Skip to comments.Iran Has 12 Strategic Cruise Missiles [made public last month by a Ukrainian parliament member]
Posted on 03/21/2005 9:19:21 AM PST by conservativecorner
The Ukrainian prosecutor-general Svyatoslav Piksun created a major international flap Friday, March 18, when he admitted to the Financial Times that 18 X-55 strategic cruise missiles, also known as Kh-55, had been exported - 12 to Iran and 6 to China in 2001. He could not explain how the significant leak of technology from the former Soviet Unions nuclear arsenal occurred, but said the missiles had been sold without nuclear warheads.
The X-55 has a ranged of 3,000 km and is capable of carrying 200 kiloton nuclear warheads. Launched from Su-24 long-range strike aircraft in the Iranian air force, it can put Japan, all of Russia and Israel within range. Piksuns admission is the first official confirmation of the Ukrainian missile sale that was first made public last month by a Ukrainian parliament member.
Their acquisition heightens concerns about Irans nuclear weapons program. The US embassy in Kiev is closely monitoring the investigation and demands the findings be made public in full. The Japanese embassy echoed the demand.
DEBKAfiles Moscow sources reveal that the Ukrainian shipment to Iran included radioactive materials for making dirty bombs.
According to DEBKAfiles military sources, the 12 strategic cruise missiles place the strategic ratio between the Islamic Republic and Israel on a completely new level. Iran shares this asset with only two other world powers, the United States and Russia. This weapon is used for destroying known relatively fixed-position targets, such as Israels Dimona nuclear center and population centers. Its guidance system combines inertial-Doppler navigation and position correction based on in-flight comparison of terrain in targeted regions with images stored in the memory of its on-board computer. The propulsion system is a dual-flow engine located underneath the missiles tail.
Possession of the Kh-55 makes Irans Shahab-3 or its projected Shahab-4 missile programs irrelevant. Tehran may have given them exposure as a red herring to distract attention from its high-profile missile asset.
The breakup of the Soviet Union left about 1,000 missiles in Ukraines arsenal, half of which were meant to be turned over to Russia in the 1990s and half destroyed under a US-funded disarmament program. The 18 sold under the table slipped through the cracks of this accord.
The previous government in Kiev arrested and charged a local businessman for the illegal exports and his trial is still underway, the Ukrainian prosecutor said, adding that two Russian businessmen were suspected of masterminding the sale, one of whom, Oleg Orlov, was arrested last July in Prague in response to a Ukrainian warrant. Under the new government that took office in January, SBU chief Alexander Turchinov has reopened the investigation.
This is the Russian Tomahawkski, they began to develop it in 1968, went into service in 1984. Its for use against fixed land targets. It's a subsonic cruise missile.
Dirty bomb? The Mad Mullah's dirty feet are more dangerous.
Big friggin' deal. Iran has had Chineese Silkworm antiship missiles covering the Strait of Hormuz for over 20 years.
Yo-Yo, this isn't a Silkworm, its a whole different breed. Its a 3000 mile range cruise missile, similar to our Tomahawk, and it can hit Japan. If it can hit Japan it can take out every US military base in the region, including Diego Garcia.
On behalf of all those who want to see the mullahcracy overthrown, I'd like to thank Ukraine for undermining those in favor of its continuation.
But those are relatively short range, and primarily anti-ship. The new bird is much longer ranged and has both anti-ship and land attack variants.
From Global Security:
X-55 Long Range Cruise Missile
Ukrainian Official Says Missiles Exported To Iran, China RFE/RL 18 Mar 2005 -- Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun is quoted as saying Ukraine exported 12 cruise missiles to Iran and six to China in 2001.
Analysis: Kuchma's Ukraine Cruises Back Into The Spotlight RFE/RL 02 Feb 2005 -- An ongoing investigation by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has revealed that in 2002, officials of the SBU, along with high-ranking members of the Ukrainian military and the state arms-sales company UkrSpetzExport, sold at least six cruise missiles each to Iran and China.
