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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Feb 25th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Iran Escalates Military Rhetoric
Iran Escalates Military Rhetoric PDF Print E-mail
Written by Agencies   
Monday, 04 August 2008

Ra'ad Anti-Ship Missile in Production
Ra'ad Anti-Ship Missile in Production

After Iran’s failure to reply by the deadline, the United States on Sunday said that the United Nations Security Council now had no choice but to expand sanctions. The Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions since 2006.

Iran Tests Anti-Ship Weapon, Repeats Stance on Strait (Update3)

By Camilla Hall

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Iran's military tested a new anti-ship weapon, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said as he repeated a warning that his forces could respond to any attack by closing the Strait of Hormuz, an oil transit point.

The weapon relies on technology that hasn't been used by other nations, Brigadier General Mohammad-Ali Ja'fari said today in comments carried by state-run news agencies including Press TV and the Islamic Republic News Agency. The weapon has a range of more than 300 kilometers (185 miles), IRNA said without giving details of the type of armament tested.

The Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, is a chokepoint between Iran and Oman through which about a fifth of the world's daily oil supply is shipped. Tensions over Iran's nuclear program escalated, helping to send the price of crude to a record, after Ja'fari's June 28 warning that Iran would ``impose control'' on the Gulf, including the strait, in response to any attack on its atomic installations.

The naval weapon ``is definitely capable of sending any warship within a distance of 300 kilometers to the bottom of the sea,'' Press TV cited Ja'fari as saying. ``The length of Iran's coastline along the Strait of Hormuz, its unique geographical position and the coastal heights make it possible for Iran to close off the strait.''

The announcement of the weapon test came as world powers were waiting for Iran's response to an offer from the U.S., Russia, China, France, the U.K. and Germany of economic and diplomatic incentives in exchange for the suspension of its uranium-enrichment program. European Union and U.S. officials gave Iran about two weeks to respond to the package during July 19 talks on the nuclear dispute in Geneva.

`Generous Incentives'

In Washington, the Bush administration again said it wants to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute through diplomacy.

``President Bush and the U.S. are committed to diplomacy,'' White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said today in an e-mailed response to an inquiry. ``We've made a generous incentives offer to the Iranian government, and we urge them to accept it.''

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana talked with Iran's leading nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, by telephone today, according to an e-mailed statement from the EU. They agreed to continue negotiations, IRNA reported.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday Iran is ``serious'' about the talks over its nuclear program. The nation said last week it has already replied to the incentives proposal and dismissed the deadline.

`No Answer'

Germany's Foreign Ministry ruled out any ``misunderstanding'' over Iran's response. ``We are of the opinion there was no answer,'' ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner told reporters in Berlin today. ``The offer is on the table; that deserves an answer.''

Iran, which holds the world's second-biggest oil and natural gas reserves, insists that its nuclear program is intended to generate electricity and is lawful under the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, which it has signed. The U.S. and some of its allies say that the country is trying to develop atomic weapons.

On July 9, Iran said its military test-fired a long-range missile. The announcement of the test of the Shabab-3, whose 2,000-kilometer range puts Israel within reach, followed July 7 maneuvers by the U.S. Fifth Fleet in which vessels practiced protecting Gulf oil rigs.

On June 2, Israeli warplanes carried out an exercise in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that was interpreted by military analysts as a rehearsal for a strike on Iranian nuclear sites.

To contact the reporter on this story: Camilla Hall in London at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Iran builds advanced naval weapon
Mon, 04 Aug 2008 11:33:19
Iran has developed a high-tech naval weapons system capable of targeting any warship within a range of 300 kilometers from its shores.

A top Iranian commander explained that the weapons system introduces state-of-the-art technology never used before.

"The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps recently tested a naval weapon which is definitely capable of sending any warship within a distance of 300 km to the bottom of the sea," IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari told reporters Monday.

"The weapon design and production technology used in this weapon is completely indigenous to Iran and has never been employed by any other country," he added.

Jafari said the new weapon has gone into mass production after successful testing.

The commander also commented on Iran's ability to close off the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway that connects the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. "The length of Iran's coastline along the Strait of Hormuz, its unique geographical position, and the coastal heights make it possible for Iran to close off the strait," said Jafari.

He added that Iranian armed forces could easily block the strait for an infinite time' using the available military equipment.

In early July, IRGC staged a major military maneuver to demonstrate its defense capabilities amid escalating US and Israeli threats of a strike against the country's nuclear facilities.

Jafari pointed out that the maneuver had achieved all its objectives, despite efforts made by Western media outlets to portray it otherwise.

"Eight missiles were fired simultaneously; however, poor images captured on camera gave rise to certain ambiguities," he said, referring to some speculations about the failure of the military exercise.



In Farsi


Iran Escalates Military Rhetoric
Published: August 5, 2008

TEHRAN — Iran warned on Monday that it could easily close a critical Persian Gulf waterway for oil shipments and claimed possession of a new long-range naval weapon that could sink enemy ships nearly 200 miles away.

It was unclear what provoked the warning, made by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, but it followed the weekend expiration of an informal deadline for Iran to respond to incentives from world powers to curb its uranium enrichment activities. The United States, which has warships deployed in the Persian Gulf, has said new sanctions should be imposed on Iran for failing to respond to the deadline.

The Iranian warning coincided with word that Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, spoke by phone on Monday with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. Mr. Solana was expected to report back on the conversation to the representatives of the six countries — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — that are leading the demands that Iran stop enriching uranium, Agence France-Presse reported.

In comments carried by the semiofficial Iranian news agency Fars, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said that Iran was capable of imposing “unlimited controls” at the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, an important international oil route.

“Closing the Strait of Hormuz for an unlimited period of time would be very easy,” he was quoted as saying.

General Jafari gave no details about the type of naval weapon involved in the recent test, but he said it was Iranian-built and “unique in the world.”

He said it would have the range to reach enemy warships in the Persian Gulf, an apparent reference to United States warships which have been conducting naval maneuvers in the Gulf.

“The Guards have recently tested a naval weapon which I can say with certainty that the enemy’s ships would not be safe within the range of 300 kilometers,” General Jafari was quoted as saying. “Without any doubt we will send them to the depths of the sea.”

In the past, Iran has made similar claims about its military capabilities but military analysts have treated them with caution. Early last month, Iran announced it had test-fired a number of missiles in war-game maneuvers, including at least one the government in Tehran described as having the range to reach Israel and another that it said was a relatively new torpedo called a Hoot missile, whose name means whale in Iranian. But military analysts said those war games featured more bluff and exaggeration than real displays of menacing new power and said the statements about the range of the largest missile were misleading.

General Jafari’s comments escalated the rhetorical exchange between Iran and the United States over Iran’s civilian nuclear program, which Washington and many Western governments have warned could be used to cloak the development of a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.

The Bush administration has refused to rule out a military option, and in June Israel’s air force rehearsed what American intelligence officials described as a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Representatives of the six nations met with Iranian officials in Geneva on July 19, with a senior American official taking part for the first time. The talks seemed to produce no progress on the chief demand -- that Iran stop uranium enrichment — but the six powers gave Iran two weeks to respond to their latest proposal before it would be withdrawn.

