2008: Iran has announced that is has
begun production of a new class of submarines that can fire both torpedoes and
missiles. Iran has, as far as anyone can tell, no submarine building
capability. Over the last few years, Iran has announced several new submarine
construction projects. But no one can find any evidence that any of these subs
exist. But all this is nothing new for the Iranians.
For the last
month, Iran has made about one new weapons announcement a week. All these
breakthroughs in military technology involve new systems that, on close
examination amount to, well, nothing. First there was the announcement of a new
robotic submarine. No details were given, but it was soon discovered that such
devices are available on the commercial market, mainly for scientific research.
Some nations buy them for military purposes. Apparently Iranian submarine
designers know how to use Google, but their counterparts in the publicity
department did not.
the announcement of having combat aircraft that can fly 3,000 kilometers
without refueling. Amazing? No, as Iran has had such aircraft (the U.S. F-4
fighter) for over thirty years. What were the Iranians thinking when they
issued this press release?
ballistic missile launch, which the Iranians touted as a successful test of a
satellite launcher. Up until now, Iran has been buying satellite launching
services from Russia (as does the United States and many other countries). The
reality, as monitored by the radars of U.S. warships off the Iranian coast, was
a launch failure. When the missile reached an altitude of about 16 kilometers,
it broke up as the second stage fired. Information later leaked out of Iran
that the missile was carrying a low tech communications satellite. Apparently
even the Iranians were not willing to entrust this new version of their Safir
ballistic missile with an expensive satellite. Finally, there was the recent
announcement of the new submarine entering production, as well as two other
Iranian built (over the last three years) subs that were delivered (but never
seen by anyone).
mystery here is, why go ahead with these lies when it is so obvious that the
truth will eventually come out? Apparently the Iranians believe that the
initial lie will impress more people, than the eventual debunking. The Iranian
religious dictatorship is preaching to their base, which tends to be poorly
educated and suspicious of anyone who would criticize their religious leaders.
All this hype
is nothing new. It's been going on for years. If you go back and look at the
many Iranian announcements of newly developed, high tech, weapons, all you find
is a photo op for a prototype, if that. Production versions of these weapons
rarely show up. Iranians know that,
while the clerics and politicians talk a tough game, they rarely do anything.
Even Iranian support of Islamic terrorism has been far less effective than the
rhetoric. The Iranians have always been cautious, which is one reason Arabs
fear them. When the Iranians do make their move, it tends to be decisive. But
at the moment, the Iranians have no means to make a decisive move. Their
military is mostly myth, having been run down by decades of sanctions, and the
disruptions of the 1980s war with Iraq. Their most effective weapon is bluster,
and, so far, it appears to be working.
Iranians know that nuclear weapons would make their bluff and bluster even more
muscular. Even the suspicion that they had nukes would be beneficial. And that
appears to be the current plan. One new weapon the Iranians do put a lot of
money and effort into are ballistic missiles. They are building an extended
range (from 1,300 to 1,800 kilometer) version of their Shahab 3 ballistic
missile. The new version puts all of Israel within range, even if fired from
deep inside Iran. Chemical warheads (with nerve gas) are thought to be
available for these missiles. But Israel has threatened to reply with nuclear
weapons if the Iranians attack this way. Iran would probably get the worst of
such an exchange, and the Iranians are aware of it.
Not all of
the clerics that run the country are eager to go to war with Israel, or even
threaten it. But because the clerical factions do not want to appear at odds
with each other in public, the more radical leaders are allowed to rant away
about attacking Israel. That's also the thinking behind the many IRGC press
conferences announcing imaginary new weapons. The clerics are not going spend
billions on mass production of second rate systems that are most notable for
being designed in Iran, and not much else.