Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel Warned To Prepare For Ballistic Missile Threats

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Israel has been urged to prepare for ballistic missile threats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

A senior defense executive warned that Israel’s military and Defense Ministry might not have been allowed to prepare its missile defense umbrella to combat possible future threats from Middle East states, which are not directly threatening Israel at this time, due to political constraints.

The executive, who works closely with the Defense Ministry, said the threat could come from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which have been developing or procuring medium- and intermediate-range missiles.

“We are not paying attention to what is going on in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) vice president Yair Ramati said.

Mr. Ramati, who for years headed IAI’s Arrow missile defense program, cited Turkey’s growing missile and rocket capabilities.

He said Ankara has been acquiring U.S. and Chinese systems as well as developing Turkish weapons.

This included the Chinese-origin 302 mm rocket, with a range of 150 kilometers.

The Israel Defense Ministry has never cited Egypt or Turkey as threats. Egypt has maintained a peace treaty with Israel since 1979, and Turkey was regarded as a strategic ally of the Jewish state from 1996 until 2008. Over the last year, Turkey increased ties with neighboring Iran and Syria.

In a presentation to the International Aerospace Conference and Exhibition-Israel on Nov. 17, Mr. Ramati said Egypt and other Arab states could constitute missile threats by 2020. He said Saudi Arabia, concerned over Iran’s military modernization effort, was expected to replace its Chinese-origin intermediate-range CSSS2 for an advanced modern ballistic missile.

Yet, leading strategists in Israel forget that Saudi Arabia remains in a state of war with Israel. Saudi Arabia is the only neighboring country contiguous to Israel to have never signed a peace treaty or even an armistice with Israel since 1948.

Mr. Ramati stated clearly that Israeli missile defense exercises do not take the Egyptian, Saudi and Turkish capabilities into account.

He suggested that the Defense Ministry and military were under political constraints from the government.

“Are these scenarios politically correct?” Mr. Ramati asked.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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