(H/T – Ed Morrissey, who erroneously gave me full credit for correcting a typographical error in the post)
Yesterday, I ran with the news that the next ICBM-interception test from the Missile Defense Agency will simulate an Iranian launch on the continental US. Today, John McKittrick, who works in the industry, reports on and dissects Iranian claims of a successful test-fire of a two-stage solid-fuel missile, the Sajjil-2, with a range of about 1,200 miles.
A few points, culled from both McKittrick’s own analysis and those of others he links to (assuming, of course, that the Iranians are 100% truthful; they have been known to exaggerate rocketry claims in the past):
- Switching to an all-solid-fuel rocket (the previous long-range rockets had been at least partially-liquid-fuelled) allows Iran to fuel and store a rocket for a much longer time. Liquid-fuel rockets tend to need to be fuelled shortly before launch and need fixed sites, while solid-fuel rockets can be made road-mobile (think about the Sovi…er, Russian SS-25. In fact, the video of the launch over at Closing Velocity appears to show it taking place from a Transporter-Erector-Launcher unit.
- The speed of that missile is reportedly faster than that of previous Iranian missiles. While it doesn’t make it invulnerable to radar like the Iranian Defense Minister claims, it makes it harder to intercept.
- It takes relatively-little tweaking to extend the range of that missile, especially with the effort the Mad Mullahs are ordering put into the program.
- While making a 2-stage solid-fuel intermediate-range missile work is not a guarantee of making a 3-stage ICBM work, it is a shorter leap to go from 2 stages o 3 than it is to go from 1 stage to 2.
Revisions/extensions (10:40 am 12/16/2009) - It is telling that House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-OH) has a reaction before either the White House or the State Department:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) today issued the following statement after Iran’s successful test-firing of an improved, long-range ballistic missile capable of striking Israel and U.S. assets across the Gulf region. The test came after The Times of London this week revealed evidence that Tehran had been working on a trigger for a nuclear weapon.
“Coming on the heels of revelations that Iran is working to weaponize its nuclear program, this missile test raises the specter of danger to U.S. national security interests. The clock has been moved forward and the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism now is closer to having a deliverable nuclear weapon. Should that day come, global stability and efforts to combat nuclear proliferation will be permanently compromised.”
“The United States must not fall silent in the face of Iranian aggression and provocation, and we must lead the international community to impose sweeping sanctions against the Iranian economy until Iran changes course. On Tuesday Congress authorized the administration to sanction any international companies or individuals who sell or ship gasoline to Iran. We encourage the President to follow through on this authority immediately, and to unite the international community to implement a strong new round of sanctions against Iran.”