Thursday, August 12, 2004

Those Lovable Iranians

Our favorite theocrats are at it again:

Iran has tested an upgraded version of a medium-range missile in response to Israel's latest tests on its anti-missile technology.
The Shahab-3 missile is thought to have a range of 810 miles, with the potential to strike anywhere in Israel.
Iran claims its missile programme should work as a deterrent, and that no nuclear warheads are being developed.
Iranian officials have said the country would strike back strongly if Israel tried to hit its nuclear facilities.
The test was carried out "to assess the latest developments implemented on this missile," a defence ministry spokesman said in a TV report
The Iranian Defence Minister, Ali Shamkhani, announced the imminent test last week, but denied that Iran was building a new, more advanced Shahab-4 missile.
"The Israelis are trying hard to improve the capacity of their missiles, and we are also trying to improve the Shahab-3 in a short time," he said.
It's important to note that there's absolutely no symmetry here between the actions of the two sides: anti-missile technology is purely defensive, and the Iranians are essentially admitting that they're trying to find a way to keep holding Israel hostage. As for their denials of a Shahab-4 programme, one can't help laughing; they've been working on the damn thing for years now, and given Iran's track record of first denying and later admitting activities related to their nuclear weapons programme, I'm taking this particular denial as firm evidence that they've now gotten most of the bugs out of the system.

The Shahab-4 missile ought to shake the Europeans out of their worrying complacency as to just how long they can go on talking to Iran with just the carrot and no stick, as the missile's estimated 2,900km range puts most of Europe within reach; as the effrontery of their latest set of demands indicates, diplomacy just isn't working with these guys, and a more, ahem, "muscular" sort of persuasion is likely to be required to prevent this loathsome regime from going nuclear.