remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. To repeat this experience would not be very appealing, perhaps even to Chavez. I wouldn’t be surprised if he would really go at it and set up a missile base of Iranian missiles in Venezuela. That may be of interest in the Caribbean or even perhaps threatening the US itself eventually.  

Syrian, Hezbollah and Hamas Missile and Rocket Threats

SCUD B Mobile Missile 320 -700 KM range       

The TIP interview with Rubin then addressed the missile and rocket threats to Israel beginning with Syria, which has a vast bio-chemical warfare establishment revealed in a December, 2007 NER interview with expert, Dr. Jill Dekker. Syria’s rocket and missile threat is significant but virtually undeclared, unlike the Iranians. Syria has supplied Hezbollah with hundreds of the M-600 short range missile developed in cooperation with Iran. Rubin responded authoritatively:

The Syrians don’t publicly admit that there are any missile developments. However they inadvertently admitted they had missiles, when their missiles went haywire and hit Turkish territory by mistake, they apologized. Otherwise, they don’t admit, they don’t disclose, they don’t show pictures.

Syria has a very vast missile capability and stockpile. Actually, they started stockpiling missiles even before Iran. In 1982 they made it a Syrian national defense priority and made a decision to forego air power and build up the missile power against Israel. By now they have hundreds of SCUDS with ranges up to 700 kilometers – some of them equipped with chemical warheads – all operational, ready for use, well-established in survivable bases in mountains tunnels. And that’s just one part of their rocket capability.

The other part of Syria’s program is a huge arsenal of rockets, heavy rockets and light rockets.  Thanks to their defense pact with Iran, they are enjoying Iranian support and building their own R&D capability, whose first achievement was the perfection of guided heavy rocket. 

We call it M600 which means Missile 600 – that could threaten almost the entire territory of Israel.  

On Hezbollah, Rubin notes the obvious; tens of thousands of rockets, Syrian M-600 and SCUD missiles-all directed at Israel from Lebanon:

The main armament of Hezbollah is rockets. They don’t have a land army, equipped with main battlefield weapons like tanks or aircraft. They have a semi-guerilla kind of army. Hezbollah forces are equipped mostly with rockets, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles. They have an arsenal of about 45,000 to 50,000 rockets, according to General Yadlin Israeli retiring chief of intelligence, in his statement issued a few days ago.  

Hezbollah has UAVs, some for reconnaissance which they overflew Israel before the Second Lebanon War in 2006. They tried using suicide UAVs during the 2006 fighting. That attempt was foiled by the IDF that managed to shoot down most of them. They are reported to have acquired or have access to Syrian supplied SCUD B or D ballistic missiles whose range covers the entire of Israel, all the way to Eilat.  If that is true, it means that they can cover all of Israel, even the desert areas.  

About Hamas and its rocket capabilities, Rubin noted:

Hamas’ military capability is about 5,000 rockets of all kinds.  Up to now, they relied mainly on Kassem rockets, made locally in the kitchens and workshops of Gaza.  But those are small rockets with very small warheads.  Now, they have rockets which are called Katyushas or GRADS with bigger warheads and longer ranges.   The heavier GRAD rockets in the Hamas arsenal can reach all the way to Tel Aviv.      

Israel’s Anti-Missile Defense System

Arrow Anti-Missile System Joint Israeli-US Development Program

Livne then turned to the subject of how Israel defends itself against the long range Iranian missile threat, the shorter range missile and rocket threats from Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas using the Arrow Anti-Missile System, Iron Dome and David’s Sling– the latter, a co-development of Israel’s Rafael, Ltd. and Raytheon in the US.

Watch this US Missile Defense Agency You Tube video of the successful intercept of a missile by the Arrow Anti-Missile at the US Naval Air Station at Point Magu, California in February, 2011.

As the Missile Defense Agency explains:

In the late ’80s, we started cooperating with the US in missile defense and our first missile defense program, the Arrow, was launched with feasibility study in 1988, and full program, 1991.  I had the honor of directing this program for the first decade.  

