Thursday, August 18, 2005

Russia, Pakistan, India And Iran All Conduct Recent Missile Tests

A number of nations have each tested new missiles within the last few days. In each case, these missiles could be armed with nuclear warheads.

Just yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin boarded a sleek Russian TU-160 bomber that launched a new Sineva hypersonic cruise missile that destroyed a target home a distance away. While the Russian government publicly claimed that this highly accurate missile can be used to fight "terrorists", this new extremely fast missile flies faster than sound and is actually designed to undermine American antimissile air defenses, which the Russian's believe to violate previous signed arms limitations treaties. As of yet, no known U.S. military defenses could defend against a missile of this speed or type if equipped with a nuclear rather than conventional warhead. Certainly if information of a Chechen leadership meeting at a site could be confirmed, the conventional version of this weapon may have some military use, but the real intent is a continuation of the post-Cold War arms race by Russia and the U.S., and is unfortunate for this reason.

Pakistan tested it's first cruise missile on August 11, as a birthday present to Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf who turned 62. The Babur cruise missile can be fitted with either conventional or nuclear warheads. India and Pakistan signed an agreement recently to inform each other of missile tests, but Pakistan did not inform India of the test of the new Babur cruise missile, claiming that the treaty did not cover guided missiles.

On July 17, India tested a new Akash surface-to-air, antiballistic missile, with a range of 17 miles. While not as advanced as many of the Pakistani designs, it still represents a widening fleet of various levels of missile weaponry by both India and Pakistan and an arms buildup in that region of Asia.

Last month, Iran tested a new solid rocket motor that extended the range of it's Shahab-3 missiles based on the North Korean Nodong design from 1,300 kilometers to 2,000 kilometers. These can be used to hit locations in Southern Europe or even Israel or Turkey with nuclear warheads.

These four nations represent just one month of a world arms race that continues month by month, year by year. The huge world arms race by a number of states usually means that many of these weapons are soon sold on the world arms market to other nations, and the world becomes more armed each month. Rather than create a Cold War standoff like the one between the former Soviet Union and the U.S., one nation will someday feel it has the advantage over a neighbor it is in conflict with and pull the nuclear triggger someday. This hardly makes the world safer or more secure.


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