Iran accounts for 5% of world oil production. As long as cars run on gasoline Iran won’t be strapped for cash and can self finance the research and development costs for weapons of mass destruction.
In the article we analyzed Iran’s objectives in the areas of foreign policy and security.
Obtaining political ascendancy over the other countries in the region and buttressing her status as a regional power;
Spreading Islam, according to Muslim tradition, throughout the world;
Augmenting active and deterrent defense against the many threats which are directed towards her.
According to the declarations of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, and her supreme ruler, Ali Sayyid Khamanei, we can derive that the extermination of Israel is Iran’s fourth objective.
In this article, I will attempt to provide an idea of Iran’s military capabilities and the areas where she presently constitutes a tangible threat to the State of Israel.
A Large Military Force
The four objectives which we discussed in the previous article induced Iran to begin a massive armaments buildup ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The process accelerated greatly following the results of the Iran-Iraq War, as in the aftermath of that war, Iran’s status as a regional power was definitely undermined.
Iran maintains an army, which is in effect the largest and most powerful in the Middle East, according to accepted criteria: the budgets invested in it, the quantity of soldiers who serve in it, and its firepower. The criteria according to which it is customary to define the IDF as the most powerful army in the world, or at least in the region, pertain to the statistics of strategic victories in relation to the size and power of the army, which are measured according to those same objective parameters via which we can determine that the Iranian army is the most powerful army in the region. The Iranian military force is composed of 14 land divisions and 15 Air Force squadrons.
The Iranian navy totals 170 vessels, including frigates, corvettes, missile boats and three submarines. Despite the importance of the Navy for establishing hegemony on the order of a superpower in the Gulf, it is possible that the Iranian Navy constitutes the Achilles Heel of the Iranian army in particular, and of the Iranian plan to become the solitary power in the Middle East in general.
Research and Development for Mass Destruction
There are many countries throughout the world who maintain weapons of mass destruction. Many other countries would like to put their hands on weaponry which can pose a threat but are incapable of taking any significant steps in that direction. There are a few countries that can really take tangible steps towards obtaining weapons of this type, and upon them, the West, headed by the United States applies severe pressure.
An example of this is Libya’s climb down from such attempts. Libya which observed what was being done to Afghanistan and Iraq, decided to raise her hands in surrender before the West would knock at her gates and drew back from her plans to obtain weapons of mass destruction. An additional example is North Korea, the single country in the world that still adopts a militant Communist line. North Korea’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons repeatedly provoke commercial sanctions against her.
What typifies Iran in the area of weapons of mass destruction in general and nuclear weapons in particular, is that it constitutes the only state that possesses the capability to fiscally contend with all aspects pertaining to the production of weapons of mass destruction. Iran produces 5% of the world’s oil consumption, and as long as the world still travels on gasoline, she will not lack for cash in her coffers, and will prove capable of financing by herself, without any outside assistance, the research and development requisite for producing weapons of mass destruction.
In the diplomatic arena, Iran enjoys unusual immunity. A large portion of Iran’s conventional arsenal was built in Russia and China, and was paid for there in cash. Additionally, the nuclear reactor in Busheir, which is supposed to be operational in the next few months, is the product of an agreement signed between Iran and Russia in 1995. According to the deal, Russia will complete the construction of the reactor within a decade, and in tandem will provide large quantities of nuclear fuel, in return for $ 830 million which Iran will transfer to Russia. The defense industries, of both Russia and China, require Iranian money like air to breathe.
Iran’s ramified ties in this sphere with Russia and China, two very important countries in the UN, have paved Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. These countries are fighting the necessary battles on Iran’s behalf to prevent the imposition of sanctions that would really pester her existence. In this context, Mohammed el-Baradei and his associates– who were sent by the United Nations to supervise the Iranian nuclear program, and ensure that it would be intended exclusively for civilian (electricity etc.) purposes — have become a fraud. Iran is not afraid of the UN and her nuclear program always regarded the production of electricity and civilian purposes as a secondary objective, if at all.
