“The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it; ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all the men of valor.” (Deuteronomy 3:18)
A recent report from the US National Air and Space Intelligence Center identified a growing threat of Iranian missiles. According to the report, Iran could develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of hitting the US, by 2015. The report also cited ongoing, highly-publicized exercises by Iranian ballistic missile forces.
In the same week, Israel tested a rocket propulsion system as part of its missile defense strategy. Israeli officials insist the tests were scheduled and not related to any Iranian missile activity.
The Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat assessment reported that “Iran has an extensive missile development program, and has received support from entities in Russia, China, and North Korea.” It mentioned Iran’s growing collection of short, medium and intermediate range missiles. It predicted that Iran would be capable of developing and testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, able to reach the United States, by 2015. Also cited was Iran’s interest in expanding “the range, lethality, and accuracy of its ballistic missile force.”
The report serves to highlight the importance of Israel’s missile defense systems. Iranian officials have repeatedly expressed their desire to wipe Israel off the map. Israel has long been concerned that Iran’s nuclear energy program is a cover for the development of nuclear weapons. As well, back in April, Iran tested 3 new missiles and announced it would be unveiling new personnel carriers. During Operation Pillar of Defense, Iran also took responsibility for aiding Hamas financially as well as militarily.
As such, Friday’s test of an Israeli rocket propulsion system comes as no surprise. The Defense Ministry issued the following statement: “This morning, Israel conducted a launch of a rocket propulsion system from the Palmachim base. The launch was conducted in the framework of a test that was planned in advance by the security establishment and was carried out on schedule.” Experts say the test appeared to be of a version of the Jericho ballistic missile with a range of at least 5 000km, capable of hitting Iran.
This complements Israel’s test in February of its Arrow 3, a missile interceptor. According to a senior Defense Ministry official, “The Arrow 3 is the upper tier for exo-atmospheric interceptions to provide the State of Israel additional opportunities for interception of incoming missiles from Iran or elsewhere.”