Specifically, the world powers wanted Iran to accept a formula known as freeze-for-freeze. Under this plan, Iran would not expand its nuclear program, and the United States and other powers would not seek new international sanctions for six weeks to pave the way for formal negotiations. The proposal, first offered last year, is intended to give Iran economic and political incentives to stop enriching uranium.

Iran dismissed the deadline and on Saturday, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, vowed that Iran would not move an inch on its nuclear rights, although he said it welcomed talks.

“We will take part in any negotiations and talk about any issue which consolidates our nuclear rights,” he said during a meeting with Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, according to the Iranian presidency Web site.

After Iran’s failure to reply by the deadline, the United States on Sunday said that the United Nations Security Council now had no choice but to expand sanctions. The Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions since 2006.

"It is clear that the government of Iran has not complied with the international community’s demand to stop enriching uranium and isn’t even interested in trying," said Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the United States mission to the United Nations, according to Reuters.

“They leave the Security Council no choice but to increase the sanctions, as called for in the last resolution passed," he added.

Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.



Iran tests naval weapon with 300 km range-report
Monday, 04 August 2008 10:00

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Monday they had tested a naval weapon that could destroy any vessel in a range of 300 km (190 miles), Iranian media reported.

"The Revolutionary Guards have recently tested a naval weapon with a 300 km range in which no vessel would be safe and would be sent to the depths," Guards Commander-in-Chief Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.

He said it was Iranian built but did not give details.

U.S. forces are stationed in several countries around the Gulf, including Bahrain where the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet is based. Iran says U.S. forces are in range of its weapons and has threatened to impose controls on shipping in the Gulf if pushed.

Around 40 percent of globally traded oil leaves the region through the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point at the southern end of the Gulf, flanked by the coastlines of Iran and Oman.




Iran: 'New weapon' for use at sea tested

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has tested a new weapon for use at sea, the chief of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted Monday as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

The commander, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, claimed the new marine weapon is "unique in the world" and has a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles).

The report provided no further details and didn't say when or where the weapon was tested, but it quoted Jafari as saying that there is "no similar weapon in the service of armies in the world."

The alleged new weapon's range indicated it may be some type of torpedo.

Iran and the West are locked in a standoff on the country's disputed uranium enrichment program, which the U.S. and its allies fear is aimed at making nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge and says the program is only for producing electricity.

Both the U.S. and Israel have said they would prefer a diplomatic solution to the standoff, but have not ruled out other options, including a military one.

To show their readiness to defend, the Guards test fired missiles and torpedoes in the Persian Gulf last month, and Tehran claimed it tested a new Shahab missile with a range of 2,012 kilometers (1,250 miles).

In case of a possible strike on Iran, Jafari said the country will respond in every way it can. The enemy, he said, would prefer to make the duration of the war as short as possible.

But, "we will prolong it," Jafari said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.



Jalili, Solana Discuss Iran's N. Issue

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on Monday spoke by phone with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

"The conversation took place and Solana will report on it to the representatives of the group of six," powers involved in the talks - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - a Solana spokesman told AFP.

The spokesman gave no details on the conversation or how long the two men talked.

A Solana spokesman had said earlier on Monday that he could not immediately confirm the planned contact between the two top negotiators.

But in Tehran earlier, new Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told reporters that Iran would hold talks with Solana on Monday.

Ghashghavi said, "Negotiations are an ongoing process and the question of deadline is media speculation."

At the last meeting between Jalili and Solana on July 19 in Geneva, Solana asked for a response to the package.

Solana presented an offer of economic and trade incentives in mid-June, while Iran has put forward its own proposal, an all-embracing package of suggestions to resolve the problems of the world, including the nuclear issue.

The United States had demanded that Iran meet a weekend deadline to respond to a package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to give up NPT right of uranium enrichment amid warnings of new sanctions.

But an EU diplomat said on Friday, "If it's in 16 days instead of 14 it's not a problem. We are not obsessed with a date."

Iran on Thursday rejected any deadline to give a final response to a package drawn up by world powers, and said there should be more negotiations to reach a deal.

"The language of deadline-setting is not understandable to us. We gave them our response within a month as we said we would, now they have to reply to us," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters on Thursday.

Mottaki said Iran and representatives of the major powers had agreed at a July 19 meeting in Geneva to find common ground on both sides' proposals aimed at ending the five-year standoff over Tehran's nuclear drive.

"Both sides said that in future meetings they should work on the communalities of both frameworks in a constructive way to reach an agreement that satisfies both sides, otherwise Iran's constructive activities will take their natural course," he said.

Tehran's arch-foe, the United States, insisted on Wednesday that Iran must give an answer on Saturday, warning of consequences of any defiance by the Islamic republic.

But, Washington took back its words on Thursday and denied its previous ultimatum to Tehran that it should present its answer till Saturday or face more sanctions.

"I didn't count the days. It's coming up soon," US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Thursday when asked if August 2 was the deadline for Iran to accept or reject the package.

Not only did McCormack omitted mentioning a strict deadline, he also said there was "no indication of that" when asked whether Washington would pull the incentives offer off the table.

The US-led West claims that Iran's atomic program is a cover for making nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran which says it needs nuclear power to produce electricity for a growing population.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West's illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has dismisses West's demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians' national resolve to continue the path.

Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that although Iran welcomes talks on its nuclear program it will not budge an inch on its rights.



Research from the Archives

Iran successfully tests anti-ship SSN-4 Sark missiles
 15:14 | 08/ 02/ 2007

TEHRAN, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - Iran has successfully tested Soviet-designed SSN-4 Sark anti-ship missiles, Iranian television reported, citing the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps responsible for the country's missile forces.

The tests were part of military exercises that began Wednesday in southern Iran, and all missiles successfully hit training targets at sea, the channel said.

Iranian military experts say the SSN-4 Sark missiles, designed in the 1960s in the Soviet Union and classified as R-13 missiles, have a hitting range of 300 km (186 miles) and are capable of reaching all classes of ships in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, as well as in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.

On Wednesday Iran successfully tested a TOR-M1 air defense missile system recently supplied by Russia. In late January Russia delivered 29 TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract signed at the end of 2005.

Russia's weapons supplies to Iran have alarmed the United States, which imposed new sanctions on the Russian government's official arms dealer Rosoboronexport and on two other companies for the sale of TOR-M1 to the Islamic Republic. Rosoboronexport faced sanctions for arms sales to Iran and Syria twice last year.



Research from the Archives

J'lem worried by Iranian owned anti-ship missile
Aug. 28, 2007

The recent delivery of an advanced Russian-made anti-ship missile to Iran has defense officials concerned it will be transferred to Syria and Hizbullah and used against the Israel Navy in a future conflict.

Called the SSN-X-26 Yakhont, the supersonic cruise missile can be launched from the coast and hit sea-borne targets up to 300 kilometers away. The missile carries a 200-kilogram warhead and flies a meter-and-a-half above sea level, making it extremely difficult to intercept. Its closest Western counterpart is the US-made Tomahawk and Harpoon.

The missile homes in on its target using an advanced radar guidance system that is said to make it resistant to electronic jamming.

The Yakhont is an operational and tactical missile and can be used against both a medium-sized destroyer and an aircraft carrier. It would pose a serious threat to the Israel Navy, according to defense officials.

"This is certainly a threat to the Navy," one defense official said. "There is a real fear that if this missile is in Iran it will also be in Syria and Lebanon."

