A high-ranking defense official revealed to the Senate on Tuesday that Iran has fully incorporated a Russian long-range anti-aircraft missile system into its military, seriously upgrading its ability to threaten the US and Israeli military interests in the region. But the general’s report failed to take into account divine intervention which has plagued the system in the past.
Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr., Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday about Iran’s “generational improvement in capabilities,” according to Bloomberg News.
In his written testimony, the general identified Iran as a major threat to US and Israeli interests.
“Iran remains a primary nation-state challenger to US interests and security within the Middle East and Southwest Asia,” General Ashley wrote in his report. “Iran is engaged in the region’s conflicts to further its security goals and expand its influence with neighboring countries, at the expense of the United States and US-aligned regional partners.”
Israel is clearly one of those “regional partners” the general referred to. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frequently discussed the missiles with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a meeting in 2013, Netanyahu hinted that if the S-300 arrived in Iran, Israel would consider destroying the system before it became fully operational.
General Ashley reported that this actually took place in 2016 when Russia delivered the SA-20c, also known as the S-300 PMU, surface-to-air missile system (SAM). The SA-20, a self-propelled land-based system with a 120-mile range, gives Iran “the flexibility of a highly mobile, long-range, strategic surface-to-air missile”, General Ashley wrote.
“[Iran] continues to improve its conventional capabilities to deter adversaries, defend its homeland, and control avenues of approach –including the Strait of Hormuz — in the event of a military conflict,” Ashley said in his submission to the Senate panel. “We expect Iran’s modernization priorities to remain its ballistic missile, naval, and air defense forces, with new emphasis on the need for more robust combat air capabilities.”
The potential threat posed by Iran upgrading to the SA-20 has long been known. In 2008, General Michael Moseley, the US Air Force chief of staff, told reporters that Iran’s capability to defend itself against air strikes would take a “quantum leap” when it deployed the advanced Russian anti-aircraft system, not only preventing attacks against Iran but changing the regional situation.
“The SA-20 is a big deal,” Moseley said at the time. “It is a quantum leap. If you put an SA-20 up against the Washington Monument, you’ve got about a 100-mile range with that thing — you can engage aircraft as far as Philadelphia.”
Though General Ashley’s concern is clearly well-founded, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi, a well-known mystic in Israel, has reassured his followers that the missile posed no threat to Israel. In September 2016, while the system was being installed, Rabbi Ben Artzi reassured his followers that the S-300 that the missiles “will get a virus in their computers, and go crazy.”
“They will blow up inside their bunkers,” Rabbi Ben Artzi said. “The launcher will blow up underneath them.”
A few months latter, videos began surfacing on the internet showing precisely that.
In his report, General Ashley also identified Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile systems, with the long-range missiles having a range of over 1,000 miles, as being a source of particular concern. The ongoing missile program, in violation of Iranian agreements with the UN, poses a threat to the entire region. This is being further enhanced by parallel improvements in Iran’s naval capabilities.
“Both Iran’s regular Navy and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy will field increasingly lethal platforms and weapons—including more advanced mines, small submarines, fast-attack craft, and ship- and shore-based antiship cruise missiles—which further complicate US freedom of navigation throughout Iran’s littoral.”