U.S. Fears Iran Has Long-Range Missile, But Russia Calls It A 'Myth'

by
redwarrior
(CNN)

The United States believes that North Korea is supplying Iran with long-range missiles, suggesting Iran has strike capabilities are stronger than discussed in public, according to one of the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables released Sunday.

The issue was raised by American diplomats in a high level-meeting with their Russian counterparts in late 2009, but the Russians expressed doubt on the U.S. concern, according to the cable. The revelation is in one of the documents published by WikiLeaks, the online whistleblower website that began releasing a cache of more than 250,000 cables Sunday.

The document, dated February 24 and labeled "secret," details a meeting between the United States and Russia in which U.S. representatives expressed belief that North Korea supplied Iran with missiles.

The cable cites the U.S. belief that 19 BM-25 missiles were shipped to Iran in 2005. According to Jane's, a weapons research company, the missiles are reported to have a range somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 km (1,560 to 2,500 miles).

The Russians expressed doubts about the claim, citing lack of evidence, the cable states. But the Americans countered that some countries have offered direct evidence, and said they would try to bring further evidence to future meetings.

The United States believes that Iran wanted the missiles for the propulsion technology. But in an exchange described in the cable, U.S. and Russian officials debated whether North Korea even had the BM-25 missile at all, and the Russians asked whether the United States had any images of the missile.

"The U.S. did not, but noted that North Korea had paraded the missile through the streets of Pyongyang. Russia disagreed," the cable noted. The Russians countered that a review of the video of that parade showed a different video and "the missile appears to be a myth."