Introduction — August 19, 2013
In terms of the sheer numbers of projectiles Iran may be the world’s 6th missile power but that doesn’t take into account the range and sophistication of its projectiles, and by that standard Iran is not the world’s 6th leading missile power.
However, if we take Vahidi’s claim as an indication of just how many missiles Iran has at its disposal then it’s a different story.
Counting only those medium range missiles that could hit Israel or U.S. bases in the region, then Iran could easily possess several hundred, and maybe many more.
Considering that Iran has been manufacturing the Shahab-3 since 2003 this is probably not an over-estimation. Since then Iran has unveiled other medium-range ballistic missiles which have gone into production, including the Ghadr-110, the Ashoura and the Sejjil. Each of these missiles is an improvement on the Shahab-3 in terms of range, sophistication and accuracy; with the last missile to be unveiled, the Sejjil going into full production in 2008.
If only one of each of these missiles was produced every month it still means that the Islamic Republic could possess in excess of one thousand missiles with which to target Israel and U.S. bases in the region.
Even without nuclear warheads, using conventional high explosives alone that’s enough to obliterate most of those bases and devastate much of Israel too.
Of course in a U.S. led first strike on Iran many of these missiles would be targeted and taken out. Not all though because Iran has at least 20 mobile missile launchers and an unknown number of subterranean missile silos, which would prove difficult to detect.
This also assumes that U.S. aircraft could successfully evade Iranian air defences, an element of its military that it has been steadily building up since it first witnessed the role of Western air supremacy during the Gulf War and again during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In both conflicts Western air power was decisive and Iran has consequently redoubled its efforts to counter it: developing a number of long-range radar systems and surface-to-air missiles.
Whatever happens Iran won’t be another Iraq and Obama knows this, which may explain his apparent reluctant to directly confront it militarily.
Iran’s ex-defese minister claims country is world’s 6th missile power
Associated Press — August 18, 2013
Iran’s former defense minister says his country is ranked sixth in the world in missile production.
The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi on Sunday as saying that Iran reached this level of manufacturing by “attaining domestic technology for building solid fuel missiles, as well as designing and manufacturing surface-to-surface long-range missiles.”
Vahidi also claimed that Iran is first in the Middle East in missiles production. He gave no specific figures.
Iran occasionally announces military achievements that cannot be independently verified.
Some of Iran’s surface-to-surface missiles are estimated to be capable of hitting Israel and the U.S. bases in the region. Both countries have not ruled out a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Tehran denies it seeks to make atomic weapons.