During the Second Lebanon War, the IDF was surprised when the INS Hanit was struck by a Chinese-made ground-to-sea missile, which was not known to have been in Hizbullah hands. At the time, the IDF suspected Iran had assisted Hizbullah in the attack, which killed four sailors. While officials could not confirm that the missile had reached Syria or Hizbullah, the growing assumption is that any weapons system or missile that can be taken apart and fit into a shipping container can easily be transferred.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1188197171387&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


Video of a Surface fired Russian SSN4 Missile 2007
The revolutionary guard leader added: This missile can hit any target up to 350 Km and they successfully hit the targeted ships located at the Oman Sea and north of the Indian Ocean today.

SSN4 missile can carry up to 500kg warhead and because of its low attitude flying it can play a good role in electronic warfare. This missile can detect the location of the target by itself as well.
Now Iran has many types of anti-ship missile to hit any target.
FL missile with range of 15-40 Km
LYTO missile with range 85Km
Nor powerful missile range 120-180Km
SSN4 missile with range of 350km


Part 1: Naval anti-surface warfare capability, actual and near future

This is a follow-up to my Google-Earth research on the Iranian Military and Total Firepower Rating (Anti-ship missiles) research. I’ve done a fair bit of digging about Iranian naval power and found that most revered sources, like Global Security, are quite vague and that the online military watchers don’t provide anything like as much info as they do on many other countries. The good side to this is that my info is pretty fresh, the down side is that much of it is speculation.

1. - Major surface combatants
Iran seems to have retired all its old destroyers and large patrol ships. The main surface combatants are the remaining Alvand (Saam) Class corvettes and a new corvette seems to be under construction.

1.1 – Alvand Class corvettes

Illustration by me

Number in service: 3
Displacement: 1,200 tons
Armament (anti-ship missiles): 4 x C-802 anti-ship missiles, 1 x 114mm Gun
Armament (air defense): Poor. 1 x twin 20mm AAA, 2 x single 20mm AAA. Possibly shoulder launched SAMs.
Armament (other): 2 x 81mm mortars, 2 x 0.50cal machine guns, 1 x Limbo ASW mortar, 2x triple 12.75” torpedo tubes.

Recent Google-Earth images confirm that three of these are still in use although serviceability is unclear. All three have been modernized with four Chinese C-802 (YJ-82) anti-ship missiles which have a maximum range of about 120km and replaces the obsolete Sea Killer missiles originally fitted. The SeaCat SAM launcher seems to have been removed but at least one still has the Limbo anti-submarine mortar. There are no apparent changes in radar fit which raises questions about the C-802’s efficiency.

These vessels lack any credible air-defenses and would be particularly vulnerable to air-strike as was demonstrated when one of this class was sunk by the US in 1988 and another severely damaged.

1.2 – Mowaj
Sometimes spelt Mowj, though often described as a “destroyer” in the press, this seems to be a corvette based on the Alvand class (see above). Reports in the press, mostly several years old, talk of how Iran is building a new destroyer class called Mowaj. A credible source, Tel Aviv university, says that a single Mowaj class corvette, of about 1,200 tons (basically the same as the Alvand) is under construction at Bandar Abbas. This ties in with Google-Earth satellite imagery which clearly shows a part-finished warship moored beside the three Alvand class corvettes:

The satellite image may be several years old but it seems reasonable to assume that the Mowaj has not been fitted out with weapons quite yet else it would have been paraded in front of the national press as yet another great achievement of the Iranian military.

The current frosty relations with Britain rules out a weapons fit similar to that of the British supplied Alvand class corvettes it’s based on. The weapons fit is likely to come either from China or Russia and is likely to have been contracted several years ago.

Possible weapons fits, China:
The Chinese supplied C-802 anti-ship missile is pretty standard throughout the Iranian navy but has been superceded in Chinese service by the improved C-803 (YJ-83) which has a widely quoted range of up to 200km, significantly further than ship-launched Harpoon. Another Chinese missile now entering service is the C-602 (YJ-62) which is much bigger with a 300kg warhead and 280km range. The YJ-62 is more akin to the Tomahawk than the Harpoon and also comes in land-attack versions.

China would also supply an air-defenses; the HQ-7, based on the French Crotale system, is already in service with the Iranians in its land-based form and seems a natural choice. The LY-6 SAM system, based on the Italian Aspide, has recently been exported to Pakistan so must also be considered in the running. The Mowaj is too small to carry the much more advanced HQ-9 area air defense missile system which is based on the Russian S-300 (SA-10). Close in defense would be in the form of either the older twin 37mm gun turrets, or the much more advanced type-730 CIWS which is analogous to the Phalanx CIWS.

The Chinese weapons fit would be topped off with a 100mm compact main gun of French design origin.

Possible weapons fits, Russia:
Iran is not thought to have any Russian supplied anti-ship missiles currently in service. The likely candidate would be the SS-N-25 Swtichblade missile which has a 130km range and is generally equivalent to the US Harpoon. Much more dangerous is the supersonic SS-N-26 “Yakhont” anti-ship missile which has a range of 300km and an impact speed of about Mach 2.5 making it very hard to shoot down.

The Mowaj doesn’t seem to have space for the infamous SS-N-22 Sunburn (“Moskit”) supersonic anti-ship missile and the SS-N-27 “Klub” cruise missile, with its potent 220km range and land-attack potential, normally has vertical launch silos which are not apparent on the satellite view.

The Russians have already sold Iran the SA-15 “Tor” air-defense system so this seems a natural choice for the Mowaj. The Tor is highly regarded and has a potent anti-missile capability. It is launched from shallow vertical launch bins which could easily be added to the Mowaj’s decks. Another SAM option is the SA-19 Grisom which on naval vessels is normally part of the Kashtan combined gun/missile CIWS – probably the best CIWS in the world. A longer ranged option is the SA-17 Grizzly missile system.

The Russian weapons fit would be finished with an AK-176 (76mm) or AK-100 (100mm) main gun.

2. – Fast attack craft
The Iranian navy places a great emphasis on fast attack craft (FACs), both missile boats and torpedo boats. The majority of the missile boats are imported Chinese designs although a significant number of pre-revolution European boats remain in service. There are reports of an indigenous missile boat building program referred to as Sina. What is easier to evidence is the indigenous torpedo boat program.

2.1 – Thondor Class FACs

Number in service: 10
Armament (anti-ship): 4 x C-802 (YJ-82) missiles
Armament (other): Twin 30mm AAA, Twin 23mm AAA

Of Chinese design, these craft are typical of missile boats worldwide. The C-802 missile is similar to the Exocet but significantly greater ranged due to its turbojet engine. The AAA does not amount to a CIWS in the popular sense and the 23mm cannon, added behind the bridge, appears to be unguided and may be a local modification. Google-Earth and press photos suggests that many of these vessels only routinely carry two missile tubes.

2.2 – “China Cat” FACs

Number in service: 6 ~ 10
Armament (anti-ship): 6 ~ 8 C-701 short range missiles
Armament (other): Machine guns or light cannon, manually aimed.

