A sole US test against long-range ballistic missiles failed on Wednesday, the second failure in a row involving the system managed by Boeing Co, the Defense Department said.
“The Missile Defense Agency was unable to achieve a planned intercept of a ballistic missile target during a test over the Pacific Ocean today,” Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
No preliminary explanation of the failure was provided.
The miss brought the so-called ground-based midcourse defense’s batting record to eight intercepts out of 15 tries, as reckoned by the Missile Defense Agency.
“This is a tremendous setback for the testing of this complicated system,” Riki Ellison, head of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a booster group, said in a statement. He said it raised troubling questions about the reliability of the 30 or so interceptor missiles deployed in silos in Alaska and California.
The test was a repeat of a Jan. 31 exercise in which an advanced sea-based radar had not performed as expected.
In the test on Wednesday, an intermediate-range ballistic missile target flew successfully from a test site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, as did a long-range interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the agency said.
The sea-based X-Band radar and all sensors performed as planned, and the interceptor successfully deployed a “kill vehicle” designed to collide with the target, the statement said.
It said officials will conduct an extensive investigation to pin down the cause of the failure to intercept. The next flight test will be determined after the failure’s cause is identified, it added.
A Boeing spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a reqeust for comment.
The nuclear meeting Iran has been stalling for over a year was finally held in Geneva early this week. The parties, put in diplomatic language, have “agreed to not agree” on any substantial issue.
The meeting was so unimpressive the participants settled for being satisfied that a meeting had been held for the first time since October 2009. In this regard, the only point of agreement was that the second meeting would be held in January in Istanbul, provided the conditions announced by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad are fulfilled.
Iran is a country that decides on its own on where and what to discuss with whom. It is the master of leading novice chess players by their noses and buying time. The neighbor’s nuclear program began in 1995. The first serious negotiation with the so-called “international community” took place 10 years later, in 2005. A second one was held with the P5+1 group consisting of five permanent members at the United Nations Security Council and Germany, only after an interval of four years in October 2009.
At that meeting, Iran seemingly agreed to exchange the enriched uranium stocks it holds, therefore its capability to build an atomic bomb would have been inhibited. But as soon as the meeting was over it denied the agreement. This time in Geneva it notified the P5+1 lined before it at the beginning of the meeting and told them that it would discuss the nuclear fuel exchange only with a group consisting of France, Russia, United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and only along the Tehran Declaration brokered with the mediation of Brazil and Turkey early on this year.
Before Geneva, we had witnessed mutual moves. After the murder of two nuclear physicists in 2007 and early this year, two scientists working at the nuclear program were attacked by unidentified perpetrators on Monday, Nov. 29. According to Israeli sources, Majid Shahriari, who died in the attack, was leading the team which tried to eradicate the Stuxnet cybervirus which had infiltrated Iran’s nuclear and military control systems. According to the same sources, Stuxnet tangled up the nuclear fuel production in Natanz and a military exercise between Nov. 16 and 22. Nuclear physicist Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, who was wounded in the attack, was apparently dean at the Revolutionary Guards’ University.
Iran has made a countermove against this attack. Last Sunday, before the Iran delegation got on the plane, Iran declared to the world that it possessed sufficient amounts of the nuclear substance called ‘yellow cake.’ In Geneva it maintained its strict and uncompromising rhetoric on what it prefers to be discussed.
Although a diplomat from the P5+1 group insists that nuclear issues will be discussed at the Istanbul meeting, Iran declared after the meeting through its chief negotiator Saeed Jalili that it will never discuss nuclear issues and will only negotiate the weapon stocks of the West and Israel. In Tehran, on the other hand, Ahmadinejad laid down the abolition of economic sanctions on Iran as a condition for the upcoming Istanbul meeting. The U.N., which is the host of the meeting, was the target of Iran’s arrows because three years ago it blacklisted the physicist who survived the then recent attack for carrying out prohibited nuclear works. Another move on the tense chess board came from an Iranian diplomat who had taken asylum in Norway. He revealed that North Korean scientists were working with Iran.
Turkey in between
This board of masters does not leave enough space for Turkey’s mediation efforts. While the trust of P5+1 countries was harmed with the ‘no’ vote for the sanctions against Iran at the U.N. Security Council, the distrust of Turkey’s ‘friend and brother neighbor’ is no different.
Look at the content and style of this piece of news dated Dec. 6, by Iran’s official news agency Fars: “The Turkish prime minister, who suddenly changed his attitude on the NATO missile shield a short while ago, has begun to follow bilateral policies about Zionist Israel! Turkey’s taking up a bilateral policy with the beginning of ‘fire diplomacy’ for Israel-Turkey relations and its trying to come close with pirate Israel, which repeatedly announced that it would not apologize, although it had killed nine Turks, has shocked the ones who thought Turkey was against this killer regime.” No comment!
Turkish president Abdullah Gul said that the U.S.-built nuclear weapons hosted in Turkey for the NATO are under Turkish Armed Forces control.
President Gul visited a Turkish military base in Turkey’s sauthern province of Adana, daily newspaper Aksam reported on Saturday. One of the reporters asked the President wheter Turkey has control over the nuclear weapons that are claimed to be stored in Incirlik Air Base in Adana. In response, President Abdullah Gul did not deny these claims. ”
“Every military installation within the borders of Turkey is under the control of Turkish authorities. There cannot be a military entity in Turkey that is not under the control of Turks.” Abdullah Gul said.
These warheads are designed to be dropped over their targets using conventional fighter and bomber aircraft such as Turkish Air Force F-16s and F-4s. B-61 warhead is not suitable for installation and delivery using ballistic missiles.