One might not be too much impressed anymore with reports about Iranian missile tests, seeing as Iran is still wrecked by student uprisings while their president uses his UN podium time to deny the Holocaust. Fortunately there is John Noonan at The Weekly Standard to explain why they are something to worry about nevertheless.
First, the Sajjil-2 is a solid fuel rocket. That’s the type of power source that we use in our own Minuteman III rockets, as solid fuel is stable in flight and requires no preparation time ahead of a launch. Liquid fuel, which powers the Iranian Shahab-3 fleet, is highly corrosive and sloshes around in a rocket’s downstage, destabilizing flight and degrading accuracy. It’s so toxic that the fuel eats away at a missile’s internal tanks, and thus needs to be inserted right before launch. That prep time is important, as it gives us a little extra warning prior to a hostile missile launch, which could be used to kill Iranian birds before they fly. With this new Sajjil-2 system, Iran has the ability to keep their missiles hot and ready for execution, killing any chance of an advanced warning or neutralization actions prior to a launch.
No good stuff, certainly. So far though, it appears only Israel really has to worry.
Second concern is that this missile is staged. Our Minuteman III ICBMs are a three stage, solid fuel system that have impressive range and accuracy (particularly impressive considering the fact that the fleet is approaching its 40th anniversary). Iran now has a two stage, solid fuel rocket. When they figure out how to add that third stage to the Sajill-2, they’ll have a delivery system with the legs to reach the east coast of the United States.
Wonderful. This means that when they’re done, Iran has the ability not only to threaten Israel, NATO, and American military bases throughout the region but the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.
What’s more, Noonan notes that these missiles are built for a specific purpose: “strategic delivery of a nuclear reentry system.”
So what is America doing? For one thing, it announced its intention to isolate Iran financially, stopping money from going in and, hopefully, from going out, for it’s Iranian cash that is financing such nastiness as Hezbollah and the war in Yemen, among other things.
Washington also intends to loosen sanctions on computer software and boost acces to Internet services as Google and Twitter, seeing as how these are helping students organize themselves in protests against the government that are still happening throughout the country every now and then. Isolating the problem and attempting to destabilize it from within seems to be the approach nowadays — something that sounds a bit like good ol’ fashioned containment, don’t you think?