The World Tribune


Iran's Shihab missile has changed Middle East

Special to World

Monday, March 15, 1999

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- Iran's Shihab-3 intermediate range missile has significantly changed the strategic balance in the Middle East, a senior U.S. official says.

Jacques S. Gansler, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, told the Senate Armed Services strategic subcommittee on Thursday, that Iran's Shihab-3 has gone far beyond the planning stage. He said the test of the Shihab in July proves that the missile has become a genuine threat.

"We are dealing with a real threat that is with us now," Gansler said. "With a range of 1,300 kilometers, the Shihab 3 significantly alters the military equation in the Middle East by giving Tehran the capability to strike targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and most of Turkey. Among those countries seeking longer-range missiles, North Korea is the most advanced: a judgement underscored by the recent launch of the Taepo Dong-1."

Gansler said the United States regards Iran as already possessing a missile with a range that could strike Israel, and the Gulf states. His assertion countered that of Pentagon officials who had said Teheran was still a long way off from completing development of the Shihab-3.

Gansler said the United States is funding a program to operate the Israeli Arrow anti-missile system together with U.S. missile defense systems, such as the Patriot. He said the Clinton administration has allocated $120 million in the fiscal 1999 budget over the next years for developing hardware, software and procedures "to establish some level of interoperability between Arrow and the Patriot systems."

Monday, March 15, 1999

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