Ukraine Accused Of Selling Weapons To Iran RFE/RL 02 Feb 2005 -- Ukrainian lawmaker Hryhoriy Omelchenko has alleged in a public letter to President Viktor Yushchenko that Ukraine illegally sold cruise missiles to Iran in violation of international nonproliferation treaties.
On 28 January 2005, Ukranian parliamentarian Hryhoriy Omelchenko issued an open letter to President Viktor Yushchenko that Ukraine had illegally sold cruise missiles to Iran. It's was a credible report, which names dates, names, the bank accounts, fictitious shell companies that were set up to extradite the transfer of money from Iran. Plus there was collaborating evidence to this whole affair. He refered to a paper company set up in Cyprus to channel money for the missiles.
Anti-corruption lawmaker Omelchenko was a ranking State Secret Services (SBU) officer and a deputy belonging to Yulia Tymoshenko's parliament faction. Omelchenko is the past head of the parliament's committee on combating organized crime and corruption and is also the Head of the Temporary Committee on Investigating the Murder of Georgiy Gongadze. He has requested that the Attorney General arrest Leonid Kuchma for his involvement with the murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze.
On 18 March 2005 "Financial Times" newspaper of Britain reported that Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun had stated that Ukraine exported 12 cruise missiles to Iran and six to China in 2001. Piskun told the paper that none of the 18 X-55 cruise missiles (also known as Kh-55 or AS-15) was exported with the nuclear warheads they were designed to carry.
The newspaper said it was the first confirmation by a Ukrainian government official that the exports took place. The the X-55 has a range of 3,000 kilometers, more than enough to reach Israel from Iran. The US embassy in Kyiv is closely monitoring the investigation and wanted the findings of a reported secret trial over the missile exports to be made public.
The missiles themselves were not in very good shape, according to one US official. They were diverted from Soviet stocks left behind when the Ukraine declared its independence in 1991.
Prosecutors said the missiles were sold illegally, and were not exported by Ukrainian enterprises. Export documents known as end-user certificates recorded the recipient of the 20 Kh55 missiles as "Russia's Defense Ministry."
A government investigation into illicit weapons sales by officials loyal to former President Leonid Kuchma, who left office in January 2005, led to secret indictments or arrests arms dealers accused of selling missiles to Iran and China. At least three people were arrested and another three were indicted last year in connection with the illicit arms trade.
In 2000 Russian national Oleg Orlov and a Ukrainian partner identified as E.V. Shilenko exported 20 Kh55 cruise missiles through a fake contract and end-user certificate with Russia's state-run arms dealer and with a firm called Progress, a subsidiary company of Ukrspetseksport -- Ukraine's arms export agency. Orlov was detained 13 July 2004 in the Czech Republic, and as of early 2005 an extradition procedure was under way to return him to Ukraine for prosecution. Orlov and his partners were suspected of providing Iran with maintenance equipment and technicians to service the Kh-55 missiles.
Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun was chief prosecutor under Kuchma and retained his job after Yushchenko, a Kuchma opponent, came to power in January 2005. Legislator Hrihoriy Omelchenko dismissed the statement by prosecutors as a "political trick" by Piskun to keep his post in the face of calls by pro-Yushchenko legislators for his resignation.
Lawyer Bogdan Ferents defends in court the sole defendant in the case on the sale of the missiles, director-general of the company Ukrainaviazakaz Vladimir Yevdokimov. The Kh-55 cruise missiles delivered by Ukraine to Iran and China in 1999-2001 "are not weapons", Ferents said, adding that the missiles were not complete with parts.
The missiles delivered to third countries were manufactured in 1987, and had a service life of eight years. The lawyer maintained that storage of the missile did not meet standards since 1992. Former Air Force commander Viktor Strelnikov and specialists who examined the missiles said that they were marked with the inscription "training".
