September 25, 2007:
Iran recently announced a new
IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile), Ghadr, based on the existing
Shahab 3 missile. The Ghadr was shown off at a recent parade. This missile is
basically 1960s technology, with the addition of GPS guidance. Russian and
North Korean missile technology has been obtained to make the Shahab 3/Ghadr
work. This has resulted in a missile that apparently will function properly
about 80 percent of the time, and deliver a warhead of about one ton, to a
range of some 1,300 kilometers (for
Shahab 3), to within a hundred meters of where it was aimed. By world
standards, this is a pretty effective weapon.
Iran is believed to have been building Shahab 3s
since 2004, even though they continue to refine the design, and conduct test
firings. Iran is believed to have 50-100 Shahab 3s, and is building about one a
month. There are indications that production has increased to as many as 7-8 a
month. Israel appears to be the main target. Iran has threatened Israel with
destruction, rather openly of late. Shahab 3's could be fired with high explosive
warheads, and hit, with enough accuracy, to kill mostly Jews, and not Israeli
Arabs or Palestinians. Iran also has chemical (nerve gas) warheads, and Israel
has threatened nuclear retaliation if they get hit by chemical warheads.
Ghadr has been in the works for several years. It
has a longer (1,800 kilometers) range, and can be readied for launch in less
than an hour, rather than several hours for the Shahab 3. There have been
several well observed (by foreign intel agencies) tests in the last year or so.
Thus Ghadr was no surprise for the pros.