Friday, February 10, 2006

Middle East:

Germans, Russian Aid Iran Arms Program
08 February 2006

REUTERS (BERLIN) - Two German businessmen, a former Russian military officer, and North Korea are among those helping Iran develop missiles that the West fears could one day carry nuclear warheads, diplomats and intelligence officials say.

Last month, two German men were formally charged with espionage by federal prosecutors and accused of "having sold a vibration testing facility in 2001 and 2002 on behalf of a foreign military intelligence procurement entity," according to a statement on the prosecutor's office website. A German official familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the case, said the country involved was Iran. The prosecutor's office did not reveal the names of the men or the German company they worked for.

Recently, US intelligence officials recovered information from a stolen laptop computer that suggests Iranian missile experts are trying to develop a missile re-entry vehicle capable of carrying a relatively small nuclear warhead, EU and US officials said.

A European and non-European intelligence official told Reuters that Russian middlemen were helping Iran get missile technology from North Korea that could bring central Europe within range of Iranian missiles. An EU diplomat, citing his country's intelligence, said Iran purchased 18 disassembled BM-25 mobile missiles with a range of around 2,500 km from North Korea.

One intelligence official said a former Russian military officer with the first name of Viktor helped Iran get Soviet-made SSN6 missile technology from Russia and North Korea, which Iran could use to improve the accuracy of its newly-bought BM-25s and increase their range to as much as 3,500 km. Iranian Shahab-3 missiles have a range of some 2,000 km. With a range of 3,500 km, the missiles could reach central Europe.

Source Reliability: 8.5

**Pictured above: Russian SS-N-6 SERB Medium-Range Ballistic Missile**

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