Western intelligence agencies are concerned that North Korea may have helped Iran to test-launch a sea-going Scud missile.
The short-range missile is believed to have been successfully fired from the deck of an Iranian cargo ship.
Although Scuds carry conventional explosives, the missile was originally developed for the purpose of carrying a nuclear warhead. The ability to use a mobile, sea-going platform would mean that Tehran need not seek long-range missiles to attack distant targets. The Iranians--or their terrorist proxies--could mount short-range missiles on civilian ships, and launch them from sea, near the coastlines of the United States or Israel.
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has referred to an attack by a ship-launched ballistic missile as one of the most serious security threats facing the US. Thousands of cargo ships move through US waters every day. If a Scud-B missile armed with a nuclear warhead were to hit a major port city, such as Los Angeles, or Long Beach, California, tens of thousands of people would be killed and injured.
Iran is also said to be working out the technical issues for firing a longer-range Shahab 3 or 6 missile from a cargo ship.
Western analysts are also worried that Iran or North Korea could eventually have the capability to detonate a nuclear weapon at high altitude to create an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, along with radiation and blast effects. Experts say an EMP weapon detonated high in the earth's atmosphere over America's Midwest region could cause catastrophic damage to the country's infrastructure, destroying 70 percent of the electrical grid and computer systems for finance, transportation, and emergency services.
technorati tags: North Korea
technorati tags: Iran