Experts: Iranian missile not a new threat
Israeli experts say Iran's technology improving, but missile will take 4-5 years to become operational
Israeli experts said Wednesday that while Iran's most recent missile launch proved the Islamic Republic had vastly improved its weapons technology, the missile did not pose an immediate threat to Israel.
Iran test-fired the new Sajjil-2 missile earlier Wednesday, claiming it had a range capable of reaching Israel and US bases in the Middle East.
"Regarding the threat to Israel's citizens there is nothing new here. Their ability to bomb Israel exists," General (Res) Professor Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, former head of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry, told Ynet.
"This experiment should be regarded carefully. There have been times at which the Iranians announced such launches, which afterwards were deemed failures. There were photos then too, which were afterwards proved false."
However Ben Yisrael believes Iran has improved its technology, and that this is an issue that should concern Israel and the world.
"They've had us covered for five years, and now Western Europe is in their range. This is worrying and constitutes another trigger to continue attempts to decrease the threat," he said.
Yiftah Shapir, who heads the Institute for National Securities Studies' Middle East Military Balance project, also claims the launch does not necessarily heighten the threat.
"This is a process the Iranians have been discussing for at least six years. At a rough estimate, the missile will become operational in four or five years," he said.
"They still need to plan the manufacturing process, the operational aspects of the accompanying weaponry, and the control systems. All of this takes time."
Shapir added, "We should not be expecting a missile to fall on Tel Aviv one bright afternoon without prior warning. It's almost certain these missiles were meant to deter first of all, because the Iranians have already procured quite a number of enemies for themselves."
Regarding Israel's defenses against such a missile, Uzi Rubin, former head of the Defense Ministry's Arrow project, believes the state is prepared.
"This is a challenge, but luckily we have prepared for it. This is not a surprise and we planned the Arrow missile in order to deal with missiles of this kind," Rubin said.
He also claims Iran will not fire the new missile any time soon. "Their policy now is appeasement of Europe, to show that we and the Americans are just paranoid. They want to earn some quiet to build their plans," he said.