Jane's Intelligence Digest, published on 18 March 2005, noted: "There is no doubt that the sale of the missiles to Iran and China could only have taken place with the knowledge and cooperation of senior Ukrainian officials. ... there is ... mounting evidence to suggest that the sale of missiles to Iran was undertaken with the assistance of the Russian security services."
Why Does Iran Want Cruise Missiles?
The half-dozen missiles sold to China are consistent with a Chinese interest in reverse-engineering these weapons to provide technical input into China's ongoing efforts to develop long range cruise missiles. But Iran is not known to have a long range cruise missile development program, and the dozen missiles aquired by Iran suggest the possibility that Iran hoped to equip these missiles with nuclear warheads, once Iran completed its atomic weaponization program.
Press reports noted that while Iran does not operate long-range bombers, it was believed that Tehran could adapt its Soviet-built Su-24 strike aircraft to launch the missile. But this totally misunderstands the multiple launch modes of this missile, which can also be launched from ships or from land based truck launchers. These later modes are certainly the ones relevant to Iran. The Soviet sea and ground launched versions of the missile had a small solid rocket motor that would boost the missile to cruising speed, and Iran would have to make some provisions to replicate this equipment. Such small motors would seem well within the reach of Iran's capability base.
Long range cruise missiles tipped with atomic bombs would provide an attractive capability for attacking Israel. It may be imagined that an Iranian atomic bomb would be somewhat larger and heavier than the Soviet nuclear charge the missile was initially designed to carry, but no so much larger as to preclude installation in the missile's nose. Absent unavailable data on Iranian atomic bomb characteristics, some reduction in the Kh-55's 2,500-3,000 km range would be anticipated, but not so much as to preclude reaching Israel at a distance of less than 1,500 km.
While Israel has invested considerable effort in developing the Arrow anti-missile system for countering Iran's ballistic missiles, Israeli capbilities to counter low-flying cruise missiles are less well developed. The X-55 cruise missile is much smaller than the Shehab 3, and consequently could be mounted on a much smaller launching truck, making it easier for the launcher garrison to evade detection.
Unlike a ballistic missile, it is hard to detect a cruise missile when it is launched. The KH-55 flies at medium altitude for the first part of its flight. Cruise missiles can fly at low altitude and weave in between mountain ranges to minimise the risk of detection. They are much more difficult for SAMs and other air defences to track or attempt to engage. The only way to effectively deal with cruise missiles is to use AWACS to guide in fighters. Even then its hard for the fighters' AAMs to engage the missiles. Trying to intercept cruise missiles over land is a difficult challenge for the defending side.
Basic computer maps used for navigation can be compiled from information bought from most countries with operational satellite systems. With the inflight navigation fixes periodically throughout its flight this would be good enough for a 1,500 km flight. With a simple low powered altimeter radio system it could avoid the ground quite easily.
With converted civilian planes, Iran could possibly launch these missiles from the middle of the Atlantic to hit the United States. This might require some fancy engineering on the part of Iran. The missiles could be mounted on launchers slung under the wings of a heavy cargo plane such as an IL-76, but Iran only has one such airplane in military service. Low-wing commercial aircraft would not provide sufficient ground clearance for such an installation. In principle commercial passenger aircraft could be modified with a bomb-bay, but the structural modifications required would be rather heroic.
A more attractive alternative might consist of arming small ships with single cruise missiles. The modifications required to launch such a small missile would easily escape detection.
Iran's merchant marine fleet is controlled by the state shipping company Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL). It serves now two container services from the port of Bender-e Abbas. One of them goes on a 30-day loop to East Asia, the other reaches Europe via the Suez in 22 days.
In 2003 it was estimated that Iran's merchant marine consisted of 130 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,715,242 GRT / 8,240,069 DWT. This was composed of 40 bulk, 36 cargo, 3 chemical tankers, 7 container, 1 liquefied gas tanker, 5 multifunction large-load carrier, 33 petroleum tankers, 8 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 1 short-sea passenger, and 10 other ships registered in other countries.
