Israel Resource Review 21st June, 2006


Think Tank: Iran's Military Capability Second Only to Israel in the Middle East

[With thanks to the Middle East News Line for publishing this news item - db]

The London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies has determined that Iran has been deemed the second most powerful country in the Middle East.

This institute has determined that even without nuclear weapons, Iran could defeat virtually every country in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel. They point to Iran's large military, arsenal of intermediate-range ballistic missiles and growing defense industry, with more than 200,000 engineers and technicians.

"Iranian leaders believe an effective defensive deterrence can force their enemies to relinquish their threats of pre-emption, believing that such a move would be too costly," the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies said.

In its latest annual military balance, IISS reported that Iran -- with the assistance of China, North Africa, Pakistan and Russia -- manufactures nearly 2,000 products for the military as well as 42 export clients. IISS cited munitions, aircraft, missiles, naval vessels and satellites.

The institute's Military Balance 2006 reported that Iranian assembly lines established in the 1970s continue to operate. The assembly line, set up by such U.S. companies as Northrop Grumman, Bell and Litton, have produced helicopters, aircraft, guided missiles, electronic components and main battle tanks.

Iran's defense industry, under the control of the Defense Ministry and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was expanded during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988. IISS said Iran has established 19 state-owned defense contractors that employ more than 100,000 technicians and engineers.

"The war turned the Iranians into military professionals and created an industrial infrastructure capable of meeting nearly every requirement of the Iranian armed forces," IISS said in the annual military balance released in May 2006.

A defense facility in Lorestan could produce 80,000 aircraft tires per year. IISS said this made Iran the first country in the Middle East -- and the seventh in the world -- with such production capabilities.

Moreover, Iran has been producing rockets and missiles with ranges from 45 to 2,000 kilometers. IISS said Iran contains the third largest helicopter fleet in the world.

Iran has also been producing a range of unmanned aerial vehicles, making it one of the largest producers in the world of such platforms. IISS cited Qods Aviation Industries, which manufactures UAVs for reconnaissance, combat and other missions.

In the naval field, Iran has developed everything from anti-ship missiles to midget and medium submarines. IISS also cited the indigenous production of fast attack missile boats.

"Iran is a formidable military power, second only to Israel in the Middle East," Patrick Seale, a leading analyst on the Middle East, said. "This is the judgement of most Western observers."

In an article in the London-based Al Hayat, Seale said Iran, which exports military products to seven European countries, would employ its military to resist U.S. efforts to halt Teheran's nuclear program. Seale said an Iranian nuclear bomb would also prevent an Israeli or U.S. strike.

For its part, IISS determined that Iran's strategy was based on what it termed strategic deterrent defense. The institute said this meant that Iran could "absorb a first strike and then initiate immediate retaliation with all means available."

"But only if such a move serves the political ends, and does not threaten the very existence of the Islamic regime," IISS said. =

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