Israel test-fires missile as Iran threat looms
Haaretz (Israel) ^ | 2/12/2005 | Jonathan Lis
Israel carried out a successful test of its Arrow anti-missile system Friday morning, which Defense Ministry officials called a response to the increasing threat of ballistic missiles in the region.
The test launch came as a Russian newspaper reported that Iran has signed a deal to buy Russian tactical surface-to-air missile systems and a day after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned of the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
"The success of the test will improve the operational capabilities that already exist today in the Arrow system, which will be able to successfully cope with future threats," said Defense Ministry director general Yaakov Toran.
The simulated enemy missile used in the test resembles the Iranian Shahab-3 and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The test enemy missile was fired from an airplane over the Mediterranean Sea, from the west. The Arrow anti-missile missile was fired at 10:28 A.M. from an Israel Air Force base in the center of the country, and hit the target.
Friday's test is the 14th test of the Arrow system, which is being developed with the United States, and the ninth test of the missile itself.
Meanwhile, the Russian Vedomosti daily reported Friday that Iran is to buy 29 TOR-M1 systems, designed to bring down aircraft and guided missiles at low altitudes, citing Russian defense sources close to the deal.
The deal is the biggest sale of Russian defense hardware to Iran for about five years, the newspaper said. It did not say how much the order was worth.
Russian defense industry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Tehran is under intense international pressure after failing to convince the United States and others its nuclear scientists are working on fuel for power stations rather than bombs.
Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear power station at Bushehr.
Sharon: A nuclear Iran endangers many countries
Sharon said Thursday that Israel is watching with growing concern Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear capabilities, and that Israel cannot accept the current situation.
However, Sharon added that "Israel is not spearheading the international struggle against Iran's nuclear arming," although he said it is working with the countries that are at the forefront.
The danger posed by Iran "does not relate only to Israel," Sharon told the editors convention at Sokolov House in Tel Aviv. "It puts at risk Israel, Middle Eastern countries and many other countries around the world. Therefore the efforts led by the U.S. today must include free countries that understand this grave danger."
Earlier this week, Military Intelligence chief Major General Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) said diplomacy would have failed if Iran was still working on producing nuclear weapons by March.
"If by the end of March 2006, the international community does not manage to use diplomatic means to block Iran's effort to produce a nuclear bomb, there will no longer be any reason to continue diplomatic activity in this field, and it will be possible to say that the international attempts to thwart [Iran's efforts] have failed," Ze'evi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Several MKs said they thought Ze'evi was saying military efforts would become necessary by April.
"The comments by the head of Military Intelligence convey a harsh, worrying and dark picture," said committee chairman MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud). "Iran is going to become a nuclear power in the region and the world is helpless."