Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ballistic Missiles Not Part of Nuclear Talks - Iran

Iran’s defense minister, IRGC Brig. Gen. Hussein Dehqan, said today Tehran will not discuss its ballistic missiles as part of ongoing talks with world powers to reach a comprehensive agreement on its nuclear program.

“Iran’s missiles are not up for discussion under any circumstances,” Gen. Dehqan said. “Iran’s missiles are only our concern ... We don’t accept any intervention from anybody on this issue.” (Fars News Agency, 16 April)

Dehqan’s stand on the issue might become a problem when the negotiators focus their talks on lifting the UN Security Council’s sanctions against Iran. UNSC Resolution 1929 prohibits Iran from deploying ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The ban does not address specific types of missiles, but long-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles are designed to only carry nuclear warheads, which could form the basis of an agreement between the two sides on the issue.

Iran has a robust ballistic missile program; consisting of short and medium-range missiles whose ranges do not exceed 2,000 km. Iran considers them as its main deterrent force, capable of hitting Israel, Gulf Arab states, and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf.  

Iran nuclear talks will resume on 13 May in Vienna.

File photo: Iran's MRBM Shahab-3 (Satyar Emami/FNA)


Piruz Mollazadeh said...

These missiles better be worth all the trouble Iran has gone through to make them. Traveling 2,000 km to deliver anything short of The Father of All Bombs is a waste of resources.

Anonymous said...

Precisely. Accuracy must be a prime requirement for such long range assets devoid of nuclear or chemical/biological warheads. That is why the Iranian defense establishment over the last 5-8 years has made such ambition a top priority in its budget and has consequently put tremendous resources on improving its existing inventory of late Shahab and Ghadr variants rather than developing new designs such as the Seji-2 further.

There has been a notable shift in their doctrine in that regard, on this and the establishment of parallel development effort in the area of air defense. That certainly did not go unnoticed in western defense circles and notably the Pentagon, of which many public reports have repeatedly pointed out that reality since 2008. Chinese firms have been critical in providing Iran with the needed know-how, machinery and raw material to foster their efforts in that direction, and this probably for a catastrophically off-the-book high price, without even counting the many "commissions" that the IRGC brass usually grants itself in the process.

Anyhow, Uzi Rubin, former head from Israel's Arrow project recently asserted that current MRBMs in Iran's inventory have a CEP ranging from a few dozen to several hundred meters, versus a few kilometers a decade ago. Enough to cripple a country's vital infrastructure and major military targets like airbases and command centers in the opening hours of a war. Thus, sufficient to make an arsenal comprised of a few hundred of such weapons a quite credible deterrent to this day in the eyes of any of Iran's potentially hostile neighbors. Indeed a 1-ton High Explosive warhead crushing in its delivery zone at hyper-sonic terminal speeds packs quite a punch against any target.


Anonymous said...

"current MRBMs in Iran's inventory have a CEP ranging from a few dozen to several hundred meters, versus a few kilometers a decade ago. Enough to cripple a country's vital infrastructure and major military targets like airbases and command centers in the opening hours of a war. "

100 missiles with at best a few dozen meters of accuracy couldn't hit one building protected by patriots and arrows, even if all were fired against that building.

Anonymous said...

Piruz Mollazadeh April 16
Dont forget irans short range arsenal of missiles like the fateh 110,most of the us infrastructure in the gulf is within reach of these,and these missiles in addition to being available in large numbers are also highly accurate,they would likely be the first ones launched in any retaliatory strike.As for Resolution 1929,I imagine that iran like the dprk before it will simply ignore any resolution that seeks to try and put limits on its right to develop and deploy military and civilian rocket technology,by the same token if the west is truly serious about a nuclear deal it wont let something as insignificant as this put it at risk.

Anonymous said...

