Iran missile, nuclear threat 'real, dangerous' - Russian analyst
17:35 | 12/ 03/ 2009
MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the West would be making a big mistake if they ignored or underestimated the potential missile and nuclear threat coming from Iran, a Russian military expert said on Thursday.
"Iran is actively working on a missile development program. I won't say the Iranians will be able to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles in the near future, but they will most likely be able to threaten the whole of Europe," said Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Nuclear Forces.
Some Western and Russian sources claim that Iran may be currently running a program, dubbed Project Koussar, to develop a totally different missile with a range of 4,000-5,000 km (2,500-3,300 miles).
"Iran has long abandoned outdated missile technologies and is capable of producing sophisticated missile systems," Dvorkin said at a news conference in RIA Novosti.
Iran successfully launched last year an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile as part of a navy exercise, dubbed Great Prophet 3, in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
With a reported range of 2,000 kilometers and armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead, the Shahab-3 puts Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking distance.
Western powers led by the United States, along with Israel, accuse Tehran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology for their delivery. Iran says it needs its nuclear program for the peaceful generation of electricity and missile program for space exploration.
Iran has consistently defied international demands to halt its nuclear program and insists it plans to use enriched uranium fuel produced at a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in its first domestically-built nuclear power plant, in the town of Darkhovin, which is scheduled to become operational in 2016.
Tehran announced in late February that it had 6,000 operating centrifuges at Natanz and was planning to install a total of 50,000 over the next five years.
Commenting on the Iranian nuclear program, Dvorkin said the potential danger of its military aspect was not the possibility of a nuclear strike against some countries, but the ability to assume a more bold approach in dealing with the international community after becoming a nuclear power.
"The real threat is that Iran, which is already ignoring all resolutions and sanctions issued by the UN Security Council, will be practically 'untouchable' after acquiring nuclear-power status, and will be able to expand its support of terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah," the expert said.
He added that the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran could force non-nuclear countries to seek similar weapons and ballistic missile technologies thus starting a nuclear race and increasing the possibility of a nuclear conflict.
Dvorkin has had a role in writing all major strategy documents for the Strategic Nuclear Forces and the Strategic Missile Forces. As an expert in the field he participated in preparing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the START I and START II pacts, and has made a significant contribution to formulating Soviet and Russian positions at negotiations on strategic offensive arms control and reduction.
To bad the Russian gov. is supporting Iran and blocking attempts to hamper Iran's program.
His agency has good intel
Interview with Maj. Gen.
In 1995, the Norwegians launched a rocket which was mistaken for an incoming American nuclear missile by the (his)Strategic Rocket Forces. How did that happen? Has there been an investigation by your institute or within the government, that you're aware of, of what happened in that situation?
There has been no investigation of this issue and we don't see why there should be. The launch of the missile was detected and that information was passed on to the president ... . But there was nothing, not even in the very nascent form, in terms of taking any kind of retaliating measures. ... To make a decision to make a retaliatory, a massive retaliatory strike, is very hard decision; even if you possess the complete information and true information concerning the fact that your country has been hit. It's totally impossible to make a decision based on information about one missile.
Our information was that it came within two minutes of the president having to make a decision in that particular instance. Does this not give you some cause for concern?
No, that is all in the land of fantasy. I will say it again. No president, no matter what president it is, will ever make a decision about launch-on-warning based on information about one rocket or missile or even ... two or three missiles.
So, I think that all concerns in that regard are just wasted time. And I don't think that there is sufficient grounds for Americans to be concerned or worried about our control system.
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-So who does make the decision? Non elected officials