Terrorism IAF chief: Iran seeking nuclear warheads

IAF chief: Iran seeking nuclear warheads

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AP & JERUSALEM POST: Iran plans to arm its missiles with nuclear warheads, according to Israel Airforce chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi. Shkedi told Army Radio that not just Israel is threatened but the entire world. Associated Press & THE JERUSALEM POST

Iran plans to arm its missiles with nuclear warheads, according to Israel Airforce chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi. Shkedi told Army Radio that not just Israel is threatened but the entire world.

“The Iranian threat is comprised of deliverability of ground to ground missiles from Iran to Israel,” he said. “But beyond this, they are also developing non-conventional capabilities.”

Iranian officials continued threatening Israel and the US Sunday, saying that they can now strike anywhere in Israel with their latest missile.

The threats are a response to Iranian fears that Israel or the US may try to destroy the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities. “The entire Zionist territory, including its nuclear facilities and atomic arsenal, are currently within range of Iran’s advanced missiles,” the ISNA students news agency quoted Yadollah Javani, head of the Revolutionary Guards political bureau, as saying.

“Therefore, neither the Zionist regime nor America will carry out its threats” against Iran, he said.

An attack on Iran “could only be carried out by angry or stupid people. For that reason, officials of the Islamic Republic must always be prepared to counter possible military threats,” Javani said in a statement, ISNA reported.

“Such statements by Iran only serve to demonstrate the need for Israel to maintain and further develop defensive systems such as the Arrow II,” a senior Israeli defense source told Reuters Sunday.

“It appears that Iran is rattling its saber for fear of a pre-emptive strike by Israel or the United States – however grounded in fact such fears are or are not,” the source said.

Iran successfully test-fired a new version of its ballistic Shihab-3 missile last Wednesday capable of reaching US forces in the Middle East and produced in response to Israeli efforts to improve its own missile power.

The Shihab-3, which Iran last successfully tested in 2002 before equipping its elite Revolutionary Guards with it in July 2003, is the Persian state’s longest-range ballistic missile, with a range of 1,296 kilometers.

“The Defense Ministry conducted the field test today to assess the latest modifications as a result of research carried out on Shihab-3,” the Iranian radio said.

A Defense Ministry statement reported by the official Islamic Republic News Agency said the test was successful. No further details, including the range of the missile’s new version, were provided.

Last week, Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said Iran was working to improve the Shihab-3’s range and accuracy in response to efforts by Israel to improve its missile power.

The Iranian missile, whose name “Shihab” means shooting star in Farsi, can reach Israel.

Israel has jointly developed with the United States the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system in response to the Shihab-3 threat.

Developed jointly by Israel Aircraft Industries and Chicago-based Boeing Co. at a cost of more than $1 billion, the Arrow is one of the few systems capable of intercepting and destroying missiles at high altitudes.

The commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Rahim Safavi, warned Iran will crush Israel if it attacks the Persian state, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Wednesday.

“If Israel is mad enough to attack Iran’s national interests, we will come down on them like a hammer and will crush their bones,” IRNA quoted Safavi as saying.

It was unclear what prompted Safavi to make his remarks.

“The entire Zionist territory, including its nuclear facilities and atomic arsenal, are currently within range of Iran’s advanced missiles,” the ISNA students news agency quoted Yadollah Javani, head of the Revolutionary Guards political bureau, as saying.

“Therefore, neither the Zionist regime nor America will carry out its threats” against Iran, he said.

An attack on Iran “could only be carried out by angry or stupid people. For that reason, officials of the Islamic Republic must always be prepared to counter possible military threats,” Javani said in a statement, ISNA reported.

In Israel, Defense Ministry officials opted to refrain from commenting on a report that joint preparations by Israel and the US are under way to launch another Arrow missile test, this time against a Scud D missile.

According to a report that appeared in the American Defense News magazine, the Scud D missile, which Syria possesses, has a warhead that separates in flight in order to confuse the defending interceptor and is one of the most sophisticated missiles of its kind.

The preparations come less than a month after the two countries launched a successful Arrow 2 missile test that intercepted and destroyed a live Scud B missile over the Pacific Ocean.

It was the 12th operational testing of the system since it was built. The Arrow-2 is geared to intercept an enemy missile as it reenters the earth’s atmosphere, far from the intended target.

Speaking about the successful July test, Boaz Levy the Arrow program director at Israel Aircraft Industries, was quoted as saying, “It was quite a logistical feat to transport all our system elements to the US West Coast, to deploy them at two different locations about a 100 kilometers apart, and to discover that once erected and deployed, that all worked as planned.”

He noted that the entire project could not have happened without the significant cooperation Israel receives from its American partners. The report also quoted Arieh Herzog, the IAI director, as saying that additional tests were planned within the context of the Arrow System Improvement Program and would yield significant benefits to ongoing US missile defense development programs. “When you have a high in the sky explosion like we had in our last test it yields important data for all the other interceptor programs,” he was quoted as saying.

Since 1998, the US has provided Israel with over a billion dollars in grants to research and develop the Arrow missile. In addition it has provided funding for two programs to complement the Arrow, the Boost Phase Intercept Program and the Tactical High Energy Laser program.

Iran continues to develop more sophisticated long range missiles such as the Shihab-3 which can be armed with chemical or nuclear warheads. Syria also maintains a sizable ballistic missile arsenal and like Iran is keen on upgrading and expanding its capability. Syria already has stocks of chemical weapons.

The Shihab-3 missile’s latest test comes at a time when the United States is accusing Iran of working to build nuclear weapons. Teheran denies the claims, saying its nuclear program is for the production of electricity.

Iran says the missile is entirely Iranian-made but US officials say the missile is based on the North Korean “No Dong” missile design, but is produced in the Persian state. The United States accuses both North Korea and China of assisting Iran’s missile program.

US intelligence officials have said previously that Iran can probably fire several Shihab-3’s in an emergency, but that it has not yet developed a completely reliable missile.

Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a US weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.

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