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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
[Mistaken working assumption?] Congressional Research Service on Irans Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

When the Congressional Research Service prepares a report for Congress about
Iranian activities and discusses what may be driving the Iranian programs,
they do not even entertain the possibility that Iran may be driven by the
religious desire to bring about the return of the Mahdi via the creation of
apocalyptic conditions.

Instead the discussion is limited to explanations (see below) that via
Iranian capabilities only as some form of deterrence.

Ignoring the theological motive can lead to dangerously wrong policy making
by radically reducing the perceived danger associated with allowing Iranian
to get nukes.

After all, if the only reason Iran wants nukes is to deter attacks against
it, Iranian nukes wouldn't really be a threat as long as Iran wasn't
threatened by attack.]

Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs
Steven A. Hildreth
Specialist in Missile Defense
December 6, 2012
CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Congressional Research Service
7-5700 www.crs.gov R42849
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R42849.pdf
...
Iran is developing and producing medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM)
capabilities with ranges estimated up to about 2,000 kilometers (with some
non-U.S. government sources citing slightly higher ranges), sufficient to
strike targets throughout the Middle East. U.S. intelligence assessments
state such missiles are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Although the number of Iran’s MRBMs is thought to be relatively small by
official U.S. estimates, it is expected to continue to build more capable
MRBMs. Iran views these missiles as an important deterrent and retaliatory
force against U.S. and other forces in the region in the event of war.
...

Context and Historical Background

Iran’s interest in developing ballistic missiles can be traced back to the
1960s and can be tied to its regional security interests even before the
Islamic Revolution in 1979. In general, the U.S. intelligence community has
publicly stated that it believes Iran’s overall approach to its
international affairs “will remain relatively constant and will continue to
be driven by longstanding priorities of preserving the Islamic regime,
safeguarding Iran’s sovereignty, defending its nuclear ambitions, and
expanding its influence in the region and the Islamic world.”44 Similarly,
the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) stated the strategic objectives of
Iran’s leadership are “first and foremost, regime survival; making Iran the
preeminent ...

Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle
East and it continues to expand the scale, reach and sophistication of its
ballistic missile forces – many of which are inherently capable of carrying
a nuclear payload….Tehran views its conventionally armed missiles as an
integral part of its strategy to deter – and if necessary retaliate
against – forces in the region. Its ballistic missiles are inherently
capable of delivering WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), and if so armed,
would fit into this same strategy.46

...

Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBMs)

Iran has invested for several decades in an organized and well-planned
effort to acquire, develop, test and deploy MRBMs capable of striking
targets throughout the Middle East. Iran views these missiles as a deterrent
to any military action that might be taken against it and has said that it
can now target about three dozen U.S. bases throughout the region. Some
number of these missiles may be housed or deployed in underground bunkers or
silo-like structures. The United States and others have long maintained that
Iranian MRBMs are inherently capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

.....

Iran has demonstrated its willingness over decades to pursue the
development, testing, acquisition and deployment of ballistic missiles as an
essential part of its regional war fighting, deterrent and retaliatory
capability. A determined adversary such as Iran has not shown that it is
deterred or dissuaded by U.S. conventional military superiority, or by U.S.
and international sanctions, or by the deployment of U.S. BMD capabilities.

Iran has similarly demonstrated resolve and commitment to a genuine space
launch program as a matter of national pride and self-sufficiency in space
in the face of widespread international condemnation. Just as every other
space faring nation, however, Iran too will use space for a range of
military purposes, such as for reconnaissance and communications.

66

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