Iran (and India) Test Ballistic Missiles, Israel Enters ‘Large-Scale Military Exercises’
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Wednesday that the country has tested a new modification of an advanced intermediate-range ballistic missile. (0:21):
Iran says its missile development programme is solely for defensive and scientific purposes, but critics say the rockets could one day be used to nuclear weapons, although Iran denies its nuclear programme has any military dimension.
The announcement of the launch came shortly after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was confirmed as one of the four candidates cleared to stand in Iran’s 12 June presidential elections.
He will run against two leading reformists – former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and ex-parliament speaker Mehdi Karoubi – and Mohsen Rezai, former chief of the Revolutionary Guards.
The EastWest Institute on Tuesday published a joint US-Russian assessment of the threat from Iranian nuclear weapons and missiles which concluded that Tehran would need at least six years to develop a nuclear warhead that could be placed on a missile.
A group of 12 prominent Russian and US scientists concluded that Iran would need six to eight years to develop a ballistic missile that could carry a 1,000kg payload 2,000km. The unprecedented study was commissioned as tensions between Washington and Moscow grew amid George W. Bush’s plan to install a missile defence shield in Europe. Retired General James Jones, now the US national security adviser, was one of the leading proponents of the study before he entered government. >>>
Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after that, a group of U.S. and Russian scientists and experts said in a report issued Tuesday.
They said Iran is also making advances in rocket technology and could develop a ballistic missile capable of firing a 1,000-kilogram (2,200-pound) nuclear warhead up to 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) in perhaps six to eight years.
The EastWest Institute, a nonpartisan organization which focuses on global challenges, said it brought six U.S. experts and six Russian experts together for the first time to produce a joint threat assessment on Iran’s nuclear and missile potential. It said key conclusions were presented in February to U.S. National Security Advisor, Gen. James Jones, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
The experts’ consensus report, issued by the institute, notes that Iran denies having a nuclear weapons program but says the government has not provided satisfactory answers to the questions raised about possible military dimensions of the program. “While Iran is continuing to enrich uranium,” it said, “it is not clear whether it has taken the decision to produce nuclear weapons.” >>>
Tel Aviv has embarked on another round of large-scale military exercise as speculations of an Israeli-initiated war run high.
Israel’s Air Force has begun a large-scale military exercise as right-wing parties are insisting on more militaristic approaches.
Israeli Air Force’s “aircraft activity will be noticeable during the course of the exercise as well as the presence of military vehicles across the country,” a military spokesman was quoted by AFP as saying on Monday.
The four-day exercise will end on Thursday with military sources saying the move was aimed at testing the Air Force’s abilities against rocket attacks and infiltration attempts.
The military stages the exercise shortly after the Lebanese security forces disbanded several Israeli spy rings in the country.
Lebanese sources say the counterespionage operation which is still underway could change the balance of power against Israel.
Israel has twice invaded Lebanon and is reportedly mulling over another attack on the country. In addition, Israel has in recent years repeatedly hinted that it would launch an offensive against Iran.
Tel Aviv accuses Tehran of pursuing Atomic bombs trough its nuclear energy program, threatening to target Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities. The Islamic Republic, however, maintains that its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.
The presence of a hawkish government in Israel along with stepped-up military exercised prompted Washington to warn Tel Aviv against starting a war with Iran.
The speculations of a military strike was so strong that The United States sent its spy chief and CIA director, Leon Panetta, on a secret mission to Israel in early May to warn its leaders against launching a surprise attack on Iran.
The threat posed by Iran is little understood in U.S. circles, says a new report from a U.S. research institution which asserts that the expansionist rhetoric of the Islamic Republic is little more than that: rhetoric.
“U.S. strategy must recognize Iran’s role as an influential, but not omnipotent, player in the Middle East and work to exploit existing barriers to Iran’s harmful activities, while simultaneously seeking areas of engagement,” says a release on the report from the Rand Corporation.
RAND, a non-profit research group, released the report Tuesday after a meeting between U.S. and Israeli leaders where Iran was discussed at length in the public part – and one must assume, private parts as well – of the talks.
It also came just as Iran’s state news agency announced the successful test launch of a surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 1,900 kilometres – in other words, capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the region.
The 230-page report, “Dangerous But Not Omnipotent: Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East”, was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force in order to “accurately gauge the strategic challenges from Iran over a ten- to fifteen-year horizon.” The report seeks to “assess the motivations of the Islamic Republic, not just its capabilities.”
The report concludes “that analogies to the Cold War are mistaken” because Iran does not have the same ideal of exporting their revolution as the Soviet Union despite the fact that they use rhetoric to that effect. Nor does Iran, says the report, desire “territorial aggrandizement”.
As a result, says RAND, “Traditional containment options may actually create further opportunities for Tehran to exploit, thereby amplifying the very influence the United States is trying to mitigate.” >>>
New Delhi’s armed forces have test-fired a long-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile while a defense official calls the test successful.
The army on Tuesday tested the surface-to-surface Agni II missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets around 2,000 km (1,200 miles) away.
The missile range can be increased to 3000 km (1,900 miles) by reducing the load, sources said.
New Delhi’s Defense ministry described the Tuesday launch as successful.
“It was a routine user trial carried out by the army which went off well,” Defense Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.
India and Pakistan have occasionally tested conventional and unconventional weapons since their independence from Britain in 1947.
Both neighbors have refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other treaties that restrict developing or testing nuclear weapons.
New Delhi says it was unfair that international treaties only allowed United States, China, Russia, Britain and France to maintain the ultra-destructive weapons.
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- Israel Prepares for War With Iran Next Year, Study Exposes Fallacy of Iran Threat (12 May 09)