Iran: May 11, 2002

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refugee camps in eastern Iran to be closed.

 

While most of the media focuses on Iraq, neighboring Iran has been up to mischief rivaling Saddam Hussein's machinations. In addition to supporting FARC terrorists in Columbia, the Iranians have been quietly rebuilding their conventional forces and developing weapons of mass destruction - along with the means to deliver them to Europe's doorstep.

On 10 May, the Washington Times reported that Iran had move several batteries of U.S.-made improved Hawk missiles ("I-Hawks") to positions ringing Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility (10 miles south of the city of Bushehr and under construction since the 1970s). These were photographed late in April by a U.S. spy satellite. Iran has about 150 I-Hawks and the move was taken as indication that Tehran was preparing for an attack.

Iran is developing the long-range "Shahab-4" missile, which would have a 1,250-mile range and put Italy, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece within reach of Tehran. A 2002 CIA report said that Iran has been receiving missile equipment, technology and related expertise from Russia, North Korea and China.
Older generation Iranian missiles (like the "Shahab-3") have shorter ranges but are capable of reaching Israel, Turkey and U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia.

The Associated Press' George Gedda reported that, despite the emerging capability, an Iranian attack against American allies in Europe was considered highly unlikely since most of the countries in range of the "Shahab-4" maintain normal ties with Tehran, a factor believed to be able to help moderate Iran's behavior. This position blatantly fails to acknowledge that influence works both ways. The threat of a nuclear/chemical/biological weapon delivered via a long-range missile could force those European countries to support Tehran, or at least fail to support any actions that threatened Iran.

Over the past few weeks, Iranian newspapers reported that a five-member Iranian team led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sadeq Kharrazi, a nephew of Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, had held secret talks with American diplomats in Cyprus and elsewhere in Europe. Both the Iranian Foreign Ministry here and the American State Department denied the reports.

The United State's Undersecretary of State John Bolton highlighted Iran's progress in developing biological and chemical weapons in a 6 May speech, where he alluded to its ``ongoing interest in nuclear weapons, and its aggressive ballistic missile research, development and flight-testing regimen.''

On 8 May, the Bush administration decided to impose new sanctions on Chinese, Armenian and Moldovan companies accused of aiding Tehran's alleged weapons of mass destruction programs. The names or numbers of the companies affected were not disclosed, nor were the exact nature of their activities. However, the companies to be sanctioned are engaged in activities prohibited by multilateral export control lists. - Adam Geibel

 

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