Sunday, December 2, 2007

U.S. reaction to the Ashoura

As already predicted, it did not take long, before the U.S. reaction to the new Iranian Ashoura missile was made public. MDA Director Lt. General Obering said that the Iran’s unbridled, continuing development of missiles raises concerns and that is why it's important to begin now on a European missile defense. He continued that the Ashoura “is different, that's what surprises us." He qualified the new missile as an qualitative improvement in Iran’s capabilities.

The Aviation Week reports that the Defense Department has long been projecting Iranian ballistic missiles to achieve a range of 2,000 km, but it was expected to be through upgrades of the long-known Shahab-3.

One proposal in the U.S.-Russian dispute over the European sites of the missile defense system is that the sites would not become operational until a clear threat from Iran emerged. One trigger could be flight-testing of an advanced ballistic missile. In this context the Ashoura missile raises an interesting question: does this “surprisingly” new missile already qualify as advanced so that a flight-test would serve as trigger to operationalize the European sites? It would be very interesting to hear official statements on this question.

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