Morning Report: 2008-11-13

A nervous Iranian regime tests a solid-fuel missile, while a naval blogger quashes speculation on a famous ship.

Straight talk on Iran ship. Information Dissemination clears up the scuttlebutt around that Iranian merchant ship, the MV Iran Deyanat:

Hijacked earlier this year off the coast of Somalia, the ship became the subject of wild speculation and conspiracy theory when a Somalian government minister claimed to Reuters that 16 pirates died attempting to open the cargo hold. A few more strange stories began popping up, including blisters, boils, and hair falling out of those exposed to the cargo of the ship.

At that point, the conspiracy theories became legand. Whether it was a dirty bomb to be used against Israel, nuclear cargo to be offloaded in Africa for Al Qaeda, or a simple case of illegal dumping of toxic materials by China off the coast of Somalia, something about the MV Iran Deyanat became perfect fodder. When the company that owned the Iran Deyanat got listed under sanctions due to ownership by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard 2 days before the rumors broke into the mainstream news, a legand was born.

And now?

Well, the MV Iran Deyanat popped up in the news again today, this time making port in Rotterdam. Not only was the ship deemed unsuspecting of any problems, but it underwent a normal inspection without issue and according to this news report, is tied up to bouy 29 without the necessity of extra security as the ship waits to unload cargo.

Galrahn hopes this will put the rumors to rest.

Iran tests missile, West's resolve. AP:

Barack Obama's first international "test" moved a bit closer to reality today, with Iran's test of a new, solid-fuel missile that can strike targets in Israel--and southeastern Europe--more accurately (and with less warning) than other missiles in Tehran's inventory.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar identified the missile as the Sajjil, which was launched from a test complex western of Tehran. The two-stage system has a reported range of 1,200 miles, allowing it to reach targets as far away as Greece and Israel. Iranian officials claim that the Sajjil is Iran's first medium-range missile to use solid fuel technology, similar to that found in more advanced systems produced by Russia, China and the West.

While the test launch was a major step for Iran's missile program, it also represented another failure. U.S. defense officials report that th Sajjil suffered an engine failure in the early stages of its flight and traveled only 180 miles, less than 20% of its advertised range. Similar failures have also occurred in past launches of extended range versions of the Shahab-3, Tehran's first medium-range ballistic missile.

In From the Cold fills in the details:

Unlike the Sajjil, the Shahab-3 uses liquid fuel to power its engines. While liquid-fuel engines represent proven technology, they also pose operational problems. The missile must be fueled before launch, raising the potential for accidents--or detection by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. It can take up to an hour to fuel an older Iranian SCUD or Shahab-3 and in some cases, the missile must be elevated to firing position before the propellant and oxidizer can be loaded.

By comparison, solid fuel is stable and can be stored in the missile for extended periods of time. That decreases the "signature" associated with operations--you don't need oxidizer and propellant trucks following your launcher vehicle around the countryside. With a smaller signature, it becomes more difficult to spot (and interdict) missile operations.

That problem is further compounded by the rapid response time of solid fuel missile systems. With liquid fuel missiles, there is often a lag between the receipt of launch orders and the actual event, increasing the vulnerability of the weapon--and its crew--to enemy interdiction efforts. The problem is particularly acute in Iran's ballistic missile force; many of its Shahab-3 launchers cannot raise a fully-fueled missile, meaning that the airframe must be elevated prior to fueling operations.

Iran regime nervous. The Spirit of Man reports on unusual goings-on in Iran:

There are some weird things going on in Iran these days. And all these weird stuff are like the largest anti-riot drills in Tehran, testing new missiles and the Persian language Radio Farda reports that the Iranian regime has extended a national pardon for all military service deserters. This pardon acts like a recruiting drive for the regime armed forces since the military service in Iran is compulsory and desertion is a huge issue among the youth. Therefore all these stories make me believe that the regime is probably more nervous than ever. Are they expecting something?


I reported yesterday about the Iranian regime's recent anti street riot drills that's taking place in Tehran. The 2nd day of these exercises are going on as I write. Though these drills are very interesting because it's important to ask why the Islamic regime is doing this 29 yrs after it is established. What are they afraid of after all these years?

Go to the link for photos.

Briefly noted. Belmont Club on inherently safe systems.

Commentary. Just in case you missed it, it's official: that thing where Sarah Palin supposedly thought Africa was a country was a hoax. Other than that, no comments for this morning.