Iran Alarmingly Advancing Missile and Nuclear Programs.
While international focus on the Middle East is concentrating on areas of unrest, is Iran stealthily engaged in advancing its missile and nuclear programs? Yes, according to Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who warns the diversion created by recent Middle East upheavals is serving as a smoke screen to camouflage the rogue nation’s developments in these areas.
Last week the British added their voice to the Israeli warnings concerning Iran, stating that the Islamic Republic has secretly tested ballistic missiles that have the capacity of carrying nuclear warheads: Associated Press reports. Britain is convinced Iran has engaged in a minimum of three secret tests of medium-range ballistic missiles since October. Such activities are in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolutions. A UN panel of experts, who leaked to the press last month that Iran had conducted ballistic missile testing in October and February, has provided confirmation.
British foreign secretary William Hague expressed grave concern at Iran’s intentions to triple its capacity to enrich uranium to 20 percent, a greater quantity than is required for civilian nuclear power. Iran contends it needs this highly enriched uranium to provide fuel for its research reactor, but the reality is that it does not have the means of transforming this type of uranium into fuel rods. The fact that these uranium enrichment operations will be conducted within a fortified mountain base near Qum throws further suspicion on the matter. This location was uncovered by Western intelligence agencies in 2009, after Iran defied its nuclear proliferation commitments by secretly constructing the facility without notifying the International Atomic Energy Agency. Uranium enriched to 20 percent has the advantage of being easier to enrich to the 90 percent level required for nuclear weapons than the 3 percent level utilized in the majority of civilian nuclear reactors.
A further concern is that Iran revealed several new missile silos last week and boasts that it has constructed a new long-range radar system that can monitor low-flying satellites: The Foundry notes. If this is not an empty boast, the radar system could help the military hide their nuclear and ballistic missile endeavors from western intelligence by providing them with advance knowledge of satellite passing times.
One of the most alarming and potentially dangerous new missiles in Iran’s arsenal is the Khalije Fars anti-ship missile. As it reportedly is able to hit targets up to 217 miles away, this type of missile is within striking distance of US aircraft carriers and other warships. An undisputed expert on Iran’s missile capability, Uzi Rubin, gives a chillingly ominous assessment of the import of this type of weapon. He feels it could be a “game changer” should hostilities erupt in the Persian Gulf between the US and Iran.
In addition to the potential threat posed by the anti-ship missile, another threat exists. Iran recently conducted a 10-day test of new surface-to-surface missiles that are capable of reaching Israel, as well as US bases in the Middle East. Since some of these weapons can reach targets 1,200 miles away, possible vulnerable areas could include US bases in Afghanistan, which are 700 miles from Iran.
Although international sanctions aimed at curtailing Iran’s missile and nuclear capabilities have been well intentioned, the evidence is mounting that they have been most ineffective.