Iranian War Games Send Message of Confrontation

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - As international tension mounts over Iran's nuclear program, Iran has launched a week of war games and missile tests. An Iranian official said the activity is intended to send a message to anyone who might cross the Islamic Republic.

Iranian missile tests over the weekend are an indication that they believe they could be attacked by America, one expert said here on Monday.

Washington has not ruled out the possibility of using force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian energy program. The issue has been referred to the United Nations, which could sanction Iran, something that won't happen right away.

Iranian Rear Admiral Mohammad Ibrahim Dehqani was quoted on state television as saying that his country would test-fire a powerful torpedo and more missiles this week as part of the "Holy Prophet war games" -- weeklong military maneuvers that started last Friday in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman and include more than 17,000 Revolutionary Guard Forces.

"One of the messages of the war games for the enemies is that if they slightly violate the Islamic republic's interests in the Persian Gulf, we will confront them," the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Dehqani as saying.

Tehran announced on Sunday that it had carried out tests of an underwater missile that can evade sonar and goes so fast that no ship can escape it. Iran is one of two countries that possess the missile, Revolutionary Guard Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said. He added that it could travel 100 meters (325 feet) per second.

"It has a very powerful warhead designed to hit big submarines. Even if enemy warship sensors identify the missile, no warship can escape from this missile because of its high speed," Fadavi was quoted as saying.

On Friday, the Iranian armed forces said they had successfully test fired a ground- launched missile, which was produced in Iran and could evade radar.

Underwater missile

Whether or not the Iranian weapons are as revolutionary as they claim is debatable, experts are saying.

Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel's Arrow (anti-ballistic) Missile Program, said the Iranian underwater missile appeared to be similar to the Russian-made Shkval. It is not a torpedo but an underwater rocket, he said.

Although it is fast, the down side is that it has a quite limited range - only about seven kilometers (four miles), said Rubin. The range of a gunship is some 20 kilometers (about 12 miles), he said.

"It made a sensation," Rubin said about the underwater rocket, but to say that it is "revolutionary" may be going too far.

It is part of the psychological warfare. The Iranians really believe that the Americans could attack them soon and therefore they are on alert, said Rubin.

Rubin said the missile test indicates that the Iranians are preparing themselves for the possibility of war.

The Iranians see the Persian Gulf as a backdoor that could be used to attack them and they are trying to bottle it up. They are making a very conscientious effort to gain superiority in the Persian Gulf against the possibility of attack, said Rubin.

Iran has hundreds of miles of coastline on the Persian Gulf, which includes the city of Bushehr, where Russia is helping Iran complete its nuclear reactor.

"They are afraid. They know better than anyone else their preparations for nuclear capability in the future and they [know they could] need to defend themselves," said retired Israeli Maj.-Gen. Jacob Amidror

But the Iranian threats are nothing compared to what their blackmail will be in the future when they have nuclear capability, said Amidror.

Iran is strategically located on the Straits of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. About 25 percent of the world's oil production moves through the Straits each day.

Two months ago, Mohammed-Nabi Rudaki, deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, threatened to "halt oil supply to the last drop" from the Persian Gulf through the Straights of Hormuz if the issue of Iran was transferred to the U.N. Security Council and economic and air travel restrictions were imposed.

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