Iran's merchant marine fleet is doing relatively well, but the average age of 40% of its vessels is over 20 years, which makes it rather unfit for international competition. In October 2001 an agreement for manufacturing six ships was signed with Germany. The ships will be constructed with a total investment of $188 million in Bandar Abbas under German supervision.
Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex [ISOICO] is a qualified Iranian company, active as shipbuilder and shiprepairer of different types of vessels and contractor of offshore structures. It operates from a production premises on the Persian Gulf (37 km west Bandar Abbas City), shipping to any location offshore or onshore.
The activity of the Company started in the early 1990s as a workshop and a yard. The experience gained in this operation enabled the company to enlarge its sphere of activity to plants and mechanical plant components, then to multidisciplinary projects. Although the offshore experiences is short but ISOICO has played an important role in offshore market, constructing in its Bandar Abbas Yard.
ISOICO shipyard is capable of constructing any type of vessel up to about 4 x 80,000 DWT per year on its existing building berths mainly bulk carrier, containership and oil product carrier using advance technology, which after accomplishing the development in process (i.e. two Dry Docks) the constructing capability will increase for the vessel up to about 2 x 300,000 DWT VLCC or 2 x 140,000 m3 LNG carrier per year in addition to the existing capacity.
An area of about 35 acres (14 hectacres) appears to have been cleared for future construction. (Source: Space Imaging, 2/29/2004)
Construction has begun on the probable Plutonium production reactor.(Source: Digital Globe, 2/27/2005)
A comparison with the analogus Plutonium Production Reactor at Khushab, in Paksitan, reveals similar design elements, including the circular reactor containment vessel, nearby reactor cooling plant, and exhaust gas stack.
Do you for an instant think that even the Iranians are stupid enough to launch 12 cruise missiles at the United State and not expect the retaliation to be total and complete? We have the region on 24/7 AWACS surveillance and could spot such a launch and know exactly where it came from.
Furthermore, the Iranians have yet to build their first weapon, and even if they have, it won't be small enough to be carried aboard this type of cruise missile. A more credible threat would be one of the Iraqi MiGs or Mirages that Saddam parked there in 1991 and never got back.
Debka has the knack of sensational yet meaningless headlines that get people all worked up.
Probably the same people that scream "terrorists" with every green-laser-in-the-cockpit incident.
Oh no! They have 12 cruise missiles! What a joke.
Each of our B52's can carry up to 20 cruise missiles.
Iran will use the missiles to attack Israel, if they can get a nuclear warhead for the cruise missile.
Svoboda (Freedom) #13 (194), 6-12 April 2004 page 7 | Diana Kershenbaum
Previously posted here
InvestigationsOn 25 March the newspaper Den' (known for its close relationship with acting Ukrainian defense minister Evgeniy Marchuk) published a curious interview with the defense minister. It seems that the army has been holding a big sale. Several hundred guided anti-aircraft missiles (ZUR) for use with air defense systems simply... have disappeared without a trace. The details are as yet uncertain, but, according to unofficial sources, there is talk of about 350 rockets type 20D S-75M ("Wolf"), known in NATO circles as the SA-2 "Guideline".
In short, such news is no surprise, especially to anyone familiar with our military's record of property management. From 1991-2003 more than once there have been "weapons mysteries" in the Ukraine, and worse. But until then the source of the stories has not been a declaration by the defense minister himself, with further explanations four days later by his economic and finance aide, as well as a suspiciously violent reaction by a whole host of officials about the possible theft of "resources" of the Ukrainian ministry of defense (MoD).
