Responding to American requests, shipments of modern air-defense systems to Iran have been delayed until later this year. Iran is paying about $100 million for each of the seven batteries of Tor-M1 (SA-15) missile launchers. Each battery has search radar and command center vehicles, and controls four launcher vehicles (each carrying eight missiles, and another radar.) The missiles can hit aircraft and cruise missiles up to 12 kilometers away, and cruise missiles at a distance of five kilometers. The missile launcher vehicle has a crew of thee (commander, driver and missile systems operator). The 370 pound missiles are nine feet long and 9.25 inches (235mm) in diameter. The tracking radar on the missile vehicle can track two targets at once, and can launch a missile in under eight seconds of a target being located. Missiles can be launched from the vehicle at three second intervals. The missile vehicle weighs 34 tons, has light armor (good against small arms and shell fragments) and cannot float. The system has not been used in combat yet, but the Russians say it has performed well in tests. The Tor-M1 anti-aircraft missiles would greatly improve Iran's air defenses. Russia's cover story is that the delay was caused by the need to train Iranian technicians and operators. Iran bought the Russian systems last November.
China and Russia are not eager for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But both nations are making a lot of money selling stuff to Iran. With oil selling for $70 dollars a barrel, Iran has lots of money, and wants lots of military and industrial equipment that Russia and China can provide. Iran is well aware of this relationship, and is pressuring China and Russia to continue stopping the UN from imposing sanctions. If the UN did impose sanctions, Russia and China could expect to lose billions of dollars of sales each year. Such a problem. China and Russia apparently realize that it could be five years or more before Iran actually have working nukes. In that time, a more rational government could show up in Iran. It's a long shot, but a lot better than trying to strong arm the religious fanatics in Iran to give up their nuclear weapons research.
April 17, 2006: Two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Chechnya. Next door in Dagestan, police killed three Chechen rebels, losing two policemen. One of the dead Chechens was a wanted rebel leader. The Chechen rebels have pretty much dispersed, with small groups operating in areas bordering Chechnya. The Chechen police and Russian troops have created a very hostile atmosphere for the Chechen rebels. So the rebels have largely fled.
April 1 4, 2006: One of Russias leading ICBM designers, Yury Solomonov, insisted that Russian ICBM technology would keep up with the United States, and that, over the next ten years, Russia would continue to have at least 2,000 warheads in service.
April 4, 2006: The SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), a regional security forum founded in Shanghai in 2001 by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, China. Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia, is putting together a joint military policy against terrorism.