CIA Report Says Syria Aims to Obtain Nuclear Weapons; Iraq, Iran & Libya Develop Long Range Missile Programs
The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has asked the Intelligence Community to produce annual reports on the latest intelligence on ballistic missile developments and threats as well as data on non-missile threats throughout the world.
The report, which was presented to the Senate last week, is an unclassified summary of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which was prepared under the auspices of the National Intelligence Officer for Strategic and Nuclear Programs.
The report includes three Arab countries, namely Iraq, Libya and Syria and another Islamic state – Iran. However, the CIA document ignores Israel’s efforts to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
Regarding Syria, the report says that it “remains concerned about Syria’s intentions regarding nuclear weapons”. It adds that "Syria maintains a ballistic missile and rocket force of hundreds of FROG rockets, Scuds, and SS-21 SRBMs. With considerable foreign assistance, Syria progressed to Scud production using primarily locally manufactured parts. Syrian regional concerns may lead Damascus to seek a longer range ballistic missile capability such as North Korea's No Dong MRBM” (medium range ballistic missile).
With regards to Iraq, according to the CIA report, the Intelligence community believes that “Baghdad’s goal of becoming the predominant regional power and its hostile relations with many of its neighbors are the key drivers behind Iraq’s ballistic missile program. Iraq has been able to maintain the infrastructure and expertise necessary to develop missiles”.
The report claims that “the imposition of UN sanctions has impeded Libyan efforts to obtain foreign assistance for its longer range missile programs. Nevertheless, even if Libya were to obtain a No Dong-class MRBM, Tripoli would be likely to continue to try for longer range systems to increase the number of US and NATO targets it can hold at risk. If a missile were offered with range sufficient to strike 2,500 kilometers into Europe, Libya would try to obtain it”.
The Iranian-developed Shahab-3 MRBM, with its 1,300 kilometer range, based on the North Korean No Dong missile, is in advanced stages of development, and Iran could launch it in a conflict. The American intelligence community says that Iran still does not have nuclear capability, but could have one by the end of the decade - or sooner, if it gets foreign assistance. “Meanwhile, Iran is expanding its efforts to sell missile technology”, the report adds. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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