The class name for these boats remains unknown. Although they are widely credited with carrying C-701 anti-ship missiles recent photographs of them in service show a conspicuous absence of these missiles and fire control radars. The C-701 is a comparatively short ranged anti-ship missile designed for littoral combat. Iran also operates a shore based variant (see below) and is reported to be building these missiles under license. The C-701 has a maximum range of about 20km putting it in a similar category to the Br 


FACTBOX-How big is Iran's military?
Wed Jul 2, 2008 9:05am EDT
July 2 (Reuters) - U.S., Iranian and Western diplomats have played down worries about a looming Israeli military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, after reports of heightened tensions rattled nerves and helped drive oil prices near record highs.

Iran insists its nuclear plans are peaceful but says its forces are ready to respond to any military attack.

Following are some details about Iran's military capability. The totals include equipment held by the Revolutionary Guards, which operate on land, at sea and in the air:


Iran has 545,000 personnel in active service. Major General Ataollah Salehi is the armed forces chief.

* ARMY: The army comprises 350,000 men, including 220,000 conscripts. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, viewed as the most loyal guardian of the ruling system, has another 125,000 men. In 2004 the army was organised in four corps, with four armoured divisions and six infantry divisions.

-- There are nearly 1,700 tanks including some 100 Zulfiqar locally produced main battle tanks. A large number of Iran's tanks are elderly British-made Chieftains and U.S.-made M-60s.

-- Soviet-made T-54 and T-55s, T-59s, T-62s, and T-72s were also part of the inventory, all captured from the Iraqis or acquired from North Korea and China.

-- The latest Military Balance report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies says that some of the tanks' serviceability may be in doubt.

-- There are around 640 armoured personnel carriers. There are 8,196 artillery pieces of which 2,010 are towed, and over 310 are self-propelled.


-- In a 2007 parade to mark the anniversary of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Iran showed its Shahab-3 missile, saying it could travel 2,000 km (1,250 miles) -- enabling it to hit Israel and U.S. bases in the region. Another missile at the parade, the Ghadr-1, can reach targets 1,800 km (1,125 miles) away. It was believed to be the first time it has been shown publicly.

* NAVY: There are 18,000 naval personnel. The navy has its headquarters at Bandar-e Abbas. Iran's navy has three Russian Kilo class submarines, three frigates and two corvettes.

-- As of 2001 the regular Iranian navy was in a state of overall obsolescence, and in poor shape because they had not been equipped with modern ships and weapons. The readiness of the three frigates is doubtful, and the two nearly 40-year-old corvettes do not have sophisticated weapons.

-- In late 2007 Iran launched a new locally made submarine and a navy frigate named as Jamaran. Jane's Defence Weekly reported last November that Iran was also building missile-launching frigates copied from 275-tonne Kaman fast attack missile craft originally purchased from France in the late 1970s.


-- The air force has 52,000 personnel and 281 combat aircraft. However, serviceability may be as low as around 60 percent for U.S. aircraft types and 80 percent for Russian aircraft. There are F-14 and MiG 29 aircraft. There are also some aircraft impounded from Iraq -- Russian-built Sukhoi Su-24s and 25s. Iran also has transport aircraft and helicopters.

-- In September 2007, Iran said it had tested two new domestically-produced jet fighters. State television said the Saegheh was a new generation of the Azarakhsh (Lightning) fighter. Iran said it was being built on an industrial scale. Sources: Reuters/Military Balance 2008/www.globalsecurity.org/Jane's Defence Weekly


© Thomson Reuters 2008

From Bloggers

Iranian Sea Skimming Missiles


Thanks to China, Iran has been building sophisticated anti ship missiles in 3 classes: light, standard and heavy, each in several sub classes and numerous delivery systems.

Kowsar is the light missile, there are 2 models being manufactured and kowsar-3 is under development.

Kowsar-1 is identical to Chinese C-701 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-701

25km range, very small, only 2.5 meters long, Mach .8 with TV,IR and millimeter radar. Its advantage is its size and can be put on small FACs, several on a a small truck. Disadvantage is its short range and 29kg warhead.

Kowsar-2 is identical to Chinese TL-10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TL-10

This is essentially the fire and forget version of Kowsar-1. Because of that, it can be put on light fighters like the F-5 and all sorts of helicopters and on just about any vessle because you just fire it, you don't need to guide it or give it initial targeting data. Iran has those on its hovercrafts now.

Kowsar-3 is under development. This one is Iranian and its aim is to increase the warhead size to 120kg by replacing the rocket engine with a small turbojet engine.

Noor is the standard size missile. 3 versions are built and they are almost identical to chinese C-801 and C-802, that are comparable in size, sophistication and capabilities to Exocet and Harpoon.


Noor is 6.5 meters long and a 165 kg warhead. This is what Iran has on its bigger boats and ships, SU-24s, F-4s, and Kilo Subs.

Noor-1 (originally Tondar) has a solid fuel rocket engine and has a range of about 40km, 50 air launched.

Noor-2 is the same thing with turbojet engine and has a range of 170km.

Noor-3 (Ghadr?) has a little extra booster for Sub launch, but I don't think the midget subs can fire it.

Ra'ad is the heavy weight and it is Iranian designed. They used the silkworm airframe, shoved the brains and guidance of Noor into it and put a turbojet engine in it for extra range. It has a 315kg warhead and a 360km range. Advantage is hitting any point in Persian Gulf from land and can do serious damage. Disadvantage is its big and easy to intercept.

Iran also built a copy of Sea Killer 2, an italian SSM, by the name of Fajre e darya, but it was junk. In addition, Iran has an inventory of Silkworms HY-2, Chinese C-802s and rumoured to have a supply of SS-N-22 sunburns and SS-N-26 Yakhonts but I can't find any evidence.

That's in a nutshell.


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Ra'ad Cruise Missile (Iran)


Appearing in
Jane's Air-Launched Weapons

Publication date
Jan 16, 2006

Land-attack cruise missile.

In January 2004 Iran announced the existence of a previously unacknowledged anti-ship cruise missile, known as the Ra'ad (thunder). This ground- or ship-launched missile appears to be a modification of the Chinese-built HY-2 (CSSC-3'Seersucker') that Iran acquired from the late 1980s onwards. Developed by Iran's tactical and strategic missile house, the Aerospace Industries Organisation (AIO), the Ra'ad has a new turbojet engine installed in a redesigned rear fuselage section. To feed the engine, two large air inlets are mounted on either side of the rear airframe, just ahead of the tailplane leading-edge. Iran developed its own Tolloue 4 small turbojet during the 1990s to support its UAV programmes, but it is not known if this is the engine used in the Ra'ad. It is also unclear what sort of mid-course guidance and seeker technology has been adopted, although it is understood to rely on active-radar terminal homing. Iran is now known to be developing its own active radar seeker technology and it is possible that the Ra'ad may incorporate a dual-mode (RF and IR) seeker unit. Iranian press reports stated that the missile had a range of 150 km (93 miles) but its basic design is clearly optimised for much longer ranges. The Ra'ad appears to be linked to similar Chinese developments of extended range missiles based on the original HY-2 design. Therefore, it is possible that an air-launched variant will emerge, perhaps adapted for the stand-off land attack role (like China's YJ-6 family). By early 2004 the Ra'ad


China Sells Arms to Terrorists
Charles R. Smith
Thursday, Sept. 29, 2005
Iran, Taliban, Al-Qaida Buy PLA Weapons

The Bush administration has elected to waive sanctions against China for its proliferation of advanced weapons to nations hostile to the United States such as Iran.

"A determination has been made to extend the waiver of import sanctions against certain activities of the Chinese Government," noted the official statement released by the State Department.

