Iran is progressing at alarming speed
In late 2007, Iran tested a new modified Shahab-3 based ballistic missile known as Ghadr-1. Key elements of the Ghadr were:
- An improved cone / warhead housing capable of multiple warhead delivery per missile.
- 2 stages, a liquid fueled booster with a solid rocket fuel second stage.
- Domestically produced.
At the time I thought that this was going to be the mass production version of Iran’s new missile fleet personally. They had already made such big advancements in the Ghadr compared to the Shahabs, it seemed likely that this entirely domestically produced weapon would be a huge step up and fit Iran’s needs nicely. The addition of the solid rocket fueled top most stage and new cone design would enable the Iranian rocket to carry WMD, which is clearly the goal of Iran’s Nuclear Program – Nuclear Weapons.
- Iranian Ghadr-1 on its 1st public display in Iran (AFP)
Iran successfully tests the Sejil-2 this past week
In late 2008, a mere year later Iran tested the Sejil class of missile. The Sejil is an advanced Ghadr, instead of a liquid fueled base stage the new missile featured two full stages powered by solid rocket fuels. Eliminating the liquid fuel entirely was another huge step. Volatile, unstable, and requiring on site fueling before any launch the graduation from liquid to solid fuel severely ups the ante and threat level of Iranian missiles. Enabling Iran to mass produce, fuel, and safely store vast swaths of nuclear capable long range missiles for protected launches from underground silos, or mobile launching on truck platforms. Equally troubling, the switch allows for faster more stable missile flights.
Mere months later, now in May 2009 Iran again tested a new missile. Reasons this recent test is all the more provocative include;
- Further advances in sensors / guidance for accuracy.
- The culmination of Iran’s drive for a domestically procurable multi stage solid fuel ballistic missile that can be nuclear capable, all produced start to finish within Iran.
- Joint mockery along with the North Koreans of the President of the United States, and his engagement with rogue regime theories.
- The push to out-pace Missile Defense.
Video of Iran’s Latest Ballistic Missile Test – Sejil2
What alarms me and should engender the same reaction in others is that the Ghadr was well suited for production it seemed. It met the basic needs of Iran for a new superior ballistic missile capable of being mass produced in Iran, a substantial upgrade in every way over their existing missile fleet. Instead, it was only a step along the way to a much more accurate, much faster, and more capable delivery system. This suggests to me that the Iranians don’t seek to deter as much as they seek to eventually do ‘serious damage’ with their missiles and WMD. Instead of racing to build, they raced to make the threat substantially more lethal.
Equally alarming, the pace. Iran is simply put racing ahead. At this rate CIA & Pentagon estimates for the Iranian Missile threats are SERIOUSLY themselves obsolete. I am sorry to say this, but as usual the US intelligence community will seemingly be again ‘surprised’ when they come to grips with how radically off base they are in regards to time-frames and these threats. Iran has in the last year achieved space launch, solid fuel boosters, enhanced accuracy & range which puts these missiles beyond Israel and into Europe, and is now arguably fine tuning an ability to defeat US & Israeli based missile defense platforms with this new Sejil-2 due to its speed and multiple warheads.
President is badly advised & mistaken
American estimates regarding a domestic threat posed by Iranian missiles originally looking at 2025 were narrowed to earliest 2015 by generals at the Pentagon, that’s quite a jump. It means American estimates were a full decade off, by off we mean WRONG. But even this 2015 date now seems conservative. At the rate they are progressing and the crystal clear proliferation path going on between North Korea & Iran, ICBMs from these rogue regimes will very shortly pose a substantial nuclear weapons threat to the world, including American cities.
Further, this habit of being wrong as exhibited by other ‘surprises’ like underground nuclear weapons tests this week, admittedly erroneous Nation Intelligence Estimates for both Iraq, and now also in 2007 regarding Iran’s nuclear program, lead one to naturally assume the odds of America being surprised & wrong again regarding Iranian nuclear weapons capability are also quite high, meaning it could surprise America much faster than is currently thought, estimates which are more in line with Israeli intelligence.
One might think that in light of these realities, in light of the fact that it is now very questionable whether American or Israeli deployed missile defense platforms could currently without advancement themselves counter these faster, more accurate, multiple warhead, mass produce-able, solid rocket missiles – Someone might wake up?
Combined with the speed & pace of Iranian progression and the abysmal track record of western intelligence, one wonders why the President of the United States, his entire administration, and his democratic allies in the US House & Senate are all sitting on their asses & taking their sweet time doing little to nothing? No deadlines, no pressure, no sanctions, missile defense cuts, appeasement – I like many others am wondering what world exactly is President Obama living in, because it is certainly not the real world..
Ed looks at former Sec Def William Cohen, who himself is scratching his head wondering why multiple kill (a counter to multiple warhead missiles) and other missile defense technologies are being cut in Obama’s multi trillion dollar budgets?! Ed himself is focused on Noko tests and launches in the post, but the emphasis on rogue regimes is clear, these Iranian missiles are developed, built & tested based on N. Korean proliferation technology.
In the face of Pyongyang’s intransigence, we should be escalating our missile-defense research and deployment, and make a big show of it. We should take shots at the next missile Kim launches to make the point; [...]
Indeed, yet somehow I can’t shake the feeling that in this administration there is a higher likelihood we will shortly settle the outer galaxy, than see a US missile defense launch against a rogue regime live test target. Seems like we will have to settle for sending out poor Mrs. Clinton to the podium to make a few short statements in angry diplospeak, couched in calls to return to six party talks. This hardly instills much confidence in America’s allies abroad, I can’t imagine it being any more comforting to Americans themselves.
Israel's Arrow-2 ABM
I should add that the hundred million dollars funding package for Israel’s continued Arrow-3 development has been approved by the USA in its current budget framework, maybe jointly we can come up with a more ‘rigorous’ response to these growing threats, one at least hopes.. As mentioned, we will all require advancements in our current systems & software to challenge & out-pace these newest missiles.