Sunday, September 23, 2007

Antiship Missiles Are Not Covered Under Arms Transfer Agreements

Unfortunately the transfer of antiship missiles are not covered under international arms limitations agreements, which has allowed China, North Korea and Russia to provide nations like Iran with some dangerous antiship weapons such as the Chinese and North Korean versions of C-802 and the Russian Sunburn antiship missiles. These weapons have given Iran's small navy a potent weapon to stop a far larger navy or the power to bring oil shipping out of the Gulf to a complete stop in the event of war.

Iran proved the power of the C-802 when the Israeli Saar 5-class missile ship, Spear, was badly damaged during the battle with Hezbollah in Lebanon last year, despite some very complex anticruise missile technology. During the Clinton Administration in 1996, the U.S. China to stop any further exports of the C-802 antiship cruise missiles to Iran, however North Korea has continued to aid Iran in developing better guidance systems. Iran has also become very good at reverse engineering weapons by purchasing some examples, taking them apart and building their own copies or making improvements. With GPS technology, Iran could make these antiship cruise missiles very lethal.

But even more serious is the prospect that Iran has some Russian Sunburn SS-22-N antiship cruise missiles in their small navy. These are frightening enough for oil tankers or smaller navy ships, but if Iran would develop nuclear warheads for these cruise missiles, then American aircraft carriers could be in grave danger in the event of any armed conflict with Iran.

War with Iran needs to be avoided at all costs. However, Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. The world community must continue to pressure Iran to be transparent about the depth of it's nuclear program. However dangerous transfers of arms such as antiship cruise missiles only weaken the ability of the responsible world community to pressure Iran not to develop nuclear arms. Iran doesn't need the ability to sink oil tankers and bring the world demand for oil to it's knees or the ability to be able to damage the American Navy. Iran only is encouraged to act more recklessly with the continued transfer of dangerous antiship cruise missiles to this renegade state.

Arms sales to irresponsible states often ends up with bad consequences. Look at the Reagan Administration's efforts to arm Saddam Hussein's Iraq or Osama Bin Laden's Mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the 1980's as excellent examples. Arms transfers by Russia, China or North Korea to Iran Can only lead to more deadly consequences as well. The export or arms around the world only leads to many deaths. There are better things to export such as food or medicine.