According to the State Department, the sanctions were imposed because of "activities of the Chinese government relating to the development or production of any missile equipment or technology and activities of the Chinese government affecting the development or production of electronics, space systems or equipment, and military aircraft."

While the Bush administration has declined to impose sanctions on China, Beijing has decided to develop and sell more advanced weapons. The China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. (CPMIEC) has released detailed information on a new cruise missile for export.

Missiles for Sale

The YJ-62 anti-ship missile is now being offered to Chinese military customers for export under the designation of C602. The turbojet-powered missile has a range of 174 miles and flies a low-level mission, skimming the sea surface at 98 feet. During the attack phase, the missile dives under 30 feet to avoid defense detection.

The C602 resembles the U.S. Navy Tomahawk in that it has a conventional mid-body wing, which deploys after launch. The engine inlet is mounted slightly forward of a cruciform tail configuration. The YJ-62 will arm Chinese navy guided-missile destroyers. Two of the new 052C destroyers under construction are fitted with four-canister launchers.

Chinese officials claimed that the C602 export version of the cruise missile uses a strap-down laser ring gyro system coupled with GPS, and agile frequency radar for better attack targeting.

China is also offering an advanced version of the C802 anti-ship missile for export. The C802A has an extended range of over 100 miles and a new turbo-jet propulsion system. The C802A can be adapted for air, land, sea or submarine launch. China has previously sold copies of the C802 to Iran, and the Iranians are expected to arm their aircraft and new Russian submarines with the deadly missile.

China has also put a new land-attack cruise missile on display. The YJ-63 has become China's first in-service land-attack missile. The YJ-63 is clearly related to the Silkworm and Russian Styx-class cruise missile but is powered by an advanced turbo-jet.


YJ-63 missile technology appears to be identical to the Iranian Raad missile co-developed by Tehran and Beijing. The Raad missile provides Iran with a long-range standoff-attack capability against naval targets. Iranian press reports describe Raad as capable of being ship- or shore-launched. The Raad is reportedly in production.

According to Aviation Week, Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani was reported saying that Raad had a range in excess of 300 miles.

While the missile appears intended for the anti-ship role, it can be employed as a land-attack weapon. The Silkworm missile on which Raad is based carries a 1,100-pound warhead. This allows the Raad to be fitted with a biological, chemical or nuclear payload.

China is reported to have provided Iran with the technology to produce the HY-2 Silkworm. Beijing has repeatedly said that it would abide by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in order to avoid economic and political sanctions required by the MTCR agreements. The nonbinding MTCR requirements restrict ballistic or cruise missiles capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload over 300 kilometers. The performance of the Raad exceeds the MTCR restrictions.


China has not limited its proliferation efforts to cruise missiles. The Washington Times reports that a senior House staffer back from a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan said the Taliban and al-Qaida enemy are increasingly turning to Chinese-made arms to fight U.S. troops.

U.S. officials are concerned because new Chinese-made AK-47 rifles and advanced electronic land mines are falling into Taliban and al-Qaida hands. The source said the weapons are bought on the black market, some with proceeds from opium and heroin sales.

In addition, the Washington Times reports that Pakistani forces recovered an unmanned aircraft and seized 21 militants in a raid on suspected al-Qaida hideouts in the tribal areas near Afghanistan.

Pakistani commander Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain stated that the militants used a Chinese-made unmanned spy plane to follow security forces in the rugged area of North Waziristan near the Afghan border. The 21 suspects were detained in a raid on a compound and religious school near the region's main town of Miranshah. The raid netted several leading militants and some non-Pakistani "foreigners."

Americans and our allies will continue to die from Chinese weapons sold to Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists as Beijing goes unpunished. Chinese generals will continue to sell their weaponry to anyone with the cash, even if it comes from heroin sales.

The Bush administration has given China a free pass on sanctions. Beijing has taken the free pass for what it really is – a sign of weakness.



Iran Builds Cruise Missile
From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 143 Jan 30, 2003
February 6, 2004
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary regime last month marked the 25th anniversary of its victory over the Shah by launching a sophisticated missile dubbed Raad and its accompanying advanced radar system designated DM-3b. Minister of defense Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani led the ceremony in full naval dress uniform.

The official handout described the radar system as navigating and guiding the combatant missile in its final stage. The medium-range Raad missile is equipped with a self-guidance device. Shamkhani enthused: the two systems manufactured in Iran’s state aviation industry further enhance the capabilities of Iranian armed forces.

What the handout did not reveal was that Raad is no ordinary coastal or shipboard projectile but a cruise missile, capable of halting Personal Gulf shipping by blockading the Hormuz Strait. It can also choke off incoming and outgoing sea traffic via the Shatt al-Arb, Iraq’s only exit point for its oil exports and entrance for its vital imports.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly ’s Gulf sources report launching bases for the new missiles are going up at four places on Iran’s Gulf coast: the northern end at Bandar a-Khomeini opposite the mouth of the Shatt al Arb and facing Kuwait and Bahrain, at Bushehr, site of its nuclear reactor, at the big Bandar Abbas naval base and Revolutionary Guards headquarters, and at Bandar e-Lengeh west of Qeshm Island.

From these installations, Iranian missiles will cover the tanker and merchant ship lanes leading into the Persian Gulf from the Indian Ocean through the Gulf of Aden.

A fifth launching base will be located on the small highly-strategic island of Great Tumb situated just north of the Hormuz Strait at the mouth of the Gulf.

According to our military experts, the locations of the new Raad missile bases betray both aggressive intent and determination to defend Iran’s Gulf shore from assault by warships or hostile marine landings. Iran’s military command appears to be preparing the country’s national defenses for an anticipated American attack in the course of 2004 or early 2005.



That Iran is building a strategic ballistic missile force and a military space program is hardly a secret - in fact, the Iranian authorities are advertising it full blast. Less advertised, though, are their aspirations in the field of cruise missiles. In an October 9 2004 interview by the Teheran Hemayat, the deputy head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization Mr. Naser Maleki extolled Iran's growing capabilities in the field of anti ship cruise missiles, citing the Noor class with a range of 120 Km and the Ra'ad class with the range of 350 Km. Iranian sources had already disclosed in January 2004 that the Ra'ad was in series production, following a series of successful tests in the preceding year. The released images of the Ra'ad revealed a significantly different layout compared to the Kent: Unlike the underbelly pod housing of the jet engine in the latter, the former seems to house its engine inside the fuselage with an diagonally located, fixed air scoop protruding into the slipstream (Fig 5).

In a well-advertised 1998 arms exposition, the Iranian defense industry displayed a small jet engine, obviously tailored for cruise missiles. According to Duncan Lennox, editor of the Jane's Strategic Weapons yearbook, that engine was a copy of the 350 Kgs thrust Microturbo TRI-60 turbojet, France's mainstay in cruise missile propulsion. It stands to reason that this engine powers the Ra'ad. Now, in our age of GPS navigation there is no reason why a cruise missile that can fly 350 Km won't fly ten times further, provided it carries enough fuel and is powered by a more efficient engine, for example the Kent's excellent R95 - 300 turbofan.  



