Unrep MSC to amphib

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another voice concerned about Iranian "stealth" missile systems - launches from cargo ships off U.S. and Israel


Found at China Confidential: Iran Developing Stealth Strike Capabilities:
After the attacks of 9/11, the thought of an implacable Islamist enemy in possession of atomic warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles is truly terrifying.

The consensus is that Iran already has missiles capable of striking US military bases in the Persian Gulf and Iraq, as well as targets in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The monstrous mullahocracy may also be able to reach parts of Germany and Italy, but is thought to be several years away from being able to accurately strike at targets throughout Europe; and an Iranian ICBM capable of hitting the continental US is not even on the proverbial radar screen.

But there is increasing concern that Iran could be developing an immediate missile threat--to the US--as China Confidential has reported in the past. Some Israeli and US analysts contend that the oil-rich, neo-Nazi-supporting Islamist nation--the world leader in state sponsored terrorism and Holocaust denial--is actively developing conventional, sea-based methods for launching stealth attacks on coastal cities with cruise missiles and short- and medium-range missiles.
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Roughly 70 percent of Israel's population lives in the narrow Mediterranean coastal strip in the two major population centers of Tel Aviv and Haifa. The consequences of any missile attack with weapons of mass destruction on the region would be devastating, both in numbers of people lost and in economic upheaval. Israel is essentially a one-bomb country in terms of its vulnerability to atomic attack.

Similarly, some 75 percent of the US population lives within 200 miles of the US coastline. Nuclear-tipped missile strikes could cripple the country. The destruction caused by a nuclear warhead detonating in the air over the nation's capital would make the 9/11 attacks look mild by comparison.
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The most plausible sea-based attack scenarios are described below.

(1) SCUD-IN-A-BUCKET: Foreign flagged commercial ships could carry Russian designed Scuds or Chinese Silkworm cruise missiles for easy launch from international waters. Some types of dry cargo ships could launch the missiles from their holds. A container ship could conceal a missile and launch mechanism in an innocent looking shipping container on top of its deck before authorities even knew that an attack was in progress. Iran and North Korea have successfully test-fired Scuds from cargo ships. And the US itself experimented with the technique back in the early 1960s.

(2) CANISTER-LAUNCH: The Soviet Union developed this technique during the Cold War. It involves placing a ballistic missile in a sealed tube and dropping it in the sea from the deck of a commercial vessel. The bottom of the tube, sealed off from the missile, is weighted with ballast to achieve a specific level of buoyancy to ensure that the nose of the missile points up just enough to barely break the sea’s surface. After an interval to allow the mother ship to move on--and maybe drop off other encapsulated missiles--the rockets could be remotely launched or fired by timers and guided to their targets by the ship's commercial GPS system.
You know, if I was in Europe or Australia, I wouldn't be too comfortable either.

Earlier posts on this topic
Maritime Security: A "Real Missile Threat?"
, This can't be good news: "DoD Finds Cruise Missile Defense 'Gaps'", and North Korean Missile/Cargo Ships.

More scenarios at MissileThreat.com.

UPDATE: And remember, they don't have to actually hit a land mass to do damage. As quoted here:
An EMP attack damages all unprotected electronic equipment within the blast's "line of sight" (the EMP's "footprint" on the earth's surface). The size of the footprint is determined by the altitude of the explosion. The higher the altitude, the greater the land area affected. A Scud-type ballistic missile launched from a vessel in U.S. coastal waters and detonated at an altitude of 95 miles could degrade electronic systems across one-quarter of the United States. A more powerful missile launched from North Korea could probably deliver a warhead 300 miles above America--enough to degrade the electronic systems across the entire continental United States.
China Confidential's earlier post on the sea-going SCUD cooperation between North Korea and Iran here.

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