The Iranian government announced today that it had successfully test-fired a missile capable of both evading radar and hitting multiple, independent targets, suggesting for the first time that the Islamic Republic has developed a MIRV system capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads throughout the region:
Iran’s military said Friday it successfully test-fired a missile not detectable by radar that can use multiple warheads to hit several targets simultaneously, a development that raised concerns in the United States and
The Fajr-3, which means “victory” in Farsi, can reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East, Iranian state media indicated. The announcement of the test-firing is likely to stoke regional tensions and feed suspicion about Tehran’s military intentions and nuclear ambitions. …
Andy Oppenheimer, a weapons expert at Jane’s Information Group, said the missile test could be an indication that Iran has MIRV capability. MIRV refers to multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, which are intercontinental ballistic missiles with several warheads, each of which could be directed to a different target.
“From the description, it could be a MIRV. If you are saying that from a single missile, separate warheads can be independently targeted then yes, this is significant,” he said.
The question is how true this news actually is, and whether it means that the Iranians have a nuclear device to sit atop the missile. Most analysts think that the Iranians may be as far as five years away from a nuclear warhead, and that the Shahab-3 might be a more likely delivery system, at least initially. No one has a clear idea whether the Iranians truly have a radar-evading missile as they claim, as their footage of the tests did not show much about the missile or its launch.
If the Iranians have told the truth about the missile, it represents a dangerous escalation of the standoff over its nuclear program. The ability to pierce the missile defenses of Israel will mean that stopping Iran’s nuclear program takes on an even more urgent cast. It almost guarantees that Israel and the US will have to take pre-emptive action to destroy or at least cripple the nuclear program in Iran.
The Iranians had better be careful. If this is gamesmanship and bluff, they may have pushed it too far. If it isn’t, it would appear that the nuclear warheads that the Fajr-3 will carry are closer than anyone has guessed thus far. In either case, the missile announcement brings us closer to military action to stop the mullahs.