Iran tests missiles, but says it’s willing to talk

By Valerie Lincy
Updated July 10, 2008

(Click here to access status report archive)


Iran tested its medium-range Shahab-3 missile this week, during military exercises organized by its Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Shahab-3 is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and is of little use armed with anything else given the missile’s inaccuracy and the small number Iran is believed to have in its arsenal. The fact that Iran is testing this missile, and seeking to extend its range, offer further evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapon intentions.

According to Iranian state media, the Shahab-3 tested on July 9 has a range of 2,000 km and carried a one ton conventional warhead. Video footage of the test suggests that Iran tested an older version of the Shahab-3 and not the more advanced design it has already displayed and tested.

In addition to the liquid-fuel Shahab-3, Iran reportedly tested a number of other missiles during the recent exercises, including two solid-fuel missiles: the Zelzal and the Fateh. Iran also reportedly tested the Hoot (Hout) torpedo. According to the Air Force Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the tests “demonstrate our resolve and might against enemies who in recent weeks have threatened Iran with harsh language.”

The exercises come at a delicate moment in the diplomatic effort to slow Iran’s nuclear progress. On July 4, Iran officially responded to an incentives offer from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China (P5+1). The offer promises Iran formal negotiations on nuclear energy, regional security, economics and civilian aviation assistance in exchange for a freeze on its uranium enrichment and heavy water reactor programs. Iran did not dismiss the offer – as it did in 2006 when an almost identical offer was made by the same group of countries. However, Iran did not directly address the issue of whether it would freeze further development of uranium enrichment, which would allow such negotiations to begin.

Until a freeze is in place, countries leading diplomacy with Iran are pursuing a two-track strategy: Penalties – such as U.N., E.U. and U.S. sanctions – are coupled with offers of incentives and engagement. The most recent penalties were imposed by the United States on July 9, when eleven Iranian entities linked to nuclear and missile work were targeted with financial sanctions. The action freezes the bank accounts and financial assets of these entities, and U.S. persons are prohibited from doing business with them. All but one of the entities had been designated previously by the U.N. Security Council; they include officials from Iran’s Ministry of Defense, Revolutionary Guard Corps and Atomic Energy Organization, as well as companies involved in nuclear and missile work.

In late June, the European Union imposed sanctions on 26 entities linked to Iran’s missile and nuclear work– including Iran’s Bank Melli and officials from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Defense. The move, which followed months of internal debate, requires all E.U. member states to freeze the assets of listed entities and to institute a travel ban on listed individuals.

Meanwhile, Iran is still refusing to answer questions about alleged military dimensions to its nuclear work, including the possibility that it acquired from the Khan network designs for a more sophisticated nuclear warhead, small enough to fit atop Iran’s medium-range Shahab-3 missile. A May 26 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency describes additional activities that, if true, would confirm that Iran, at least at some point, sought to develop nuclear weapons. These activities include:

  • Modifying the medium-range Shahab-3 missile to accommodate a nuclear warhead;
  • High explosives testing, involving high voltage and exploding bridgewire detonators, an underground test arrangement, and “a full-scale hemispherical, converging, explosively driven shock system that could be applicable to an implosion-type nuclear device;”
  • Using military-related institutes for nuclear research and the procurement of spark gaps, shock wave software, neutron sources, special steel parts and radiation measurement equipment;
  • Manufacturing centrifuge components at Defense Industries Organization workshops;
  • And the possession of a document describing how to produce enriched uranium metal and how to machine the metal into hemispheres, which are nuclear weapon components.

The IAEA report lists eighteen documents supporting these allegations, which the Agency considers to be “detailed in content” and “generally consistent.” Iran has called the documents “forged” or “fabricated,” but has largely refused to help the Agency investigate their validity. Iran also appears to have reduced overall cooperation and transparency with inspectors, by blocking access to centrifuge component manufacturing sites and failing to provide timely information on the installation of new centrifuges.

Indeed, Iran has continued to expand centrifuge operations in defiance of repeated U.N. Security Council demands. As of late May, Iran was operating a 3,000 centrifuge unit at its commercial-scale enrichment plant at Natanz and installing four additional such units. And while Iran is still installing and operating its first-generation machines (the P-1 or IR-1) at the commercial plant, it is now testing two new centrifuges at the Natanz pilot plant. Both the IR-2 and the IR-3 are next-generation centrifuges that contain important design improvements over the P-1; both have been tested with uranium gas.

The world ratchets up pressure

Iran’s refusal to suspend enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water work has now led the U.N. Security Council to vote sanctions three times: Resolution 1803 of March 3, 2008, Resolution 1747 of March 24, 2007, and Resolution 1737 of December 23, 2006. These resolutions bar Iran from importing or exporting most items related to uranium enrichment, reprocessing, heavy water and nuclear weapon delivery systems, and bar states from providing Iran with financial or technical assistance aimed at acquiring these items. Resolution 1803 also bars Iran from purchasing dual-use nuclear and missile items, requests that countries inspect suspect cargoes to and from Iran, reduce public financial support for business with Iran, and cut back on transactions involving Iranian banks, particularly Bank Saderat and Bank Melli. However, the resolution’s language leaves plenty of room for countries uninterested in enforcing such measures to opt out. Combined, the resolutions call for a freeze on the assets of some 75 Iranian entities linked to missile and nuclear work. Resolution 1747 also bars Iran from exporting conventional arms and related materials and asks states to “exercise vigilance and restraint” in transferring arms to Iran. States must also “exercise vigilance” in providing Iranian nationals with specialized nuclear and missile-related training and are called upon, but not required, to cut off “grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans” to the Iranian government. In addition, countries must report whether a person sanctioned by the Council has entered into or transited through their territory. Resolution 1803 puts five additional individuals under an international travel ban.

In order to oversee implementation, the Security Council created a Committee composed of Council members, responsible for investigating alleged violations of the resolutions, for expanding the asset freeze and travel surveillance to additional entities, and for considering exemption requests. As of June 13, 2008, out of 192 countries, the Committee had received reports on the implementation of Resolution 1737 from only 89 countries, reports on the implementation of Resolution 1747 from 76 countries, and reports on the implementation of Resolution 1803 from 51 countries. In addition, since last March, the Committee has granted two exemption requests for financial transactions involving Iranian entities whose assets have been ordered frozen by the Security Council. The Committee also received three notifications related to the transfer of nuclear items to Iran for its Bushehr reactor. Resolution 1803 expands the Committee’s responsibilities, requiring countries to report within five days on the results of any cargo inspection authorized by the Resolution.

The United States has, for the most part, relied on Executive Order 13382 to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iran and to further tighten the noose around Iran’s nuclear and missile developers. Of the 75 entities listed in Security Council Resolutions 1737, 1747 and 1803, the United States has designated 26 under this Executive Order, which bans U.S. firms from dealing with them and freezes all of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

Treasury’s most recent action under this authority was to sanction Bahrain’s Future Bank B.S.C for aiding Iran's nuclear and missile programs. According to Treasury, Future Bank was established in 2004 as a joint venture between a private Bahrain bank and Iran's Bank Melli and Bank Saderat, with which the Security Council recently advised countries to monitor transactions. Earlier, on October 25, 2007, the U.S. Departments of State and of the Treasury announced measures against 27 Iranian entities linked to proliferation and terrorism, notably two large Iranian banks and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), two of Iran’s leading military organizations. Of these 27 entities, five are key IRGC officials and three are officials at Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization—all of whom have already been sanctioned by the Security Council. The United States also singled out nine companies affiliated with the IRGC and two Iranian banks that have conducted transactions on behalf of entities sanctioned by the Security Council. According to the U.S. government, Bank Melli has handled transactions in recent months for Bank Sepah, Defense Industries Organization and Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group—all of which are involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program. And Bank Mellat provides banking services for key Iranian nuclear entities like the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and Novin Energy Company.

