Russia, China aid Iran's missile program
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Russia and China are working closely with Iran in building long-range nuclear missiles that could be fielded within three years, The Washington Times has learned.
. . . . A detailed Israeli intelligence report about the cooperation, which was given to the CIA and Pentagon, confirms that Iran is building two systems based on North Korea's Nodong missile with ranges up to 1,200 miles, Pentagon officials said.
. . . . Among the Russians directly involved is Yuri Koptev, head of the Russian Space Agency, as well as the aerospace director of the Russian state arms exporting agency, who was not identified further, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
. . . . New details about the Iranian missile program have alarmed both the U.S. and Israeli governments because the systems could hit targets throughout the region with chemical or biological weapons, and possibly with a future nuclear warhead, should Tehran succeed in building one.
. . . . Much of the Israeli intelligence report has been confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies, although CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency officials familiar with information about the Iranian program declined to comment further when asked yesterday about the effort.
. . . . A Chinese company, Great Wall Industries, also is supplying key missile-testing technology to Iran, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
. . . . Among the Russian firms helping Iran are Rosvoorouzhenie, the Russian arms-export agency; the Bauman Institute, the Russian equivalent of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; NPO Trud, a rocket-motor manufacturer; and Polyus, or "North Star," Russia's leading laser developer.
. . . . Russian assistance includes wind-tunnel testing of missile nose cones, the design of guidance and propulsion systems, and development of a solid-fuel project, according to the officials.
. . . . The two Iranian missiles are believed by the officials to be derivatives of the 620-mile-range Nodong and are dubbed the Shahab-3 and the Shahab-4. According to the Pentagon officials, the Shahab-3 will have a range of between 800 and 930 miles and will be capable of carrying a 1,650-pound warhead; the Shahab-4 will include improved guidance components and can travel up to 1,240 miles with a warhead weighing up to 2,200 pounds.
. . . . Shahab-4 would be capable of hitting targets as far away as Germany and western China.
. . . . The missiles will be made in Iran.
. . . . The Israelis have identified Mr. Koptev and the Rosvoorouzhenie official as the only two senior Russians linked directly to the Iranian program. Some U.S. officials believe they are "free-lancing" for cash rather than carrying out deals approved by Moscow.
. . . . Israeli officials who briefed U.S. intelligence agencies on their report last February in Washington produced a copy of a $7 million contract between NPO Trud and the Iranian missile program. The contract involved the transfer of equipment related to the SS-4 medium-range missile, the officials said.
. . . . The Chinese are supplying telemetry equipment that sends and collects missile-guidance data during flight tests, the officials said. Information about the Chinese role in the missile program is scarce, they said.
. . . . Russian and Chinese transfers of missile technology to Iran appear to violate the 31-nation Missile Technology Control Regime, which bans exports of missiles and related technology for medium-range missiles. It calls for sanctions to be imposed on violators who ship missiles with ranges greater than 186 miles and payloads heavier than 1,100 pounds.
. . . . Mikhail Shurgalin, a Russian Embassy spokesman, denied his government has any role in supporting Iran's missile program. "Russia fully complies with its existing international obligations, including those on missile technology transfers," he said.
. . . . Robert Einhorn, deputy assistant secretary of state and the Clinton administration's top missile-proliferation policy-maker, told a Senate subcommittee in June that such Russian denials are contradicted by other information. He said "technical interactions between Iran and Russian entities" cause the most concern.
. . . . A State Department official said Monday that the U.S. government "still has concerns" about the Russian aid to Iran's missile program. "We've intensified our efforts to try to get the Russians to put a stop to it," the official said.
. . . . Asked about the involvement of senior Russian government officials in the program, the official said Moscow has been alerted to the reports.
. . . . The official said the issue first became public months ago with disclosures that Russia had provided SS-4 equipment to Iran. But he added: "That is not even the greatest concern. There are other programs and systems that worry us even more."
. . . . U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed much of the Israeli intelligence report related to Russian support. The CIA in May identified Russian entities cooperating with Iran's Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), the government defense industrial agency in charge of developing and producing ballistic missiles.
. . . . The SHIG has completed several contracts worth more than $100,000 with the Russian Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute related to missile programs, according to sensitive U.S. intelligence reports. The contracts include construction of a wind tunnel for missile design, manufacture of model missiles and creation of related software.