I am no expert on military affairs. However, I hear the gradual shift of doctrines from fighter aircraft to drones and increasingly use of missiles. The argument for fighter aircraft to drones is that they are fixed life, expensive items that have a human or two to operate and far more expensive to operate, maintain and upgrade. In contrast, drones are far cheaper and more adaptable without the risk of loss of pilots etc. I don’t know the pricing but I guess one fighter aircraft will have the same price tag as hundreds of drones. With regard to missiles my argument is that if the target is fixed or slow moving such as airbase or aircraft carrier, then you might as well through few missiles with reasonable accuracy and rely on the laws of probability that you will have a reasonable chance of success against a pre-determined target. For example, how many missiles will take to get rid of bases in Bahrain. Also you may be better off destroying the water storage and desalination plants. I mean all these countries lack strategic depth to withstand sustained attacks. Besides most of their infra-structure are run by expats that will run for exit at earliest sign of conflict. The history shows that. When Iran attacked Iraq’s Osirak reactor, all the French technicians left the place. On the other hand attacking Iran requires sustainability. No Western nation bar US has such capability and again on the basis of cost/benefit analysis they will come to some compromise with Iran. The experience in Georgia and Ukraine has shown this.

Anonymous said...

AnonymousApril 16, 2014 at 2:23 PM,

I'd rather say less than 40 F-16Is armed in an air-to-ground configuration (the maximum number the IDF has been deemed able to project on top of an equivalent number of escort in the air-to-air role) will hardly be capable of dealing any credible damage to targets situated in protected bunkers with smart concrete, deep into Iranian airspace and protected by both air defense nets and air defense squadrons operating close to their home bases and thus not having the issue of fuel shortage or heavy payload to consider when maneuvering against them and having full GCI support in their task. That are only a number of publicly known reasons why two attempts by Netanyahu at going it alone in the past two years were rebuffed by the Israeli military top brass already.

But still, to address your point :

1 - Depending on the source publicly available, Iran has anywhere between 500 to 1000 MRBMs, including public Pentagon sessions. Many folds greater than your 100 figure. Add close to 1000s of these if we take into account its much larger (and more accurate) arsenal of SRBMs such as the Fateh-110 with this time a demonstrated ability at hitting target with precision under the 50m CEP, operational record in Syria included as a testimony, and those were export, degraded versions. Targets in close proximity in reach of the 300 km range Fateh include dozens of US bases, vital petrochemical industry in major GCC countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The only probable future foe outside of that category of missile would be Israel. But the same factor limits its ability to strike Iran in return as explained above.

2 - There is no demonstrated ability for the MIM-104 Patriot to deal with massive barrage of MRBMs and/or SRBMs in combat situation but rather controlled scenarios in which no more than a couple legacy Scuds and a single cruise missile were fired, the source for many complaints going as high of Congressmen unconvinced of maintaining such gigantic funding despite lack of clear evidence of the system's effectiveness. Last time we heard of the Patriot in wartime its theoretical accuracy fell below 1%, it was in 1991, and they coundl'nt adapt with Saddam missile suddently changing trajectory in the terminal phase because of regular missile breakup occuring in badly modified missiles. Now of course ABM systems by then were limited, but so were the ballistic missiles, their 3 kilometer CEP , relatively low speed, and lighter unitary warhead.

3 - There is nowhere near enough of expensive and hard to maintain Patriot batteries deployed today to protect every single vital asset the US/GCC have in vicinity of Iran with so many missile as to render Iranian strikes useless. At most there is a couple hundred in Saudi Arabia and close to that number in Qatar. In any one-on-one engagement and a determined Iranian missile strike against one of those, infrastructure will start to fall and runways will be cratered.

Basically your hypothesis asserts that Israel's arrow system are no less than something like 80% accurate, an estimation not even shared nor expressed by its makers to this day.


Yossarian said...

"100 missiles with at best a few dozen meters of accuracy couldn't hit one building protected by patriots and arrows, even if all were fired against that building."

Both systems would become saturated with anything more than 20 targets inbound at a time + there are a limited number of AAA missiles + Iranian missiles utilize decoys.

