Tags: New | Missile | Threats: | North | Korea | Iran | Iraq

New Missile Threats: North Korea, Iran, Iraq

Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM

North Korea, Iran and Iraq are all pursuing ambitious plans to make long-range ballistic missiles, and only a "significant change in their political orientation" can stop them from doing so, the report says.

All three would be additions to a list of countries making intercontinental ballistic missiles. The list already includes Russia and China.

Iran, the report says, is unlikely to become a threat to the United States before 2015.

Ballistic missiles remain a central element in the military arsenals of nations around the globe. They will almost certainly retain this status over the next 15 years. This forces states to devote their often-scarce resources to develop or acquire ballistic missiles.

"The threats to the U.S. homeland, nevertheless, will consist of dramatically fewer warheads than today, owing to significant reductions in Russian strategic forces," the report says.

China has been modernizing its long-range strategic missile force since the mid-1980s, shifting from reliance primarily on silo-based liquid-propellant CSS-4's to mobile solid-propellant systems. The CIA believes that by 2015, the total number of Chinese strategic warheads will rise several-fold, though it will still remain well below the number held by Russian or U.S. forces.

North Korea has extended its missile launch moratorium through 2003, although the North continues to work on the Taepo Dong-2 program. The Taepo Dong-2, capable of reaching parts of the United States with a nuclear weapon-size payload, may be ready for flight testing. The initial test would likely be conducted in a space launch configuration.

Iran also is pursuing a longer-range missile capability.

Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, particularly if armed with weapons of mass destruction, already pose a significant threat overseas to U.S. interests, military forces and allies, the report says.

The proliferation of missile technology and components continues, contributing to the production of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and even some with a longer range.

CIA officials say, however, that there has not been "a large increase in the number of countries possessing ballistic missiles" in the last 10 years. Instead, the countries that already have the ability are continuing to further develop their missile technology.

Emerging ballistic missile states, according to the report, continue to increase the range, reliability, and accuracy of the missile systems in their inventories. This, the report says, poses ever greater risks to U.S. forces, interests, and allies throughout the world.

"A decade ago, U.S. and allied forces abroad faced threats from short-range missiles, primarily the Scud and its variants. Today, countries have deployed or are on the verge of deploying medium-range missiles, placing greater numbers of targets at risk."

Proliferation of ballistic missile-related technologies, materials, and expertise - especially by Russia, China, and North Korea - assisted emerging missile states to accelerate their own programs.

The report quotes China's sale of M-11 short-range ballistic missiles to Pakistan which allowed Islamabad to pursue "even more capable and longer range future systems."

North Korea, the report says, has also helped several countries in developing their own programs. It is also believed to have sold the medium-range No Dong missiles to Pakistan, enhancing its capability and technological base.

North Korea also helped Iran in reverse-engineering the No Dong in its Shahab-3 medium-range missile program.

The CIA believes that now Iran is expanding its efforts to sell missile technology.

States with emerging missiles programs inevitably will run into problems that will delay and frustrate their development programs, the report concludes. Problems they will face stem from their dependence on foreign sources, which will become increasingly scarce under international pressure.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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North Korea, Iran and Iraq are all pursuing ambitious plans to make long-range ballistic missiles, and only a significant change in their political orientation can stop them from doing so, the report says. All three would be additions to a list of countries making...
Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM
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