Friday, November 07, 2003

Shahab-4 we hardly knew ye

Does this just mean they will buy their missiles from North Korea?

Iran will abandon development of a missile that could have carried a conventional warhead as far as Europe or threatened Israel with a heavier nuclear or biological payload, the Iranian government announced.

The declaration that it would not manufacture the Shahab-4 missile came less than three weeks after Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities and open its mostly secret nuclear program to short-notice inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


Anthony H. Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said development of the Shahab-4 had not reached the point of mass production. The Shahab-4, he said, "in a lot of ways is a paper missile," in that it existed mainly in frame designs and possibly engine components.

Cordesman said the announcement that work on the missile was being scrapped appeared to indicate that Iran's usually divided government continues to speak with one voice. But he warned that "it doesn't meant this is something that's permanent." The missile's development could continue secretly, he said, just as a program aimed at producing atomic weapons could conceivably elude inspectors.

I guess that's good news, but it's not as though Iran has never lied before. For example, Iran claimed that no Al-Qaeda were in Iran...

Iran's government reacted angrily to a report that elements within the Islamic regime were harbouring senior members of al-Qaeda, dismissing the allegation as an "absolute lie: and challenging foreign intelligence services to come up with evidence.

"We have announced time and again that we will not allow these activities to take place in Iran. This is a decision taken by the highest officials in the country. The report is an absolute lie," government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh told AFP.

...then later admited it.

Iran says it has identified most of the al-Qaeda suspects it is currently holding in custody, but has refused release any of their names.
Several reports have stated that those held may include some of Osama Bin Laden's closest aides and even one of the al-Qaeda leader's sons.

However Iran did not confirm how many alleged al-Qaeda members it was holding, their nationalities or their names, citing "security concerns".

In related news, Richard Perle has recently stated that Iran is "up to its eyeballs in terrorism".


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