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World Its Missiles Did Little Damage, but Iran Has More Potent Weapons

02:55  09 january  2020
02:55  09 january  2020 Source:   nytimes.com

Iran vows 'harsh retaliation' after US airstrike kills Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani

  Iran vows 'harsh retaliation' after US airstrike kills Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday warned that a "harsh retaliation is waiting" for the U.S. after an airstrike on an airport in Baghdad killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.The Iranian state TV carried a statement by Khamenei who also called Soleimani "the international face of resistance." Khamenei declared three days of public mourning for the general's death.

Iranian -backed militias in Iraq, who also lost one of their leaders in the drone strike that killed General Suleimani, said Wednesday that they would seek their own revenge. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian -backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, has said that it would do so as well.

Its Missiles Did Little Damage , but Iran Has More Potent Weapons . Trump’s Iran Strategy: A Cease-Fire Wrapped in a Strategic Muddle. Mr. Trump has yet to resolve the two conflicting instincts on national security that emerge from his speeches and his Twitter feed: bellicosity and disengagement.

American military and intelligence officials were stunned at the precision, scale and sheer boldness of what they later concluded was an Iranian attack.

Iran has vowed revenge against the U.S. But it seems to be in no hurry.

  Iran has vowed revenge against the U.S. But it seems to be in no hurry. Iran has many options to strike back. The quandary is to avoid an all-out war.The drone strike that ended the life of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the strategy’s architect and chief enforcer, blew up that calculation, creating a stunning new dilemma for Iran’s leaders as they look for ways to retaliate — without the benefit of their master strategist.

Iran has one of the largest and most diverse missile arsenals in the Middle East. According to a report from late last year from the US Defence Intelligence Credits: Iranian Press TV. Two missiles , two bases. “ Iran has an extensive missile development programme, and the size and sophistication of its

Iran has not commented directly on the missile launch. When asked about it at a news conference on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said only that "the missile issue is not part of the nuclear deal". Iran says its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes

Four months ago, a swarm of low-flying armed drones and cruise missiles struck oil tanks in the central hub of the Saudi petroleum industry, catching Washington by surprise and temporarily knocking out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply. Almost no country in the region — Israel may be the exception — could have defended against it.

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The Iranian attack on American military posts in Iraq early Wednesday — the only direct attack on the United States or its allies claimed by Iran since the seizure of the American Embassy in 1979 — relied on ballistic missiles and inflicted little damage.

Iran Fires on U.S. Forces at 2 Bases in Iraq, Saying ‘Fierce Revenge’ Has Begun

  Iran Fires on U.S. Forces at 2 Bases in Iraq, Saying ‘Fierce Revenge’ Has Begun Iran attacked two bases in Iraq that house American troops with a barrage of missiles early Wednesday, Iranian official news media and United States officials said, the start of what Tehran had promised would be retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian commander. “The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said in a statement on a Telegram messaging app channel.American officials in Washington said that Iran had fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq where American troops are stationed.

Tehran has said that its hands are now untied in dictating the movement of armaments over its borders but stressed that it has no intention to engage in an arms race. The Islamic republic has also noted that weapons of mass destruction have no place in its defence doctrine.

Since 2015, India has spent more on arms imports than any other country save Saudi Arabia These more broadly-worded bans could conceivably complicate small-scale procurements favored by less Tabar's weapon suite includes vertical long range Surface to Air and Surface to Surface Missiles

But with tensions between the United States and Iran at the highest level in four decades, the unexpected success of the September strike on the Saudi oil facilities is a stark reminder that Tehran has an array of stealthier weapons in its arsenal that could pose far greater threats if the hostilities escalate.

Iran has denied responsibility for the Saudi attack. But American officials have concluded Iran was behind it, by sending the drones and missiles from Iran or southern Iraq.

Iran’s conventional military has deteriorated severely during the country’s relative isolation since the Islamic revolution of 1979. But Tehran has spent those decades cultivating less conventional capabilities that are now among the most potent in the world and which are ideally suited for carrying out asymmetrical warfare against a superpower like the United States.

