Revolutionary Guards launch surface-to-surface missile 390 R.
(photo credit: Rauf Mohseni/Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Iran’s missile program is becoming increasingly self-reliant, lessening the ability of the international community to limit its capabilities, the architect of Israel’s missile defense system warned on Friday.
As Iran’s technological know-how and its skill at constructing its own components grows, Western countries have fewer opportunities to delay its program by refusing to sell Tehran equipment or by supplying faulty parts, said Uzi Rubin, who founded the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Association.
“It is less and less dependent on outside skill,” Rubin told the Foundation for Defense of Democracies before heading to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers later in the day.
“Today Iran can avoid all those export controls quite easily,” he continued, adding that currently, despite the economic sanctions, the country’s access to money is sufficient to “buy all they want.”
Rubin wouldn’t offer a timetable for how long it would take Iran to not only develop a nuclear weapon, but produce it in a form suitable for putting on a warhead, and then constructing the warhead itself. But he did say the time is “very short.”
Producing an intercontinental ballistic missile might take longer, but Rubin assessed that the Islamic Republics’s interest would be satisfied simply by posing a credible threat to the US homeland rather than in actually deploying an ICBM.
“Iran would love to be in a deterrent situation with the United States. That makes it a superpower,” said Rubin, who now heads a defense consulting firm.
He urged US political leaders to work to secure missile stocks in Middle East countries roiled by the Arab Spring.
He described missiles held in countries such as Syria as “really capable” and ones that could pose a grave challenge to the West.
“If you don’t take care of them, those missiles will end up in places that are bad for Israel and bad for the US,” Rubin said.
More than regime change, “What frightens me really is regime collapse.”
He explained that in that situation the fate of the missiles would be much more tenuous.
Rubin added that he wasn’t arguing to keep Bashar Assad in power for the sake of stability.
“Assad should go,” he stressed. “But for God’s sake, if he goes, let’s keep those stockpiles under control.”