Con Coughlin / The Daily Telegraph – 2007-06-25 23:00:48
(June 25, 2007) — Iran is deploying missiles in Syria in preparation for military action if it is attacked over its nuclear program, UN officials in the region said.
Under a mutual defense pact signed between Damascus and Tehran in 2005, Syria agreed to the deployment of sophisticated weaponry on its territory.
The Iranians have now decided to implement the agreement following a meeting last month of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, which is chaired by a former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Iran is preparing to transfer dozens of medium-range Shahab-3 and Russian-made Scud-C missiles, together with Scud-B missiles. Most of the missiles can be fired from mobile launchers and are capable of hitting targets right across Israel.
“Iran is preparing itself for the possibility of military action over its nuclear program,” a senior U.N. official in Lebanon said.
“If Iran is attacked then this will give it a number of retaliation options.”
U.N. officials said work on the new missile storage facilities will begin next month and will take about a year to complete.
Besides shipping the weapons, Iran has also sent missile engineers to help to train the Syrian military and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group with which Israel fought last year’s war.
In addition, Iran is reported to have made similar arrangements with the Sudanese government to enable it to attack pro-Western Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia.
Tehran’s decision to deploy missiles abroad is taken at a time when it finds itself under mounting international pressure over its nuclear program.
Last week, it announced that it had processed 100 kilograms of uranium to a level that would enable it to move quickly toward producing weapons-grade material.
In a separate development, Russia was reported last week to be about to sell advanced fighter jets to Syria in a move that is already causing disquiet in Israel.
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