debkafile Exclusive: Iran’s claim to have 600 Shehab-3 missiles pointed at Israel and US targets in Iraq is bluff

debkafile‘s military sources assert that Iran does not have as many as 600 Shehab-3 missiles capable of a simultaneous barrage – as threatened on an Iranian Web site Monday – nor sufficient launchers to fire that number. The threatening statement followed the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner’s warning Sunday, Sept. 17 that in view of Iran’s nuclear crisis, the world must “prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.”
A top Revolutionary Guards general, Mohammad Hassan Koussechi, told the Iranian News Agency Monday that any bombing raid on targets in Iran would provoke a tough response. He said US positions in Iraq and Afghanistan “are within our range.” The Iranian foreign ministry accused Paris of adopting a tone “even more inflammatory” than that of Washington.
debkafile‘s military sources report that what Iran does have is several dozen Shehab-3 missiles fitted with new warheads containing thousands of tiny cluster bombs. Since early summer, they have been pointed at Israel’s Negev desert nuclear reactor at Dimona and US military targets in the Gulf and Iraq, in the hope of deterring the US and Israel from attacking Iran and Syria. The US and Israel have since upgraded their defenses for intercepting the new Iranian missiles. Furthermore, the Israeli operation in Syria ten days ago showed Iran’s deterrent effort to be a washout. Tehran failed to come to its ally’s aid.
The 600-missile threat was in fact Tehran’s first real response to the Israeli operation, amid reports that missiles and materials the Islamic Republic had transferred to Syria were damaged. Sunday, Sept. 16, Israel’s military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin conveyed to the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee Sunday Sept. 16, the information that Israel had recovered its deterrent strength (which many claimed to have been forfeited as a result of the 2006 Lebanon War). Iran moved to refute this claim Monday by purporting to possess what amounted to a devastating second-strike capability in the form of hundreds of Shehab-3 missiles poised to go.
However, our military sources say that, notwithstanding Tehran’s big talk, Israeli warplanes generated some new facts:
1. According to US media reports, Syria’s electronic defensive systems were jammed so effectively that neighboring Lebanon’s electronic communications were down for several days. If this is true, it is also possible that Iran’s electronic systems can be similarly immobilized, thereby leaving Iranian missiles vulnerable to attack from the moment they are placed in their ready-to-launch positions. The US air force would then make short work of destroying them, lofted by the highly effective network of early warning stations with which the Americans have encircled Iran and positioned at big air force bases facing Iran from inside Iraq. What is more, ranged against Iran are the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier, which is patrolling the Persian Gulf and the USS Nimitz strike group, which is deployed in the northern Arabia Sea opposite Iran’s shores.
If Iran and its war planners appear to racing against time, their first priority must be to shield their purported 600 missiles from attack before launching them to target.
2. The precise quality and range of Iran’s deterrent missile force remains to be established. US intelligence agencies inferred from their 2007 war games that the Revolutionary Guards were staging a big show to display a large number of long-range Shehab-3 missiles, when in fact their real number was not very high. They also gained the impression that the missiles on show were not even the Shehab-3, but the inferior Shehab-2, whose range is less than 1,000 km and whose performance cannot be termed reliable or accurate.
3. Of equal importance is the type of warhead with which Iran’s missiles are armed. According to US media, the Syrian missiles destroyed carried nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Does than mean the 600 Iranian missiles are similarly equipped?

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