In other words, you have no clue what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Knocking out the Iranian nuclear venture.

Anonymous said...

Israel could not successfully defend its territory against a full Iranian missile attack and Israel would sustain damage.

of course, the Israelis could reply by turning Tehran into a flattened cinder, but probably wouldn't do more than destroying a few hundred vital army bases, electricity generating plants, sea ports, oil and gas fields, bridges, manufacturing plants, and most every facility owned and controlled by the IRGC, the office of the Supreme Leader and maybe even Khomeini's tomb.

Anonymous said...

AnonymousApril 16, 2014 at 2:23 PM,

if it was so, it would mean zero value for Iran's missile arsenal as a strategic deterrent, and we would have seen dozens of hit & run air operations by Israel let alone the US by now, on the country's nuclear sites. They've been doing so do for every single other country of their choosing in the middle east for decades every now and then whenever some development doesn't suit their vision in the region and I doubt they refrain from doing the same on Iran out of love for the Iranian people. And you wouldn't be seeing them vigorously try to curtail Iran's ballistic program by attempting to tie it to nuclear talks or through their aggressive enforcement of the NPR specifically against Iran since the mid 90s.

Anonymous said...

Considering by their own admission that they cannot project enough forces to even try to deal with half a dozen key nuclear sites successfully let alone if we take into account possible losses, how are they supposed to be able to "turn Tehran into a flattened cinder" short of using nuclear weapons on a non-nuclear armed state ? Could you at least on a theoretical level tell us how 80 F-16 planes running on their last drop of fuel on the trip to Iran would be able to inflict such catastrophic damage to "hundreds of vital army bases" ? they cannot even embark with so many bombs under their F-15/F-16Is bellies man, get real : do you realize how many targets you're talking about in a 1,6km² country, how spread they are, how well-defended they are ?

Side question : are you trying to be ridiculous here ?

In turn I guess considering Iran's ballistic capabilities, it is rather Israel and its virtually non-existent strategic depth that would take a drastic challenge in sustaining damage to its few and concentrated vital infrastructure such as "electricity generating plants, sea ports, oil and gas fields, bridges, manufacturing plants". For instance: What would happen to their sole exposed nuclear site "Dimona" if targeted by a hundred missiles consisting in a mixture of decoys and actual warhead ? Iran has hundreds and even more if we count the decoy and cluster munitions. Have you genius thought of this too ?

Bear in mind that every single piece of industrial sites in this tiny country are located around one or two major population centers in a space 1/80th of Iran and yet we see you talking big with laughable empty and baseless claims on the probable outcomes of a full-on shooting war with the latter. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

A very informative article that complemented a lot of my personal knowledge on the issue. Thanks for sharing.

Bottom line from the article is basically, imho : politically risky though technically feasible for the US within the framework of a large attack force using considerable capabilities and exposed to regional escalation, and a very ambitious and never-seen-before kind of operation for the IDF that has yet to demonstrate its ability to pull such an undertaking considering Iran's IADS even with its current weaknesses and the strike egress routes at its disposal. One very interesting point that the article makes is that even for an attack solely concentrated on a single nuclear site such as Bushehr, a more than signification portion of the IDF would already have to be mobilized all at once.

We should definitely pass the article to Anon 1:46AM and his dream of Israelis destroying thousands of Iranian bases and infrastructure if they every wished to. It would probably make wonders in reconciling his views with reality. Or dismiss ACIG as a pro-Iran propaganda site, which would make me laugh even harder at him than I currently do, though I would personally enjoy seeing Khomeini's tomb get blown up in the sky high, I admit :-)

Anonymous said...

Everytime this regime is under pressure they cover their weakness by firing their missiles.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:52 AM

Are you '-A' yourself ?

Anonymous said...

There is only one Regimne in this world and that is Israel... Iran has a Government.

Nader Uskowi said...

The Islamic Republic calls its own governing system, "Nezam." Although it’s literally translated as system, but politically it’s the closest term to regime, as in a democratic regime.