The Arrow-2 Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system is fully established. It has been fully deployed since 2000, and is fully operational being upgraded all the time. The threat has been evolving; at that time we were not aware that hostile countries have really changed their military doctrine.  We had been expecting more investment in modern tanks and aircraft.  Now, they have shifted their investment to asymmetric type of warfare, and are building missile power instead of air power.

So the missile threat has become one of the main threats. It became more complex, more numerous, and at longer distances.

As a result of this shift to asymmetrical warfare, Israel is now planning to deploy a four-tiered missile shield. The backbone is the Arrow-2, but with one tier above it and two tiers below it. 

 The uppermost tier is based on Arrow-3, a brand new missile [fully funded by the US and developed by Israel Aircraft Industries, Ltd.].  It will do the first intercept of any incoming long-range missile.

Missiles not intercepted by the Arrow-3 would be hit by the Arrow-2. Anything that the Arrow-2 misses will be hit by the next two tiers, based on a new system called David’s Sling. David’s Sling is being developed jointly with the US, would intercept the remainder. This is optimized as the third tier and independently against heavy rockets like the M-600 as well as cruise missiles. The Iranians are developing a capability for long-range cruise missiles. That is the next threat.

 The lowest tier will consist of the Iron Dome short-range missile system which has been optimized against light rockets such as the Katyushas but has a growth potential.

The Iron Dome system was developed very successfully in record time – less than three years.  Two batteries were delivered to the Israeli Air Defense Command and used against the April outburst of rocket fire from Gaza. They shot down an overwhelming majority of the incoming missiles. 

All this will be integrated by joint command and control system. This is partly Arrow-2, Arrow-3 and David’s Sling that are jointly funded by U.S. and Israel.  The manufacturer of the Iron Dome system has just won a procurement contract of $205 million from the US government.

Watch this Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs interview with Uzi Rubin about the protection afforded Israel by Iron Dome anti-Short Range Missile and Rocket system, successfully deployed in April, 2011.

Iran’s Space Program Contributions to its ICBM Development

Earlier, we noted Rubin’s responses to questions about Iran’s ICBM program. Livne of TIP followed that up with a question about the contributions of the Iran’s space program to long range ICBMs.  Rubin answered:

Those programs are connected because both of them were funded and managed by the Iranian Ministry of Defense, regardless of the allegedly civilian space program. All of the engineering production is done by the same concern, the Iranian aerospace industry. They share the same management at the top and share the same infrastructure at the bottom. There is an active exchange of information and contributions from the space program to the missile program which are invaluable.

You learn about long-range testing when you conduct global satellite launches. You have to have global capability of acquiring data from your launcher and from your satellite. You also would benefit from information on staging separation in flight. That is of direct help to advancement of long-range ICBM missile development.

Neither the current Iranian satellite launcher, the Safir, which has been used to launch two satellites, and the Simorgh, the heavier 80-ton satellite launcher are ballistic missiles.  However these space program developments are providing valuable lessons for the Iranian ballistic missile development program.

Iran’s Dependence on Missile Technology Transfer from Russia, North Korean, China and the US

