TEL AVIV (Oct. 3)
Iran is about to join Syria in a joint venture to manufacture surface-to-surface Scud missiles in Syria, according to Ha’aretz’s military correspondent, Ze’ev Schiff, who attributed his information to reliable American sources.
If correct, it would be the first time Iran worked with an Arab country to produce a weapons system, Schiff reported Tuesday.
Syria has been making significant efforts to increase its surface-to-surface missile strength as a result of lessons taught by the Persian Gulf War, Schiff wrote.
After the war, Damascus signed an agreement with North Korea to acquire the more accurate Scud-C missiles, which exceed the range of standard Scuds by nearly 125 miles. The first shipment of new Scuds reached Syria from North Korea early last summer, and the second is due in the next few days, Schiff reported.
He said the deal differs from Syria’s past missile contracts with the Soviet Union, because North Korea is committed to setting up a missile production plant in Syria.
Iran, in the midst of a long-term project to improve its military strength, is prepared to invest in the Syrian plant to assure itself of a steady supply of surface-to-surface missiles, Schiff said. He said that in the past, Syria tried to acquire from China M-9 missiles with a range of 300 to 370 miles.
The United States tried to prevent the deal, and the Chinese claimed the M-9s were still in the developmental stage. But knowledgeable circles believe the negotiations between China and Syria are in the final stages, Schiff wrote.