The United States has also invoked antiterrorism and banking laws to encourage major banks in Europe, the United States and the Middle East to limit or cut ties with Iran. On March 20, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network warned U.S. banks that Iran is resorting to "an array of deceptive practices" in order to avoid sanctions. According to Treasury, Iran's central bank, also known as Bank Markazi, may be facilitating transactions for sanctioned Iranian banks. Bank Markazi and other Iranian banks have also requested that their names be removed from global transactions in order to mask the parties in the transaction. A number of banks have limited or ended business with Iran because of these risks, which has made it more costly and difficult for Iran to move hard currency around the world, and has raised the cost of doing business for the Iranian government and Iranian companies.

Nuclear progress

After an intermittent freeze on uranium enrichment that lasted several years, Iran resumed enrichment work in January 2006. From March 2004 through mid-May 2008, it had produced some 320 tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) – a gas that can be enriched to make fuel for reactors or bombs – at its Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan. Since early 2007, Iran has stepped up work at its underground commercial-scale enrichment plant at Natanz, with the installation of piping, wiring and control panels, and the installation and linkage of P-1 centrifuges in a cascade. Twenty cascades of 164 machines are now operating there. All these centrifuges have been fed with UF6, and the feed rate has increased in recent months. Since December 12, 2007, Iran has processed some 2,300 kg of UF6, as compared to 1,670 kg from February through December 2007. According to the IAEA, this work has yielded low-enriched uranium of up to four percent U-235.

Iran has also enriched uranium in cascades of 10, 12 and 164 P-1 centrifuges at its pilot plant at Natanz, though work there on the P-1 seems to be decreasing. Instead, Iran is using the pilot plant to develop its more advanced centrifuges, including the IR-2 and IR-3. The IR-2 is a sub-critical machine with a single carbon fiber rotor and no bellows, according to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security. It is not clear whether Iran is able to manufacture, assemble and install the IR-2 in large quantities, as Iran may rely on foreign suppliers for some of the machine’s key materials and parts. However, Iran is working to make centrifuge operations entirely indigenous; at its Kalaye Electric research and development laboratory, Iran is developing not only centrifuge components, but also measuring equipment and vacuum pumps.

The 320 tons of UF6 Iran has produced so far, if enriched to weapon grade, would be sufficient to make several dozen nuclear weapons, assuming that between 15 and 25 kg of uranium enriched to 93 percent U-235 would be needed for each bomb. The key questions are how quickly Iran can manufacture and install more working P-1, IR-2 and IR-3 centrifuges, whether it can successfully operate multiple, linked cascades on a continual basis, and whether the feedstock material it has stockpiled, and that it continues to produce at the UCF, is of sufficiently high quality for successful enrichment. Iran’s enrichment work so far may have been critically dependent on the use of Chinese supplied uranium gas for its success.

Meanwhile, other parts of Iran’s nuclear program have also progressed. Despite calls by the U.N. Security Council, the IAEA and Europe to abandon the project, Iran has pushed forward with its heavy water production plant at Arak, and with its 40-megawatt heavy water reactor nearby. On November 24, 2007, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization claimed that Iran had already produced fuel for the plant, which is still under construction. The heavy water plant was inaugurated in August 2006, and Iran claims that it is fully operational and able to produce heavy water with 99.8 percent purity. The IAEA board indefinitely blocked Iran’s request for technical assistance for this project at a meeting last November, over concerns that the reactor could be used to produce plutonium for weapons. IAEA inspectors were able to visit the reactor and conduct design verification on May 13. However, inspectors’ access to the heavy water production plant is blocked as long as Iran fails to implement the Agency’s Additional Protocol allowing for enhanced inspections. According to the IAEA, satellite imagery appears to confirm Iran’s claim that the plant is operating.

After years of delay, the light water power reactor at Bushehr, which is being built by Russia for over $1 billion, is nearing completion. Delivery of the reactor fuel needed for start-up, some 82 tons, was completed in January 2008. According to Russian officials, preparation for loading the fuel into the reactor will begin this summer, and the reactor will be launched no earlier than late 2008. The billion dollar reactor is expected to supply 1,000 megawatts of energy to the national power grid. Each year, the reactor will also generate spent fuel containing some 250 kg of weapon-useable plutonium—enough to fuel several dozen nuclear weapons after further processing. The spent fuel will be returned to Russia, in accordance with a protocol signed in February 2005.

Grounds for suspicion

Doubts about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear work have grown in response to Iran’s decision to limit its cooperation with the IAEA. In response to Security Council Resolution 1747, a government spokesman announced that instead of notifying the Agency of new building and renovating plans as soon as they are decided, as it promised to do in February 2003, Iran would revert to providing such information 180 days before the introduction of nuclear material into such facilities. The change will further limit the IAEA’s ability to understand Iran’s nuclear status and its future plans—a task already limited by Iran’s February 2006 decision to end application of the Agency’s Additional Protocol. The IAEA contests Iran’s right to unilaterally alter agreements on verification—though this objection is unlikely to prompt a change in Iran’s position. Under the basic inspection agreement that is currently in place in Iran, the IAEA must still be allowed to observe any enrichment activity that takes place. However, Agency inspectors are no longer able to inspect Iran’s progress in manufacturing or assembling centrifuges and related equipment.

Since February 2003, the IAEA has published 20 reports on Iran’s secret nuclear work, the most recent of which appeared in May 2008. This report concluded that the Agency is able to “verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran,” but that serious concerns remain as to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work.

In early February, the International Atomic Energy Agency presented member states, including Iran, with specific evidence that Iran had pursued work related to nuclear weapons. Iran rejected the allegations as baseless. But, it has barred IAEA inspectors from interviewing Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, former head of the Physics Research Center who was reportedly described during the IAEA briefing as the Iranian military official in charge of Iran's nuclear effort.

To buttress the grounds for its suspicion, the IAEA presented specific information showing that a company involved in uranium conversion was in touch with a team designing the inner cone of a missile re-entry vehicle that could, according to the Agency, “quite likely accommodate” a nuclear warhead. The IAEA wants Iran to explain documents and technical information that link Iran to the testing of high voltage detonator firing equipment, the development of exploding bridgewire detonators and an arrangement for underground, remote explosive testing. The Agency considers these activities to be “relevant to nuclear weapon R&D.”

The IAEA also wants clarification on Iran’s efforts to procure such potentially nuclear weapon-related items as spark gaps, shock wave software, neutron sources, corrosion resistant steel parts and radiation measurement equipment. These items might have been intended for use in interrelated studies on uranium conversion, high explosives testing and the design of a nuclear-capable missile re-entry vehicle.

