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News Archives: Ship-Launched Threat
Obering on Ship-Launched Threat, Plans for Expansion
Most worrisome is the proliferation of Scud-type missiles throughout the world, many of which have ranges of up to 500 km. “We expect to be surprised,” said Obering, noting the unconventional nature of terrorist attacks. MDA spokesman Rick Lehner is also cited as saying that some $20 million is in next year’s defense budget to study the threat.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has noted the threat from ship-launched missiles on a number of occasions. General Obering’s comments are quite welcome, and raise the possibility of a significantly expanded missile defense effort capable of dealing with such attacks. The ground-based missile defense architecture currently being deployed in Alaska and California cannot do so.
Iran Tests Suggest Possible EMP Trials
Some of Iran’s tests of its Shahab-3 had been terminated before the completion of their ballistic trajectories, that is, exploding in mid-flight by what appeared to be a self-destruct mechanism. Iran has nevertheless described the tests as fully “successful.” Pry noted that the apparent contradiction would make sense “if Iran were practicing the execution of an EMP attack.” Lowell Wood is quoted as having testified to the subcommittee that such an attack upon the United States could keep off most electrical functions for a time period of a few hours or decades, depending on how it was executed. Wood also warned the subcommittee that such an EMP warhead could be delivered against the United States by “a Scud missile launched from a freighter off the Atlantic coast.”
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security, wrote about the EMP threat in the April 15 edition of the Washington Post.
Joseph Farah from World Net Daily carries a related story today, available online.
Iran Deploys Scud Missiles on ShipsCiting U.S. officials, Middle East Newsline today reports that Iran has deployed a number of short-range and medium-range Scud ballistic missiles aboard cargo vessels, and equipped them to be launched from the ships. The ships are said to be stationed in the northern Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. The officials also said that Iran began deployment of ship-based missiles in 1997, and that several such vessels are already so equipped.
Fisher on North Korean Missile Threat
The columnists note that although the CIA had expected the missile to be displayed in a military parade during September 2003, the display did not take place.
Mr. Fisher also notes that the ship-launch scenario is North Korea’s “simplest option,” whereby they could load the missile onto a merchant ship and launch it against an American coastal city from a comfortable range.
In the past, officials including Donald Rumsfeld have spoken of an unnamed rogue state having tested a ship-launched missile. The columnists positively identify Iran as the nation who tested a ballistic missile in the late 1990s from a merchant vessel.
Rumsfeld Speaks at Space and Missile Defense Conference
Among other things, Rumsfeld noted that “History has taught us that weakness is provocative,” and warned that some two dozen countries currently have ballistic missiles and other WMD programs, including North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran.
Rumsfeld noted that the United States would have a limited defense by the end of the year, but stressed the importance that it continue to evolve to match the growing capabilities of those countries, terrorists, and other extremists who threaten America.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that Rumsfeld apparently repeated his previous observations about the threat from a ship-launched ballistic missile. Gertz and Scarborough in the August 27 edition of Inside the Ring report the following from Rumsfeld:
Mr. Rumsfeld also was asked about the danger of terrorists or rogue states attacking the United States by putting a short-range Scud-type missile on a freighter and firing it close to U.S. shores.
He said one Middle East nation already has “launched a ballistic missile from a cargo vessel.”
“They had taken a short-range, probably Scud missile, put it on a transporter-erector launcher, lowered it in, taken the vessel out into the water, peeled back the top, erected it, fired it, lowered it, covered it up. And the ship that they used was using a radar and electronic equipment that was no different than 50, 60, 100 other ships operating in the immediate area.”
Other U.S. officials have said the nation was Iran, which tested a freighter-launched missile in the Caspian Sea in the late 1990s.
“It is true that the big distinction we make between intercontinental, medium-range and shorter-range ballistic missiles doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re going to move the missile closer to the target,” he said.
Wolfowitz: Ship-Launched Missiles Threaten United States
While much of the discussion of the ballistic missile threat is focused on outlaw states developing long-range ballistic missiles that could reach our shores and those of our friends and allies, let me share with you another possibility. We know that North Korea, Iran and Iraq are developing long-range ballistic missiles. That is the familiar line of threat development. But what is to stop such countries from launching shorter-range ballistic missiles that they already possess today from cargo ships near our shores, perhaps using non-state terrorist surrogates to attack without fingerprints. It’s not a far-fetched threat. The United States test launched a captured German V-2 rocket from the deck of a ship in 1947. And recently we have observed indications of an outlaw state attempting to do the same thing with a short-range ballistic missile from a ship.
Rumsfeld on Ship Launched Missile Threat
Question: “…as far as we know, Saddam Hussein does not have a delivery system of carrying weapons of mass destruction to CONUS—to the shores of the United States—no ICBMs that can reach us, as far as we know. And yet intelligence sources say that North Korea will have missiles capable of hitting Alaska in 2004 and, with a smaller warhead, the West Coast of the United States. Militarily, could not a case be made that North Korea poses a greater threat to the United States than Iraq does? …
Rumsfeld: “…September 11th suggested lots of ways to deliver lethal damage to the United States.
In addition, countries have placed ballistic missiles in ships—cargo ships, commercial ships, dime a dozen—all over the world. Any given time, there’s any number off our coast, coming, going, on transporter-erector-launchers, and they simply erect it, fire off a ballistic missile, put it down, cover it up. Their radar signature’s not any different than other 50 others in close proximity. So your comment that they don’t have the ability to deliver a ballistic missile to this country is flat wrong.
Rumsfeld: Rogue State has Test-Launched Ship-Based Missile
Rumsfeld did not elaborate, commenting: “I’m calculating in my mind what is classified and what is not.”
But he was quite clear that “a rogue state has done that… They have fired a ballistic missile from a ship simply by peeling back the top, erecting it, firing it off, launching it a good distance, and covering it back up and moving the ship away.”
Rumsfeld also responded to a journalist’s question about chemical or biological missile warheads that, “Yes, there is proof that rogue states have demonstrated the use of chemical weapons on ballistic missiles.”
Rumsfeld did not identify what countries were involved in these programs, but noted that within the admittedly “imperfect phrase” ‘rogue states’, “certainly you would include in that category North Korea and Iraq and Iran and Libya—and North Korea.”
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