Iran’s missile test muscle flex
CARLO BASILONE (VOICEOVER): Iranian state television showed footage of nine long- and medium-range missiles being launched on Wednesday. The missiles were fired during war games, and officials say they are a response to recent threats of attack by the US and Israel.
GENERAL HOSSEIN SALAMI, CMNDR OF REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS GROUND FORCES (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We want to tell the world that those who conduct their foreign policy by using the language of threat against Iran have to know that our finger is always on the trigger, and that we have hundreds, and even thousands of missiles ready to be fired against predetermined targets. We will chase the enemies on the ground and in the sky. And we are able to react strongly to enemy threats in the shortest possible time.
BASILONE: State media reported that the missiles included a new version of the Shahab-3 missile, with a range of 1,250 miles. In a report in 2005, David Isenberg, senior analyst with the Washington-based British American Security Information Council and an adjunct scholar at the CATO Institute, stated that the Shahab-3 is a scaled-up version of the Russian Scud-B and Scud-C missiles. The accuracy at its range of 800 miles has been estimated at no better than two miles of its target. The drill came less than a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he saw no possibility of a war with the United States or Israel. In June, Israel’s military sent war planes over the eastern Mediterranean for a large military exercise that US officials described as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In Tehran on Wednesday, there were mixed reactions to the missiles’ launch.
SHAYESTEH, LOCAL RESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The two sides had better use diplomacy rather than force, guns and weapons. However, when they (the US and Israel) show their teeth, Iran must also show its claws to them. But I am quite sure that no war will take place.
NEJATI, LOCAL RESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): It should not be such that the US and Israel threaten Iran and we do not show any reaction. I think Iran’s reaction is positive, because it was them who threatened Iran, not the other way round. We should prove that we can stand up to their threats.
BASILONE: Though tensions have risen, an Israeli military historian dismissed the possibility of a confrontation between Israel and Iran as unlikely.
DR. MARTIN VAN CREVELD, ISRAELI MILITARY HISTORIAN: They know very well that to attack Israel is suicide. In fact, it is the fastest way to put an end to a 5,000-year-old civilization. They are not crazy. They are not very eager to go to heaven. They will be deterred by Israel just as the nuclear terrorists that worked everywhere else in the world without one exception since 1945.
BASILONE: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about the Iranian missile tests.
REPORTER: And are we any closer to a military confrontation with Iran?
ROBERT GATES, US DEFENSE SECRETARY : No, I don’t think so. I think everybody recognizes what the consequences of any kind of a conflict would be. And I will tell you that this government is working hard to make sure that the diplomatic and economic approach to dealing with Iran and trying to get the Iranian government to change its policies is the strategy and is the approach that continues to dominate.
BASILONE: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on all three network morning shows on Wednesday called for tougher sanctions and direct diplomacy.
BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think we’ve got to gather up all the intelligence necessary with the situation. But there is no doubt that we’re seeing rising tensions in the area, and it’s part of the reason why it’s so important for us to have a coherent policy with respect to Iran. It has to combine much tougher threats of economic sanctions with direct diplomacy, opening up channels of communication, so that we avoid provocation but we give strong incentives for the Iranians to change their behavior.
BASILONE: In an interview on NBC, Republican candidate John McCain continued to claim that Iran’s goals are nuclear weapons and the destruction of Israel.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R): Well, it’s very disturbing, and it’s part of that trend of the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them on the part of the Iranians, who continue to state their commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. So it’s very disturbing. We need to act very closely with our friends and allies, both in Europe and in other regions, to impose meaningful, effective sanctions on the Iranians.
BASILONE: Appearing before the House Foreign Relations Committee, Undersecretary of State William Burns said that a nuclear threat from Iran is not yet possible.
WILLIAM BURNS, US UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: While deeply troubling, Iran’s real nuclear progress has been less than the sum of its boasts. It has not yet perfected enrichment. And as a direct result of UN sanctions, Iran’s ability to procure technology or items of significance for its nuclear and missile programs, even dual-use items, has been impaired.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.