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Iran’s target practice

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Wall Street Journal – REVIEW & OUTLOOK: Iran continues to claim it has a “right” to its uranium-enrichment program. But one clue that the ruling mullahs have something other than peaceful nuclear energy in mind is the huge investment they’re making in ballistic-missile technology, which is far from the most efficient means of delivering a non-nuclear explosive payload. The Wall Street Journal

REVIEW & OUTLOOK
November 8, 2006; Page A22

Iran continues to claim it has a “right” to its uranium-enrichment program. But one clue that the ruling mullahs have something other than peaceful nuclear energy in mind is the huge investment they’re making in ballistic-missile technology, which is far from the most efficient means of delivering a non-nuclear explosive payload. Just last week, Iran test-fired dozens of Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 missiles, which have ranges up to about 2,000 kilometers.

We thought readers might be interested in seeing the large swath of Middle Eastern, South Asian and Eastern European real estate already within range of these Iranian missiles, so we offer the map nearby. Among the potential targets are India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Turkey. The missiles can also hit southern Russia, which seems less concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions than about blocking any serious U.N. response. And of course the missiles pose a direct threat to the many U.S. bases and troop deployments in the region, especially in Iraq.

This threat is being talked up by the Iranians themselves. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi told Iran’s Al-Alam TV on Sunday that he did not anticipate any U.S. interference in his country’s nuclear program because “they know that Iran has missiles with the range of 2000 km which will put their interests in danger.” In the same interview, he also boasted of having thousands of operatives trained for suicide operations and said Iran might be willing to give its missiles to “friendly” countries. “We have military weapons which we have not shown off, but we will do in the next maneuvers,” Mr. Safavi said.

We’re surprised that more Western Europeans, who will soon be within range of Iranian missiles, don’t seem worried about this threat. But let’s hope at least President Bush and the next U.S. Congress can make stopping Iran’s bomb and missile programs a bipartisan project.

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