With a simple low powered altimeter radio system it could avoid the ground quite easily.With converted civilian planes, Iran could possibly launch these missiles from the middle of the Atlantic to hit the United States. This might require some fancy engineering on the part of Iran. The missiles could be mounted on launchers slung under the wings of a heavy cargo plane such as an IL-76, but Iran only has one such airplane in military service. Low-wing commercial aircraft would not provide sufficient ground clearance for such an installation. In principle commercial passenger aircraft could be modified with a bomb-bay, but the structural modifications required would be rather heroic.A more attractive alternative might consist of arming small ships with single cruise missiles. The modifications required to launch such a small missile would easily escape detection.Iran's merchant marine fleet is controlled by the state shipping company Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL). It serves now two container services from the port of Bender-e Abbas. One of them goes on a 30-day loop to East Asia, the other reaches Europe via the Suez in 22 days.In 2003 it was estimated that Iran's merchant marine consisted of 130 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,715,242 GRT / 8,240,069 DWT. This was composed of 40 bulk, 36 cargo, 3 chemical tankers, 7 container, 1 liquefied gas tanker, 5 multifunction large-load carrier, 33 petroleum tankers, 8 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 1 short-sea passenger, and 10 other ships registered in other countries. Iran's merchant marine fleet is doing relatively well, but the average age of 40% of its vessels is over 20 years, which makes it rather unfit for international competition. In October 2001 an agreement for manufacturing six ships was signed with Germany. The ships will be constructed with a total investment of $188 million in Bandar Abbas under German supervision.Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex [ISOICO] is a qualified Iranian company, active as shipbuilder and shiprepairer of different types of vessels and contractor of offshore structures. It operates from a production premises on the Persian Gulf (37 km west Bandar Abbas City), shipping to any location offshore or onshore.The activity of the Company started in the early 1990s as a workshop and a yard. The experience gained in this operation enabled the company to enlarge its sphere of activity to plants and mechanical plant components, then to multidisciplinary projects. Although the offshore experiences is short but ISOICO has played an important role in offshore market, constructing in its Bandar Abbas Yard.ISOICO shipyard is capable of constructing any type of vessel up to about 4 x 80,000 DWT per year on its existing building berths mainly bulk carrier, containership and oil product carrier using advance technology, which after accomplishing the development in process (i.e. two Dry Docks) the constructing capability will increase for the vessel up to about 2 x 300,000 DWT VLCC or 2 x 140,000 m3 LNG carrier per year in addition to the existing capacity.
According to reports published in the British journal "Financial Times" Ukraine has admitted that it exported 12 long range cruise missiles to Iran and six to China in 2001; the missiles were reportedly sold without their nuclear warheads. Ukraine's prosecutor-general told reporters that the Russian businessmen suspected of masterminding the sale, was arrested last July in Prague in response to a Ukrainian warrant. If the new missiles become operational, Iran will be in striking distance of all Middle East states as well as most countries in Europe.
Israel is denying a report in a British newspaper that it plans to attack Iran. But Israel has not ruled out a military strike.
Israel reacted swiftly to a report in London's Sunday Times that it plans a combined air and ground attack on Iran in March, if Teheran does not halt its nuclear program.
"This is ridiculous. I do not know of any decision. I think it is entirely baseless," said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
But Mr. Olmert told reporters that there is cause for concern.
"It is true that Israel is entirely, entirely unhappy about the developments with Iran," he said.
He said the first step is diplomacy, and the U.S. and Europe should take the lead.
"We believe that this is the ultimate responsibility of the international community," he added. "There are contacts, negotiations and initiatives to move it forward to the United Nations Security Council, and I hope that it will come there soon.
There is a precedent for a preemptive strike. The Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel cannot allow Iran to obtain atomic weapons.
"It would be a nightmare for all of us if this kind of regime will hold a nuclear bomb," he said. "It will destabilize not only our region it will destabilize the whole world. And that's why all of us should be united in these days."
Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear program since late October, when the Iranian president publicly called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map." According to Israeli military intelligence, Iran will reach the "point of no return" in developing a nuclear weapon next year.
Israeli officials say if diplomacy fails, there is a military option, but have not specified what action they will take.