Aleksandr Kuz'muk is a member of the armed forces committee for questions of national security and defense, and also an army general and people's deputy in President Kuchma's majority party. From 1996-2001 he served as minister of defense of the Ukraine, and until now his only comments on the interview by his colleague-general Evgeniy Marchuk have been: "I won't even comment on this idiot." Well, Aleksandr Ivanovich (Kuz'muk) apparently knows what he's talking about. It's no coincidence that during his term of service at the #1 military slot he received the nickname "sharpshooter", since during many maneuvers his missiles hit anything besides their intended targets. (Note: shortly after 9/11 an off-course Ukrainian SAM destroyed a Russian passenger jet and led to Kuz'muk's resignation.)
But one gets the impression that the ex-minister is beginning to worry. There's enough information to guess that Marchuk's revelations of missile sales wasn't spontaneous, but done in order to keep attention off a major scandal by presenting a somewhat lessor one for the newspapers to gnaw on. This gives the impression that Ukrainian bureaucrats are greater original thinkers than is often the case, but it's a ruse often used by Western image-makers and government officials and is said to come to them from the "academies" of the KGB.
It's probable that the military will have to answer a series of unpleasant questions. For example, how did it occur that the officially "liquidated" RS-18 (NATO SS-19 "Stilleto") which were destroyed or removed from the territory of the Ukraine in 1999, three years later turned out to still have 31 examples sitting in silos and warehouses? Or: what happened to those 230 "extra" nuclear warheads which - according to information from the general headquarters of the Ukrainian armed forces - existed, but - according to a declaration by the MoD - suddenly did not exist? The fact of the matter is, that the MoD reported on the transfer or destruction by the Ukraine of 3772 nuclear warheads, while the general staff reported that there were more than 4000. This "miscalculation" (for want of a stronger term) either occurred during the time of General/People's Deputy Kuz'muk's reign at the ministry of defense, or the conflicting data was published during his term. It's highly likely that until the end of 2000 the Ukrainian ministry of defense "increased" its supply of nuclear warheads by 25% in order to receive a corresponding increase in active international financing and aid in removing these weapons.
Besides the above, in April of 1998 a parliamentary investigative commision on the matter of unsanctioned weapons sales became interested in a letter by the assistant minister of defense - commander of the 43rd rocket army Colonel-General Vladimir Mikhtyuk. The letter, dated December 17th, 1997, detailed cooperation with the Russian MoD in the sale of 24 ICBMs of the type 15A35 RS-18 (NATO SS-19 "Stilleto"). Ukrainian paliamentary deputies were at the time more worried about where the profits from these illegal sales had ended up, and because of this they missed the most interesting part: of the 24 rockets that where sent to Russia... only 19 arrived (according to Ukrainian MoD information). The fate of the remaining 5 ICBMs is still unknown.
Of course, 5 missing rockets, that's no big deal. It's not like it's 350. But in this latest disclosure we're discussing anti-aircraft surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, which were known even to the older generation as the ones that shot down Gary Powers (and taking down a MiG-19 which was chasing him as well). The more modern (and absolutely combat-ready) ICBMs weigh in at 106 tons and are able to hit a target 10 thousand kilometers away. The rockets carry 6 nuclear warheads, each with the destructive power of several hundred thousand tons of TNT. So it's not far from the truth that Marchukov's announcement in March about the "SAM sales" is not the biggest scandal.
None the less, it's curious that though the Ukraine is required by the UN to declare her transfers of conventional weapons to other countries (including these SAMs), the above mentioned 5 missing ICBMs or 300 "extra" nuclear warheads attract no interest. Is it possible that these "sales operations" are connected in some way?
On the utilization of SAMs, ICBMs, and other "missile secrets" of Ukrainian MoD, we're not finished: In 1999-2000 our country sold Russia 581 KRVB long-range winged missiles type Kh-55SM (also known as the RKB-500 or by its NATO name AS-15 "Kent"). This deal was widely published in the news as the next step in the Ukraine's strategic disarmament, and did not summon the slightest suspicion by our mass media, though no details of the sale or execution of the contract on the Russian side ever surfaced.