Meanwhile, the Agency has managed to resolve, at least partially, a host of questions related to Iran’s past nuclear work that had been set out in the IAEA’s August 21, 2007 “work plan.” Questions about Iran’s past experiments with plutonium have already been resolved through the plan, as have questions about polonium-210 experiments and work at the Gchine mine and mill. However, the IAEA is still in the process of reviewing Iran’s illicit import of centrifuge equipment—an issue that was supposed to be resolved by the end of November 2007. In early November, Iran finally turned over a one-page document containing a 1987 offer from the network run by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. According to Iran, this is the only remaining evidence of the offer, which included supplying a disassembled P-1 centrifuge, centrifuge manufacturing specifications, blueprints for a “complete plant,” and materials to make 2,000 centrifuges. The offer also included auxiliary vacuum and electrical drive equipment, mechanical, electrical and electronic support equipment for the centrifuge plant, and a document on how to reduce UF6 to metal, and how to cast and machine enriched, natural and depleted uranium into “hemispherical forms.” Iran insists that it only received some components for two disassembled centrifuges along with supporting drawings and specifications.

After reviewing what the Agency described as “the limited documentation provided by Iran,” the IAEA concluded that its findings matched Iran’s statements about the 1987 acquisition of P-1 centrifuge technology. However, several questions about Iran’s early research and development work following this offer remain open, including the genesis of a 1993 offer of P-1 enrichment technology from the Khan network and the conditions under which Iran received a document on how to make hemispheres of uranium metal—an activity uniquely useful for bomb making.

As for the development of its more advanced centrifuge program, Iran is sticking to its unlikely story that after receiving a full set of drawings for Pakistan’s P-2 from the Khan network in 1996, during a meeting in Dubai, it conducted no work at all on the P-2 until 2002, and that it never received P-2 components. Iran has also insisted that it procured only a small number of magnets for the P-2. The IAEA was unable to substantiate evidence that Iran received 900 magnets from a foreign supplier during the period between 1996 and 2002 when Iran says it undertook no work on the P-2. As a result, the Agency has concluded its findings about Iran’s P-2 activities match Iran’s statements. Yet, Iran’s current pursuit of the IR-2 makes uncertainties about the program’s early development troubling. Even more troubling is the fact that the IAEA no longer receives information on centrifuge manufacturing, or access to workshops where components are made, thus forcing the Agency to rely on whatever information Iran chooses to share.

If all the issues set forth in the work plan are resolved, then the IAEA has agreed that nuclear inspections in Iran “will be conducted in a routine manner.” Dr. ElBaradei insists that the IAEA still requires that Iran once again allow the Agency to conduct enhanced inspections under the Additional Protocol, and that Iran suspend uranium enrichment and a heavy water project, as required by the Security Council—but nothing in the work plan requires Iran to do so.

Foreign assistance

Imports of nuclear-, chemical- and missile-related equipment have been indispensable to Iran’s weapon efforts. The latest report by the U.S. Director of Central Intelligence on transfers of mass destruction and advanced conventional weapon technology, which covers 2006, claims that Iran has continued to seek foreign assistance from entities in Russia, China, and North Korea. According to the report, China is Iran’s main conventional weapon supplier; Russia supplies Iran’s “civilian nuclear program”; and North Korean and Iran have “a longstanding relationship with respect to the purchase and development of ballistic missile technology.”

The nuclear smuggling network run by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan is believed to have been the main supplier to Iran’s centrifuge enrichment program. Speculation as to exactly what equipment and material Iran received has been the subject of numerous media reports since Libya renounced its mass destruction weapons and the Khan network was revealed as Libya’s primary supplier. The IAEA has already confirmed that the enrichment programs in Iran and Libya relied on the same technology obtained from the same foreign sources. And Iran’s P-2 centrifuge design is the same as the one found by the Agency in Libya. The P-1 centrifuges Iran has installed at Natanz are of an early European design, similar to the machines that have been under the control of the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in Pakistan. If Iran indeed received the same package of nuclear goods as did Libya, then it is possible that Iran received the same Chinese-origin bomb design. Iran may also have received more sophisticated nuclear weapon designs from the Khan network. Such designs were found on computers seized from Swiss nationals Friedrich, Marco and Urs Tinner. The Tinners were a known part of the Khan smuggling network and the designs found on their computers would reportedly require only 15 kilograms of highly enriched uranium and would be small enough to fit atop Iran’s medium-range Shahab-3 missile.

China has also provided key assistance to Iran’s nuclear effort. Chinese entities have helped Iran prospect for uranium, have sold UF6 ready for enrichment and have provided Iran with blueprints, equipment test reports, and equipment design information for its uranium conversion plant at Isfahan.

Russia’s main contribution is the 1,000 MW light-water power reactor it has been building at Bushehr. As of December 2005, 700 Iranian experts had completed training at Russia's Novovoronezh training center, which is run by the Russian nuclear power agency Rosenergoatom. The training included a theory course, work on a nuclear power unit simulator, and work at Russian nuclear power plants similar to the Bushehr reactor. The Iranian experts will continue their training at the Bushehr reactor itself. In addition to the reactor, Russian entities are alleged to have supplied laser equipment for uranium enrichment, know-how for heavy water reactors, and help with heavy water and nuclear-grade graphite production.

Iran has also sought dual-use nuclear technology from some members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an organization of 45 nuclear supplier countries.  According to the New York Times, seven NSG countries have denied Iran the purchase of nuclear-related materials at least 75 times, mostly since 2002. Iranian end users involved in these denied sales, according to the Times, include the government of Iran, the atomic energy organization, energy, engineering, aircraft and petrochemical companies, schools and universities, a plasma physics center, a helicopter support company and mineral research centers. Denied sales involved nickel powder, petrochemical plant components, compressors, furnaces, steel flanges and fittings, electron microscopes, radiometric ore-sorting machines, valves and tubing, lasers, a rotary drilling rig, a mass spectrometer and a nitrogen production plant.

China, Russia and North Korea have combined to supply Iran’s missiles. Iran’s 1,300 kilometer Shahab-3 missile is essentially an imported North Korean Nodong missile enhanced by Russian technology. It was distributed to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in June 2003 and has since been tested several times. And it is widely assumed that if Iran fields a Shahab-4 missile, it will be a copy of Russia’s SS-4 missile. Both the Nodong and the SS-4 can carry a nuclear warhead. In January 2007, Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov confirmed that Russia had delivered Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran. Iran has already tested the missiles and will use them to defend key nuclear sites. North Korea, in addition to selling the Nodong missile, has furnished Iran a fleet of SCUD-B and SCUD-C short-range missiles, plus the factories to make them. Both the SCUD-B and SCUD-C have a diameter sufficient to accommodate a compact nuclear warhead.

From China, Iran has imported the 150 kilometer CSS-8 ballistic missile and a series of land-, sea-, and air-launched short-range cruise missiles. Many of these latter are anti-ship weapons.

In addition, Grigory Omelchenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, revealed in early February 2005 that a former officer in Ukraine’s secret police sold six unarmed Soviet-era cruise missiles to Iran between 1999 and 2001. The nuclear-capable missile, known as the KH-55 or the AS-15, has a range of up to 3,000 km and travels near the ground in order to avoid air defenses.




This page provides information on entities - persons, companies, governments - that are thought to have supplied technology, equipment, material or expertise to Iran that would enhance Iran's ability to construct nuclear, chemical, biological or advanced conventional weapons or long-range missiles. 

The information presented here has been collected from sources the Wisconsin Project believes to be reliable; however, the Wisconsin Project does not guarantee full accuracy or completeness.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 04 August 2008 )
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