TEL AVIV (Aug. 5)
Iraq has devel-oped a medium-range missile, possibly with Egypt’s cooperation, that could carry a nuclear warhead and reach major population centers of Israel, the Israeli press reported Wednesday.
Israeli officials expressed concern at the reports that the Iraqi missile may be capable of carrying a nuclear weapon and causing considerable damage even if it misses its target.
Haaretz Wednesday quoted an Iraqi news agency report that Iraq and Egypt, the two most technologically advanced Arab states, are collaborating in building a medium-range ground-to-ground missile capable of flying 400 miles.
Haaretz military correspondent Zeev Schiff reported that military sources are concerned by Baghdad’s announcement Tuesday that the first test rocket flew 380 miles. Israel has known for some time that Iraq was developing such a missile. The Iraqis have said the missile is capable of hitting Teheran, but it can also reach any target in Israel, Schiff reported.
CHEMICAL WARHEAD MISSILE POSSIBLE
Egypt and Iraq reportedly began cooperating on the project during the Iran-Iraq war. The cooperation likely assures that Iraq will succeed in producing a missile capable of carrying a chemical warhead sooner than anticipated. Some military sources have speculated that Iraq has already developed a missile with the range and accuracy claimed in this week’s reports.
Iraq’s announcement of the missile test could be aimed to raise the war-torn country’s morale. But Iraq may also want to answer to Israel’s development of the medium-range missile, the Jericho 2.
Syria and Egypt have already acquired growing numbers of ground-to-ground missiles capable of striking Israeli population centers. For this reason, the IDF must devise some form of protection from the threat. One such solution is the Barak anti-missile missile, Schiff suggested.