It now appears that Russia received 575 KRVB Kh-55SM "Kents". Of course, the six missing missiles
could be written off as either wrecked during warehousing, or "transferred to another authority", or the newspapers may have mistaken some of the numbers. But why then did the Ukraine the following year suddenly rush to sell Russia another 6 Kh-55s? Since there were no more Kh-55SMs, why did the Russians buy six older Kh-55s of an earlier series? After this reminder any further mention of the Kh-55 sales completely disappeared from the Russian mass media. It's possible to understand - Russia got her 581 rockets. But, according to our data, there were 587 rockets sold, and therefore the question where did the missing rockets end up still remains unanswered.
The Kh-55 - it's not an ICBM RS-18, but this two-ton "toy" can carry a 250 kt nuclear warhead 2500-3000 kilometers. In order not to give away technical details, we will remark only the the famous "Tomahawk" cannot hold a candle to the Kh-55. In any case, during the same timeframe yet another rocket deal was made with Russia. Our eastern neighbor was sent 386 Kh-22 air-launched ballistic missiles. Information about the deal was not published until the culmination, but if the deal was a clean one, why were no details released by the military or by the MoD to the UN?
It would be illegal for the MoD to remove even one piece of goverment-owned property from the state's inventory, bookkeeping, and control. The suspicious circumstances and quasi-legal sale and of even one rocket, or the diversion of these public funds to private persons, is a great crime. But the corruption is much wider and more universal. For example: in 2001 according to the inventory by our armed forces, 200 tanks were in use and combat-ready. And they were happy about it. But now it has been shown that from 2000-2001 in the Ukrainian armed forces only 10(!) tanks were in use.
From one point of view, there is optimism. Since the tanks are still there, it means no one stole them. But as much as the utilization of tanks costs money, it would be interesting to find out where did the money go that was to be used for maintenance of the other 190 tanks which according to the military were being utilized and at full combat readiness?
By becoming acquainted with such "unknown expenditures", you'll understand what's hidden behind yet another mystery, which has been bothering civilian observers of the military in our mass media. Every year our country sends official reports to 29 countries (including Iceland and Luxembourg) which document the activities and order of battle of our armed forces, in accordance with the Conventional Forces Europe agreement of 1991. In this regular report every country as a signatory to the treaty voluntarily gives up data about the number of its soldiers and weapons, including how many tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft, helicopters, and ships. And data on the organization and responsibilities of various regiments and higher which control these "riches", and even the location of these formations.
But what is surprising: this order of battle is never published in our country. The logical explanation can only be that if the information became known to the general public, many of the widely advertised businesses working with the Ukrainian MoD (especially those responsible for the missile "sales" in 2001) could be shown to be thieves. And no one, of course, wants to have to deal with that.
And so, it's almost a paradox - Kuz'muk should owes Marchuk a great debt. While the Ukrainian MoD (together with their croneys at the Ukrainian security service and federal prosecutor's office) will go out and catch a few thieves who are breaking down museum relics for the rare metals, the stories about other rockets (each of which cost much than an entire Spring Sale) doesn't attract the slightest interest. It follows that Evgeniy Kirillovich (Marchuk) has all the more reason to take offense at Aleksandr Ivanovich (Kuz'muk) for his denounciation.
Simply put, it's known that the majority of Ukrainian politicians and bureaucrats do not suffer from feelings of gratitude, nor from elementary far-sightedness. We won't rule out that soon will be seeing yet another "rocket scandal".
The Tomahawksi is the name used for a much newer weapon called the 'Klub' cruise missile.
I wonder about this statement. They are going to have to buy a lot of pictures and digitize them themselves, or pay for digitized maps and expose the target list.
How come they never state the obvious, that it puts the bulk of the American Army in their sights in Iraq next door? Iran has said repeatidly that they would burn Americas 190,000 man army if attacked. I think it is pretty obvious that Iran intends to nuke us in Iraq.
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