As of 1999, Iran employs over 10,000 Russian nuclear engineers. Let it be said in Russia’s defense that those engineers chose to work in Iran, simply for the reason that after the fall of the Iron Curtain they do not have many potential employers. If the matter depended on the Russian Government, they would have preferred that as few Russian citizens as possible be dependent upon Iran.
The Iranian arsenal also comprises biological and chemical weapons. Intelligence sources, both Israeli and foreign, contend that to this date Iran has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world. These stockpiles include “materials that cause burns, asphyxiation and blood and nerve agents”, contends Sean Pine, in his article in the periodical “Nativ” (the January 2003 issue). Iran’s research projects in this sphere of chemical weapons are as ambitious as her plans in the sphere of nuclear weapons.
Western intelligence reports on a deal that can take shape between Iran and China, under which China will provide Iran with components that will allow her to be an independent producer of chemical weapons. Such a situation, if it should obtain, will allow Iran to export chemical weapons, whose signature is much lower and whose portability is much higher and smoother than that of nuclear weapons. The repercussions can be destructive, as in a chemical attack on a central Israeli city that will be perpetrated by the Hamas or one of the sundry terror organizations sheltering under its authority.
Iran conducts independent research, in the sphere of biological weaponry as well, despite the fact that this realm is much less developed than the chemical and nuclear spheres. According to reports from various sources, Iran is the only country of means which conducts active research in this sphere. Another hostile body which conducts research in this field, despite the fact that one could hardly call it a state, is the global terror organization Al-Qaeda. The publications state that Iran retains stocks of dangerous biological weapons, such as ricin and anthrax.
Iran is the most advanced country in the field of research and development in ballistic missiles. Iran’s most useful piece of missile development is the “Shihab 3” with a range of up to 1500 km, the import of this range is that it can hit any point in Israel and some strategic American targets in Southeast Turkey and in Saudi Arabia.
The development of the Shihab three began already during the year 1992. The first test was performed in 1998, and opinions are divided whether it was a success or not. However, this discussion is not really salient in view of the fact that tests which were conducted recently on the Shihab 3 were highly successful, and this missile is today the star of the Iranian ballistic system. It’s customary to believe that the Shihab 3 is a product of independent Iranian research and development, but in reality we are dealing with a missile that was based on a North Korean missile.
While deploying the Shihab 3, Iran is busy developing the Shihab 4, a missile that is based on technologies that were used in Soviet missiles. The Shihab 4 will have a range of 2000 km and will cover all of Turkey and parts of Greece.
The Shihab 5 is in the preliminary development stages. Its maximal range according to intelligence sources, will be 5600 km, in other words it will constitute a real threat to central Europe.
Isolated intelligence sources report the development of the Shihab 6, with a range of 10,000 km and an ability to threaten the Eastern United States.
Additionally, Iran disposes of a system of short and intermediate range ballistic missiles, whose purpose is to defend Iran’s borders against her neighbors (such as Uzbekistan). However, one must take into account the threat implicit in the fall of the Hashemite Regime in Jordan. In such an eventuality, it’s possible that these missiles will easily find their way into the hands of Hamas on the West Bank, and will constitute a real threat to Israel.
A Huge and Unavoidable Military Force
To sum up the matter, Iran presently maintains an unprecedentedly powerful army. It is capable of declaring full scale war against Israel, and to constitute an equal and disciplined foe against an American invasion of Iran’s soil, should that occur.
Iran’s nuclear weapons buildup is apparently unavoidable. From the moment it has a nuclear bomb in its possession Iran will be capable of launching it against us. However, due to Israel’s “second strike” capability — the launching of a nuclear bomb from Israel towards Iran, in an immediate and automatic fashion should Iran launch a bomb against us — will apparently prevent the initiation of war in this manner. Even if Iran does not refrain and decides to launch the bomb as a declaration of war, it is plausible to assume that it will not succeed in destroying Israel although it could cause her unprecedented damage.