A leading Israeli think tank says Russia has been supplying technology for Iran’s missile and space programs.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in a report authored by U.S. analyst Ariel Cohen, said Moscow has sold missile and space components, and services designed for long-range weapons.
“Russian technological aid is evident throughout the Iranian missile and space programs,” the report, titled “The Russian Handicap to U.S. Iran Policy,” said. “Russian scientists and expertise have played a direct and indirect role in these programs for years.”
In February 2008, the Tehran regime launched what it termed an SLV titled Explorer-1 from a new space center in northern Iran. The report identified the SLV as a variant of the single-stage Soviet SS-4 intermediate-range ballistic missile.
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“It is probable that this new missile (Explorer-1) was none other than the Shahab-4, which is likely based on technology transferred by Russia,” the report said.
The report said Russian specialists were believed to be helping Iran develop the longer-range Shahab-5. At the same time, Moscow has exported missile-production facilities, technical documents as well as fuel to Iran.
“Iran and North Korea are cooperating in developing missile technology, and Russia may be facilitating technology transfers between the two,” the report said.”
For example, the Shahab-5 is based on the Taepodong-2, first developed by North Korea and now being used by Iran with Russian help.
The launch of the new North Korean space vehicle on April 4 could give insight into Iranian capabilities.
Mr. Cohen, regarded as a leading U.S. analyst on Russia, said Moscow has deemed Iran a partner in efforts to undermine U.S. influence around the world. He said the Kremlin was encouraging Iran’s missile and weapons of mass destruction program in an effort to erode U.S. deterrence and disrupt NATO.
“The Kremlin sees Iran not as a threat but as a partner or an ad-hoc ally to challenge U.S. influence,” the report said. “It also sees Iran as a key platform to expand its regional and international influence. While the Iranian agenda is clearly separate from that of Russia, the Kremlin uses Iran as a geopolitical battering ram against the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf region and the Middle East.”
Consequently, Russian support for Iran’s nuclear program and for arms sales reflects an agenda dating back to the Cold War.
The report said the next Russian strategic deal with Iran could be the delivery of the advanced S-300 long-range air defense system.
Mr. Cohen said delivery of the S-300, which could be imminent, would change the strategic balance in the Middle East and enable Tehran to fire nuclear missiles toward Israel.
“Once Iran has air defenses to repel Israeli or American air strikes and nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles – and sources indicate that this may occur sooner rather than later – it will possess the capacity to destroy Israel, an openly stated goal of the regime, and strike targets throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and the Indian subcontinent,” the report said. “Beyond that, if and when an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capability is achieved, Tehran will be able to threaten the U.S. homeland directly. The choice then will become starkly resembling [of] the early Cold War: deter or pre-empt.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org