Secrets of Iranian nuclear program
Lately, Iranian media has been covering the latest achievements of the defense industry of the country. Iran has recently completed Navy military exercises "Velayat-91" and "Great Prophet-7." The Iranian Navy and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) successfully tested new military devices.
The world powers remain concerned about the development of missile technology by Iran. Not that long ago, it was reported that Iranian experts invented a new missile launcher providing for more efficient use of anti-ship missiles. The rocket launcher supposedly provides a more accurate and anti-ship missiles of longer range. It was developed by specialists of the Naval University named after Imam Khomeini and the Iranian Ministry of Defense. In addition, U.S. intelligence learned that by 2015 Iran would have intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. territory.
According to Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the naval forces of Iran, such rocket launchers would be installed on all types of ships without exception, and in the near future they would be fully operational. Experts believe that the new missile systems will significantly increase the effectiveness of reaching medium- range targets. Obviously, the Iranian military ships already have on-board systems able to hit short-and medium-range targets. However, according to the developers, the new design will significantly improve accuracy. Currently, Iran considers missiles as a major non-conventional, i.e., not prohibited for development, type of weapon.
According to representatives of the Ministry of National Defense, rocket launchers are almost the only way to provide decent resistance during a fight. In addition, having serious missile weapons, Iran will be able to pose a real threat to many world powers. This is precisely the reason why the government is spending most of the state budget on the development of missile programs. This was confirmed by Farhad Khosrokhavar, an Iranian-born French sociologist and expert on contemporary Iran. He believes that the military-technical development of Iran is moving in two directions - a nuclear program and missile program. He thinks that Tehran annually allocates most of the country's resources for the development of these two areas. In addition, the Iranian authorities turn all intelligence, human and organizational efforts to the soonest development of nuclear and missile activities.
One of the problems Iran is faced with is the lack of the required number of research centers and institutes that would help the country to develop new types of missiles independently. Currently, the Iranian authorities are forced to create their rockets based on the Russian, Chinese and North Korean designs. Iran is closely cooperating with the DPRK in the area of rocket and nuclear weapons development. According to experts, over the past 20 years, the Iranian authorities have managed to prepare a decent professional base that could learn from North Korean developers. Currently, the Iranian armed forces are considered the most advanced in the Middle and Near East, but are still inferior to the forces of Pakistan, Turkey and Israel.
The fact that Iran was actively building up its missile power became apparent last summer. According to the news agency Newsland, in June of last year, the Pentagon provided the U.S. Congress with a report that stated that the Iranian authorities were making every effort to develop a new missile system that would help to increase the lethal power and precision of short-range missiles. In addition, the report stated that Iran was conducting a global military training and testing of new warships and military aircraft. The Pentagon has also suggested that by 2015 Iran would have intercontinental ballistic missiles. The U.S. authorities are paying close attention not only to the development of the nuclear program, but also the development of missile systems in Iran. Many allies of Iran have already received samples of short-range ballistic missiles for further processing and use in their needs.
In addition, Tehran continues development of such rockets as "Sejil" and "Shahab-3," capable of reaching Israel and Europe. In July of 2012, during a large-scale military exercise "Great Prophet-7," the government of Iran tested a new anti-ship missile system of high accuracy. According to experts, these large-scale exercises and missile tests were carried out in response to the Iranian oil embargo by the United States.
At this time, Iran does not have missiles that can reach Europe, but it is likely only a matter of time. However, as noted by Vladimir Yevseyev, director of the Center for Public Policy Research, now Iran is not able to develop missiles of this range. According to him, the country's potential is not sufficient to create a missile system capable of reaching Europe. Currently, the armed forces have only two long-range missiles - "Shahab-3M" with the range of 1,100 kilometers, and its modification - "Eder-1" with the range of 1,600 kilometers.
Naturally, it is not enough to hit targets located in Europe. Development of more effective missiles "Shahab-4" with a potential range of 2,200 kilometers and "Shahab-5" with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers was suspended in 2003 for many reasons. According to Vladimir Yevseyev, Iran's capabilities in this regard have already been exhausted, and, most likely, in the future they will develop solid long-range missiles, but not any time soon. However, Iran does have some operating prototypes, for example, solid-fuel missile "Sejil-2" with the range of 2,200 km.
Developments in this direction may prompt a new three-stage solid-fuel missile with the range of up to 3,500 kilometers, which, however, still will not be enough to become a real threat to Europe. The U.S. authorities also doubt Iran's capabilities in the area of development of ballistic missiles. Experts from the United States Congress have questioned the fact that the Iranian government would be able to create an intercontinental missile that would be a serious threat to America by 2015.
As mentioned above, the possibility of development of such weapons was mentioned in the Pentagon report submitted to the U.S. Congress. A special commission of the Congress stated in its report that at this time, despite some very progressive achievements in the field of missile weapons, Iran will be suspending the development of its missile program due to the lack of resources, as well as professionals and modern technology. Tehran cannot attract foreign developers because of the tough political sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Iran.
According to Tom Collina, a leading fellow with the Washington Arms Control Association, many lawmakers are trying to ensure that by 2015 the U.S. government deploys a missile defense system on the East coast of the country, which is not necessary due to a low probability of Iran creating an intercontinental missile. In addition, Collina said that there was no rush with deployment of missile defense in Europe that is another headache for Russia. The Ministry of Defense of France supported the opinion of their foreign colleagues.
According to Michel Miraya, Head of the Strategy Department of the Ministry of Defense of France, Iran may be dangerous for Europe, but does not pose a threat as Tehran is not strong enough to do that. In its current state, according to Michelle Miraya, the Iranian missile program can not pose a threat to Europe or Russia or the United States. However, he believes that Tehran's gradual development of missile systems cannot be ignored. The European missile defense is aimed, among other things, against missile attack from Iran.