JERUSALEM – Israel’s Arrow missile defense system intercepted and destroyed a missile similar to Iran’s long-range Shahab-3 during a test Friday, prompting Israel’s defense minister to declare it an effective shield against a possible future Iranian nuclear threat.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that in light of Iran’s recent threats against Israel and efforts to develop non-conventional weapons, Israel needs an effective shield.
“The state of Israel, which is a clear target of each of these missiles and of the production stations of Iran’s non-conventional weapons, reserves the right to have other capabilities to prevent this threat,” he said.
Iran’s Shahab-3 can be equipped with nuclear warheads and can reach Israel, as well as several U.S. military installations in the Middle East. Israeli concerns were heightened after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in October said Israel must be “wiped off the map.”
State-owned Israel Aircraft Industries and U.S.-based Boeing Co. began developing the Arrow system after
Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991
The test Friday was carried out at an air force base in central Israel. It was the 14th test of the system, and the first trial since a failed test last year.
“The launch was successful. The significance is that the Arrow arms project proved another part of its range of operations against the Iranian threat,” Aryeh Herzog, head of the Arrow project in the Defense Ministry, told Israel Channel Two TV.
Meanwhile, Russian media sources reported Friday that Russia has agreed to sell more than $1 billion worth of missiles and other defense systems to Iran.
The Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies cited unidentified sources in the Russian military-industrial complex as saying that Russian and Iranian officials had signed contracts in November that would send up to 30 Tor-M1 missile systems to Iran in the next two years.
Interfax said the Tor-M1 system could identify up to 48 targets and fire at two targets simultaneously at a height of up to 20,000 feet.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said he was unaware of the reported deal between Russia and Iran, but said it would harm regional security.
“When a country hopes to strengthen the military potential of Iran, they are serving to strengthen the most negative elements in the region,” Regev told The Associated Press.
Israel has long said that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose the greatest threat to it and Mideast stability. On Thursday, Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon said that although diplomacy is still the first option for stopping Iran’s nuclear aspirations, the world also has military options to halt the process.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes. But last month, the
European Union accused Iran of having documents that show how to make nuclear warheads, and joined the U.S. in warning Tehran that it could face referral to the
U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.