Monday, January 06, 2014

MIDDLE EAST - Iran and Hezbollah Deal Threatens Region

"Hezbollah upgrades missile threat to Israel" PBS Newshour 1/5/2014


HARI SREENIVASAN (Newshour):  With all the talk the past many months about a possible military conflict between Israel and Iran, a new source of conflict might be emerging.  The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the Islamic militant group, Hezbollah, is getting more advanced weaponry that could be far more precise in their attacks.  Charles Levinson was one of the authors of the piece and joins us now.  So, there has been this arms race under the guise of the Syrian war that has been happening in the neighborhood.  Who is getting what kind of weapons?

CHARLES LEVINSON, Wall Street Journal:  Right.  So, when Assad starts losing control in Syria in 2012, Iran and Syria want Hezbollah to lend its expertise to the fight.  Hezbollah was reluctant because of its own domestic political considerations inside Lebanon.  To sweeten the deal, Iran basically offered Hezbollah to upgrade its weapons arsenal from having tens of thousands – about a hundred thousand unguided, dumb bombs and rockets and missiles to having smart, guided missiles that can hit precise targets inside Israel.  So, the weapons transfers that we are looking at so far are the SA-17.  It is an anti-aircraft, sort of highly mobile, advanced anti-aircraft missile that would really threaten Israel’s dominance in the skies above Lebanon, especially its helicopters.  You are talking about the Fato-110, which is very precise within a… I cannot remember the exact… but within a few dozen/few hundred meters let’s say.  A surface-to-surface missile that can reach basically all of Israel, and the same thing called the surface-to-ship/anti-ship missile, which can basically take out any Israeli (or U.S.) ship patrolling the Mediterranean off the coast of Lebanon.

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