Scary Iran Missile Story Collapses Under Weight Of Reality


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An internal report for the U.S. Congress has concluded that Iran probably is no longer on track, if it ever was, to having an ocean-crossing missile as soon as 2015.

Was always the case.

Assessments that Iran could build such a missile anytime soon were always heavily dependant on “sufficient foreign assisstance”. What was never clear was why anyone who could actually assist Iran to build such a bird would, y’know, think it was a good idea.

Iran does not appear to be receiving as much help as would likely be necessary, notably from China or Russia, to reach that goal, according to the 66-page report dated Thursday.

It is also increasingly tough for Tehran to obtain certain critical components and materials because of international sanctions related to its disputed nuclear program.

In addition, Iran has not demonstrated the kind of flight test program generally deemed necessary to produce an ICBM, said the study by Steven Hildreth, a specialist in missile defense who consulted seven external expert reviewers.

The study appears to be the most detailed unclassified look yet at Iran’s controversial ballistic missile and space programs. It does not address Tehran’s nuclear program, which has prompted international fears that it could lead to atomic weapons at short notice.

An effective nuclear-weapons capability requires three things to work together – enough fissile material, a reliable weapons device and an effective delivery system, such as a ballistic missile that can grow out of a space launch program.

Iran’s efforts to develop, test and field ballistic missiles and build a space launch capability have helped drive billions of dollars of U.S. ballistic missile defense spending, further destabilized the Middle East and contributed to Israel’s push for pre-emptive action.

Iranian missile threats have also prompted a U.S. drive for an increasingly capable shield for Europe, largely built by contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.

It always seemed obvious to me that what Iran really wanted was a reliable satellite launching capability that could then be commercialized, bringing in much needed hard currency – not an ICBM capability that would get it bombed into glowing ash before it could be completed. Then again, I don’t work for a think tank funded by the companies that build tanks…and anti-missile shields.

Amazingly, the new CRS report reaches exactly much the same conclusion.

Iran appears to have a significant space launch effort, not merely a disguised cover for ICBM development, the Congressional Research Service report said.

…Tom Collina, research director of the private Arms Control Association, a Washington-based advocacy group, said the report suggests the United States could respond in a more “measured” way to a potential Iranian long-range missile threat.

“We do not have to deploy missile defenses on the East Coast by 2015, as some in Congress want, nor do we have to rush missile defenses into Europe, which makes Russia nervous,” he said.

We never did. The rush to scare the pants off Americans was always a result of a happy marriage of convenience between defense contractors who saw big billions in procurement to be made and ideological crazies from the likes of Heritage who still see Reagan’s Star Wars as the end-game, with a view to giving the US an unanswerable first strike capability which would be unmatched by any other power.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I think your analysis of the players is pretty good, but after the last week or so, I’d add another group: reporters who get some kind of benefit from reporting the scariest thing they can. Let me say up front that I don’t think they’re being paid off. What they get is approval from their editors and sources, and sometimes the ability to push a partisan agenda.

    The partisan agenda is not always toward the right, although that would seem to be the case in the situations you cite here.

    I keep wondering what their mental state has to be in order to do this. Certainly not what we think of as the journalist eager to get the real story and inform the public.

    • Yep, you’re right Cheryl. “If it bleeds it ledes” has long been a newspaper maxim – and if it doesn’t bleed, well you can always find someone willing to give you a quote to suggest it might.

  • It’s all about the money as usual.

    As usual, the value of human lives is negligible when we are talking about money.

    The glorified chimps are at it again.

  • If the Iranian aim in producing rockets of sufficient size is solely or primarily to produce a hard currency source, their business analyst needs to be taken out behind the barn and shot.

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