Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two Observations on Great Prophet IV

Sejil-2 Launch Coverage::
It was interesting to note that the latest declared Sejil-2 launch appears to have lacked on-the-spot media coverage, in terms of photography and video. Instead, the now common sight of the Shahab-3 was selected for Iran state media to cover in detail.

Photos have appeared on military forum boards purporting the latest Sejil-2 launch, but cannot be verified. Below are some grainy examples:Two new photos of better quality have recently arisen, and can be found at MRBMs of Great Prophet IV.

It's possible that security concerns prevented photography and video of the latest claimed Sejil-2 launch. Given the sensitive issue of Iranian ballistic missile technology, as well as a desire for secrecy, this may have had something to do with the limited level of media coverage afforded to the claimed Sejil launch.

A More Accurate Translation of General Salami's Speech:The USG Open Source Center translated remarks to Iranian television of General Hossein Salami, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force concerning Iran's Monday missile tests (Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN), Monday, September 28, 2009):

Gen. Salami said, "as long as our enemies act within a political domain, our behavior will be completely political. However, if they want to leave the domain of political action and enter the domain of military threat, then our action will be exactly and completely military." . . .

'Salami said the strategic objective in staging the war game was "to demonstrate the Iranian nation's resolution in defending revolutionary and national values and ideals as well as to make a new attempt to upgrade the level and quality of the Islamic Republic's deterrence against any probable threat given the current political and international atmosphere."

Note: This translation offers a far less bellicose sounding speech from IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami, than current reporting by the mainstream media. The General's statements can be interpreted as rational, given prevailing Western rhetoric.

According to Professor Juan Cole:
Many Western media reports implied that the missile tests were launched along with threats to wipe out Israel. But note that the commanding officer overseeing them explicitly restated Iran's "no first strike" pledge. To my knowledge, no current high official in the Iranian executive has threatened war against Israel, which in any case would be foolhardy given Israel's nuclear arsenal. [emphasis added] Iranian officials do say they hope the "Zionist regime" will collapse as the Soviet Union did.

Salami linked the tests strongly to Iran's defensive needs and pointed out they came before the anniversary of Iraq's 1980 attack on Iran, which kicked off a highly destructive 8-year war that killed on the order of 250,000 Iranians. (The United States supported Iraq in that war.) The trauma of being invaded by a rapacious enemy at a moment of national weakness after the 1979 revolution has deeply informed Iranian political leaders' views of the world ever since.

H/T Juan Cole at Informed Comment


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