From the Global Security Newswire:
Iranian state television on Monday aired videos of subterranean launch facilities said to be holding medium- and long-range missiles for retaliating against a potential military strike, the Associated Press reported.
(Jun. 28) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launches a Shahab 2 ballistic missile during a 2006 exercise. Iran on Monday released footage of underground launch sites purportedly hosting medium- and long-range missiles (Getty Images).
The facilities were generally interpreted as a means of conducting an offensive in response to a possible attack by the United States or Israel on Iranian atomic facilities, according to AP. Washington and allied governments suspect Iran’s nuclear program is geared toward weapons development; Tehran has insisted its atomic intentions are strictly nonmilitary in nature (see GSN, June 27).
The launch sites “function as a swift-reaction unit,” said Col. Asghar Qelichkhani, a spokesman for a 10-day Iranian military drill that began on Monday (Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press I/Yahoo!News, June 27). Iran on Tuesday launched 14 missiles as part of the exercise, including including one long-range and four medium-range Shahab ballistic missiles, Iran’s Press TV reported (Press TV, June 28).
“Missiles, which are permanently in the vertical position, are ready to hit the predetermined targets,” state media quoted Qelichkhani as saying of the launch facilities. The released silo footage showed subterranean launchpads for the Shahab 3 missile, which could hit European, Israeli and U.S. military targets within 1,240 miles, according to AP.
Qelichkhani said the facilities rely on indigenously developed systems, denying Israel’s assertions that they had been constructed with North Korean support.
Iran has built “numerous” buried launch sites invisible to orbiting surveillance platforms, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard official said (Dareini, Associated Press I). Preliminary indications suggest Iran has placed underground missile facilities in its northwestern territory, close to the cities of Tabriz and Khorramabad, the New York Times quoted past Western news reports as saying (William Broad, New York Times, June 27).
The launch facilities are linked to a central command unit, the state television report said in remarks carried by AP. The released material included photographs of missiles launching from a single silo following the opening of the site’s metallic, surface-level entryway.
“Only few countries in the world possess the technology to construct underground missile silos. The technology required for that is no less complicated than building the missile itself,” the Iranian report quoted a second Revolutionary Guard official as saying.
You can read the full report here.