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MK Steinitz: 'Latest Arrow Success Proves Israel Has Very Good Defense Against Iranian Missile Attack'

'No Other Country In The World Has Succeeded In Doing What Arrow Did In Destroying Simulated Iranian Shihab Rocket That Could Be Capable Of Delivering Nuclear Warhead'

PM Olmert: 'Arrow Bull's - Eye Was Very Impressive Achievement - Israel Also Working On A Short & Intermediate Missile Defense Within Three or Four Years'

Illustration of the arrow system

Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz, the former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, says the latest Arrow success proves Israel has a very good defense against Iranian missiles. No other country in the world has succeeded in doing what the Arrow did in the latest test. Steinitz, who attended the test, told IsraCast that the Arrow proved it can destroy ballistic missiles fired from about any range. In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also called the Arrow test a most impressive achievement.

PM Olmert

'A most impressive achievement' - that's how Prime minister Ehud Olmert described the latest Arrow bull's - eye. Olmert added that production time- tables are now on target for coping with the missile threats facing Israel in the coming years.

The Israeli leader obviously had Iran in mind. He went on to say the next generation of Arrow will provide an even better and more efficient answer to Iran's threat to wipe Israel off the map.

Israeli officials say the latest Arrow success sends a message to Tehran in more ways than one. First, it is obviously a wake- up call that Israel has a state- of- the- art defensive capability against a nuclear missile attack. The Iranian Shihab missiles could be destroyed before reaching Israel, triggering a devastating Israeli counter- attack. Several Arrow batteries are now operational protecting the Jewish state from a ballistic missile attack. Secondly, this proven capability will also reduce Israeli motivation to carry out a pre- emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Thirdly, there are fresh reports that the U.S. may launch its own pre- emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities before the Bush administration leaves office in less than two years. Iranian leaders have warned they would retaliate against Israeli target if attacked by the U.S. They will now have to rethink that possibility if Israel possesses an effective ballistic missile defense.

As for Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons, Olmert said President Ahmadinejad's declarations of being close to passing the technological threshold are 'grossly exaggerated'. The Prime Minister contended the Iranians are trying to create the impression they are about to cross the point of no return in order to persuade the world that it's game over so forget about the sanctions. But Olmert argued that the international sanctions are hurting Iran and there is the potential to bring about a change in Tehran.

Paradoxically, although the Arrow provides Israel with a proven defense capability to knock out incoming nuclear missiles - there is still no answer to the primitive Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip and the Katyushas launched from southern Lebanon. Olmert said the state is working hard on this but it will take three to four years to find a similar responsefor short and intermediate range rockets that threaten the Jewish state.

David Essing

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