Iran commands one of the region’s largest arsenals of ballistic and cruise missiles, a network of allied militant groups around the region with as many as 250,000 fighters, and teams of computer hackers that American officials rank among the most dangerous.

Trump aides to brief Congress on Iran as Tehran retaliates over killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani

  Trump aides to brief Congress on Iran as Tehran retaliates over killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani Pompeo, Esper, Milley and Haspel are expected to face questions about the administration's assertion that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks.Members of Congress initially sought Wednesday's closed-door briefings to learn more about President Donald Trump's surprise decision last week to authorize a drone strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran's second most powerful official.

Iran has already warned of a devastating response to any second level of US attacks -- in a message that might be tailored as much to its domestic audience as Trump, so the ball is Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now.

Iran reveals huge underground missile silo in the desert: Tehran broadcasts footage of its weapons Footage shows a tunnel stuffed with weapons , trucks and parts from a Qiam-1 The scene cuts to soldiers removing metal casing from a large part of a missile

It has also developed sophisticated armed and surveillance drones. And lacking a strong conventional navy, it has sought other ways to choke off the flow of Persian Gulf oil, with a fleet of small speedboats and a stockpile of underwater mines.

“Their offensive capability is drastically greater than the defensive capability that is arrayed against them,” said Jack Watling, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, a London security research center. “Their ability to inflict significant damage makes the cost of war with Iran quite severe.”

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The ineffectual attack on Wednesday demonstrated the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles — some traveling more than 600 miles — but also their poor accuracy, with several landing well outside their presumed targets. Some analysts suggested that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may have intentionally ordered a symbolic but relatively harmless attack to show Iranian citizens a forceful response without provoking an all-out war with Washington.

“Khamenei has to calibrate the response so that it is enough for Iran not to lose face but not so much that Iran loses its head,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a scholar of Iran at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But Tehran and its allies may still be plotting less overt forms of revenge for the American killing last week of the Iranian military commander Qassim Suleimani. Many analysts contend that Iran and its militant allies are reverting to their pattern of covert or indirect attacks that leave no clear evidence of Iranian responsibility.

Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, who also lost one of their leaders in the drone strike that killed General Suleimani, said Wednesday that they would seek their own revenge. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, has said that it would do so as well.

Iran has also shown a longstanding interest in assassinations, a tactic that could match the vows of Iranian officials to take “proportionate” measures to avenge General Suleimani. Several Iran experts said that killing an American official, presumably in the region, might be the eye-for-an-eye that Tehran is seeking.

As U.S.-Iran Tensions Flare, Iraq Is Caught in the Middle

  As U.S.-Iran Tensions Flare, Iraq Is Caught in the Middle The walls of the American Embassy in Baghdad were still on fire and members of pro-Iranian armed groups were chanting threats outside, when Iraq’s prime minister tried to explain the situation to President Trump. “Iraq is between friends who are 5,000 miles away from us and a neighbor we’ve had for 5,000 years,” Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said in a New Year’s Day telephone call with Mr. Trump, according to a close adviser, Abdul Hussain al-Hunain. “We cannot change geography and we cannot change history, and this is the reality in Iraq. ”Iraq is caught in a vise.

“I certainly would not be going out to many public places, because the risk of getting whacked or kidnapped is very high,” said Sir John Jenkins, a former British ambassador in Saudi Arabia.

But Iran has a dismal success rate in assassinating foreign officials.

Iran has tried and failed to kill Israeli diplomats in Thailand, Georgia and India, and to bomb a rally near Paris where Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, was speaking. In 2011, American law enforcement agents broke up a particularly brazen and inept Iranian plot to hire thugs from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million to blow up an Italian restaurant in Washington in order to kill a Saudi diplomat.

“We almost couldn’t believe it,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Pentagon official who oversaw its Iran task forces at the time. “Everybody looking at the intelligence thought it was just crazy noise, until a first payment of $150,000 showed up in a bank account.”

The September attack against Saudi Arabia presented a frightening alternative, in part because it exposed a vulnerable spot in most missile-defense systems. Most are built to defend against ballistic rockets, and almost none are equipped to detect and stop a large number of low-flying, high-speed drones and cruise missiles.