Notwithstanding, Iran’s own impressive missile technology developments, it still follows an aggressive strategy of overt and clandestine technology transfer. We have seen evidence of that in supplies of Russian rocket engines, purchase of North Korean Taepodong liquid fueled and modified BM-25 solid fuel rockets with increased ranges and payloads capable of hitting targets in The Middle East and Europe. We have also witnessed from UN inspector reports evidence of Chinese supply of aluminum powder for solid fuel propellants. Timmerman’s article also points out objections to these UN disclosures by two members of the Security Council: Russia and China. However, they are not alone; the US under the Obama Administration may be facilitating technology transfer for Iran’s ballistic missile program by issuing visas to Iranian engineers and scientists to attend scientific programs here in the US. There are suspicions that this may be part of a conscientious program of disinformation by the Islamic regime, while acquiring useful leading edge technology developments. Senior State Department Arms Control officials and CIA missile intelligence analysts (see the May 2009 NIE assessment) have issued negative assessments of Iran’s missile development progress. These assessments indicated that the Iranian ICBMs wouldn’t be developed until the period from 2015 to 2020. Moreover these critics suggested that Iran’s missiles could only reach targets as far West as Southeastern Europe. Implicit in those assessments is denial of the informed opinions of experts like Uzi Rubin, Michael Elleman of the UK–based International Institute for Strategic Studies and Russia’s Yuri Solomonov of the Thermal Engineering Institute. Fred Fleitz, a 25 year veteran analyst at the CIA, DIA, State department and U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee staff member noted the danger of denial of the Iran nuclear threat in a Wall Street Journal op-ed,

It is unacceptable that Iran is on the brink of testing a nuclear weapon while our intelligence analysts continue to deny that an Iranian nuclear weapons programs program exists. One can’t underestimate the dangers posed to our country by a US intelligence community that is unable to provide timely and objective analysis of such major threats to US national security-or to make appropriate adjustments when it is proven wrong.

In response to a question on this issue from Livne, Rubin said:

I’d say they’re still dependent on talent from abroad. However, the dependence shifted from complete technologies, complete factories to components and materials. Wikileaks revealed from U.S. diplomatic correspondence attempts of the United States to block purchase of crucial materials in China, one of them, quite surprisingly was carbon fiber used for making advanced rocket motors.

There was a reference not long ago about a shipment of tungsten copper bars caught in a Persian Gulf port destined for Iran; material used for making the control system for ballistic missiles. In the report that the British foreign secretary was alluding to, there was another mention of an instance of a shipment of material that was caught in Italy on its way to Iran that you pour into a rocket motor for either heavy rockets or ballistic missiles.

About six years ago a report of five intelligence agencies of Western European countries revealed that there were at least one hundred cases of Iranian attempts to acquire strategic missile technologies and materials in Europe. 

[. . .]

There is, continued inadvertent US support to this technology transfer, although the US has imposed sanctions on Iran. 

 I believe the US government may still allow Iranian students to attend US technological institutions and acquire knowledge that facilitates technology transfer.  

Even more amazing, the US government allows Iranian scientists to come and present technical papers on missiles at conferences here. I have some copies of that material obtained in 2007, when Iranian scientists spoke of missile technology at a conference in Cincinnati. My friends in America have no explanation why that occurred or continues.

It is apparent from this review of the Iranian missile threats from articles and interviews with Israeli expert Uzi Rubin that the Iranian ballistic missile program has accelerated. The US has faltered in endeavoring to stop Iran’s rapidly progressing missile capability that threatens NATO allies in Europe, Israel and other allies in the Middle East. Ultimately, the US may also be at risk from an ICBM Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack launched from possible missile bases in the Western Hemisphere reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The prospect of that given the findings of the Congressional Study Commission on the EMP threat would be as frightening as what many of us thought possible during the October 1962 missile crisis. An Iranian EMP missile attack would destroy the US economy and electrical infrastructure plunging this country back to a pre-industrial era with tens of millions of attendant deaths. Another horrific scenario cited by Rubin is a rocket launched from a freighter offshore, where specific attribution would be extremely difficult, aimed at a major east coast city with a Hiroshima type airburst incinerating the inhabitants below. We note that Iran completed successful test launches of a modified SCUD missile from a ship in the Caspian Sea. According to Kenneth Timmerman in a article “US Intel: Iran Plans Nuclear Strike on US”, that clearly upset former White House Science Adviser William Graham of the Claremont Institute in testimony before the US House Armed Services committee in 2008. That may be the chaos and apocalyptic vision that the Ayatollahs in Tehran are seeking in their nuclear and missile programs to achieve their totalitarian objective of Islamic global hegemony.


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