WikiLeaks: Iran 'obtains North Korea missiles which can strike Europe'
Iran has obtained ballistic missiles from North Korea that could be used to strike Western Europe, the leaked files suggest.
In leaked documents from German newspaper Der Spiegel President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is referred to as 'Hitler'
By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent 7:30AM GMT 29 Nov 2010
Secret American intelligence assessments conclude that Iran has obtained a stock of 19 advanced missiles, based on a Russian design.
The missiles could give Iran the capacity to strike at capitals in Western Europe as close as Berlin, or Moscow.
They could also use the missile technology to develop even more powerful inter-continental ballistic missiles, the cable warns.
While Iran is believed to be developing nuclear weapons, intelligence experts do not believe the country has yet developed a warhead that could be fitted to a missile.
However there has been speculation that North Korea may have sold Iran components for missiles based on a Russian design called the R-27, once used by Soviet submarines to carry nuclear warheads.
In fact, a cable dated February 24 this year, makes clear that US intelligence believe the North Korea have shipped complete versions of their more powerful BM-25, based on the Russian design.
The cable, reported by the New York Times, gives details of a meeting between senior Russian officials and an American delegation led by Vann Van Diepen, an official with the State Department’s nonproliferation division, in which the Americans outline their concerns.
The range of the Russian R-27, when launched from a submarine, was said to be up to 1,500 miles but experts say the BM-25 is longer and heavier, and carries more fuel, giving it a range of up to 2,000 miles.
The cables reveal a rising sense of concern about Iran’s plans across the Middle East.
In late May 2009, Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, told a Congressional delegation that the world had 6 to 18 months “in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons” and after that “any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”
Such warnings were not unusual from Israel, however, six months later the King of Bahrain told the Americans that the Iranian nuclear program “must be stopped” and “the danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”
His concerns were shared by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia who repeatedly implored Washington to “cut off the head of the snake” while there was still time.
Crown Prince bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi reportedly said: “Any culture that is patient and focused enough to spend years working on a single carpet is capable of waiting years and even decades to achieve even greater goals.”
His greatest worry, he said, “is not how much we know about Iran, but how much we don’t.”
In one cable, a senior Omani military officer was said to be unable to decide which was worse, “a strike against Iran’s nuclear capability and the resulting turmoil it would cause in the Gulf, or inaction and having to live with a nuclear-capable Iran.”
The Americans themselves seem far from settled on an attack on Iran.
A cable from February 12 this year described a meeting in Paris between Hervé Morin, then the French defense minister, and Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defence in which Mr Morin asked whether
Israel could strike Iran without American support.
Mr Gates told him “that he didn’t know if they would be successful, but that Israel could carry out the operation.”
He added that any strike “would only delay Iranian plans by one to three years, while unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the attacker.”