US arms exporters explode over missile threat

The world went more ballistic than usual over the weekend, with reports that North Korea had deployed new missiles able to hit most of Japan as well as South Korea, and that Iran had tested a missile able to hit Israel. But the people who have really been going ballistic are American defence companies, accelerating their efforts to sell anti-missile systems.

As the long-range missile threat grows, a number of countries are showing interest in Russian anti-missile defence systems, but the US would prefer them to buy its Patriot anti-missiles instead. The US, which wants to keep the Patriot production line running, has put heavy-handed pressure on South Korea and the United Arab Emirates not to buy Russian.

The Russians, the world's third biggest arms sellers, are desperate to sell high-tech weapons for hard currency to ease their chronic debt and oil-rich Middle Eastern states and tiger economies like South Korea are good customers. The US, the world's biggest arms seller (Britain is number two) does not like the idea for economic and strategic reasons.

Japan's Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda yesterday told a Parliamentary Committee there were unconfirmed reports that North Korea had deployed some of its Nodong-1 ballistic missiles on mobile launchers. On Friday Japanese television reported US spy satellites had spotted three Nodong- 1s in positions on North Korea's eastern coast. With a range of 1,000km (625 miles), the missiles can hit targets across most of Japan and all South Korea.

Two weeks ago Israel claimed that Iran tested an engine for a long-range missile with an estimated range of 1,500km (950 miles). The Russians deny they were involved, although Israeli officials say they believe Russian SS-4 missile parts have been transferred to Iran.

North Korea has denied it is developing a nuclear warhead for Nodong, but missiles of this type are not very accurate and, apart from harassment, only make sense with weapons of mass destruction - nuclear, biological or chemical - as warheads. For this reason, states which are potential targets take these missile developments very seriously.

The only nations currently able to build anti-ballistic missile systems are the US and Russia. The US has helped Israel develop a new anti-missile, called Arrow, but its deployment is still some years off. There is no large-scale US involvement in Arrow, but in the interim the US, and the US missile firm Raytheon, want to sell as many Patriots as possible.

South Korea has indicated that it was interested in buying the Russian S300V (Nato codename SA-12 Gladiator) system, but has come under heavy pressure from the US which has warned that US aircraft would be at risk from a Russian-built system which was incompatible with US identification systems. UAE, too, has come under criticism for expressing interest in the SA-12.

Missile experts yesterday said the US objection that the missiles might be a danger to their own planes was nonsense. "They've operated in Egyptian airspace for years", said Christopher Foss, editor of Jane's Land-Based Air Defence. Egypt is one of many Middle Eastern states which have operated Soviet or Russian systems for decades.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album