Officials said that the attack demonstrated that Iran’s technology was more advanced than American intelligence agencies had expected.

“The attack on oil fields in Saudi was stunning in the depth of its audaciousness,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, said in a recent interview.

Tal Inbar, former director of the space research center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, a now-closed Israeli research organization, said the precision of the attack could not have been achieved using only a GPS system. “Much better capabilities were deployed in this attack,” he said, “possibly a camera on the missile and the drones, which compares reality with a target image.”

'The world is watching': Trump tweets in support of Iran protests

  'The world is watching': Trump tweets in support of Iran protests "We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage," President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday."The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people," Trump tweeted in English and Farsi. "There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.

Unlike more advanced American or Chinese drones, Iranian drones cannot fire missiles from the air. But they can be loaded with explosives, as they were thought to be in the Saudi attack, to become remote-guided missiles.

Iran’s longest-range cruise missiles can strike more than 1,500 miles from Iran’s borders, reaching almost anywhere in the Persian Gulf. China, Russia and North Korea have provided Iran with technology and munitions, and Iran has produced remote-controlled drones domestically.

Until recently, though, Iran has preferred to rely on its network of militant allies around the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, an array of Iraqi militias now organized as the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Houthis in Yemen, and other groups across the region. Some, like Hezbollah or the Iraqi forces, are now so large, well-equipped and institutionalized that they more closely resemble professional militaries than informal militias.

“That is what extends Iran’s power far beyond its borders,” said Afshon Ostovar, a scholar of the Iranian military at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

The Trump administration’s sweeping economic sanctions on Iran over the past year have damaged its economy and reduced its ability to fund its militant allies. But a report this week from the Center for Strategic and International Affairs concluded that the total number of fighters in the full network of Iranian-backed militias has continued to grow steadily, to an estimated range of nearly 150,000 to more than 250,000.

And despite the efforts of the United States and Israel, Iran has continued to smuggle missiles of various ranges and abilities to its proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, according to Israeli and American defense officials.

The latest cycle of attacks between the United States and Iran started with a rocket attack that killed an American contractor in Iraq. The United States retaliated with a strike on an Iranian-backed militia, beginning a cycle of escalation.

But far from ending such rocket attacks, some of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have said that even without Iranian encouragement they now intended to step up their attacks on American forces in order to drive them out of the country.

“I think we are settling in for what is going to be a bumpy period of conflict,” Mr. Ostovar said.

Cyberattacks — a weapon that can cause severe damage halfway around the world with low costs and few fingerprints — may be Iran’s wild card.

Cybersecurity experts and government officials have already spotted an increase in malicious activity by pro-Iranian hackers and social media users that they believe could foreshadow more serious computer attacks from Tehran.

American officials and independent cybersecurity experts say that Iranian malware attacks on Saudi Arabia have been among the most damaging of such assaults in history, causing at least tens of millions of dollars in damages.

A 2012 attack that American officials attributed to Iran overwrote the hard drives of the Saudi state oil company Aramco with the image of a burning American flag. A second attack in 2016 and 2017 destroyed files of the Saudi central bank, certain government ministries and several private companies. That time, a famous photograph of a drowned Syrian refugee child appeared on computer screens.

The former director of national of intelligence Dan Coats ranked Iran as one of the four most dangerous sources of cyberthreats last year, along with Russia, China and North Korea.

“It is capable of causing localized, temporary disruptive effects — such as disrupting a large company’s corporate networks for days to weeks — similar to its data deletion attacks against dozens of Saudi governmental and private-sector networks,” he said.

One apparently low-level Iranian attack has already sought to avenge General Suleimani. Iranian hackers temporarily captured the website of the United States’ government’s Federal Depository Library Program and replaced its contents with a eulogy for the general.

“Hacked by Iran Cyber Security Group Hackers,” text on the website read. “This is only small part of Iran’s cyber ability!”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

'The world is watching': Trump tweets in support of Iran protests .
"We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage," President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday."The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people," Trump tweeted in English and Farsi. "There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.

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