Sunday, February 3, 2013

Iran is smuggling 'manpad' anti-aircraft missiles for lone militants, warns US

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta accused Iran's paramilitary force of an intensified campaign to destabilize the Middle East by smuggling antiaircraft weapons to its militant allies
Iran's export of so-called manpads—antiaircraft missiles that can be carried by a single person—represent what Mr. Panetta called a dangerous escalation. "There is no question when you start passing manpads around, that becomes a threat—not just to military aircraft but to civilian aircraft," Mr. Panetta told The Wall Street Journal in an interview describing shifting threats to the U.S. as he prepares to leave his post. "That is an escalation"

Western officials have long worried about the spread of such weapons and the risk they pose to airline passengers as well as to military helicopters and jets. Recent U.S. intelligence pointed to new efforts by Iran to smuggle manpads, but few shipments had been intercepted before Jan. 23, when Yemen, aided by the U.S., intercepted a boat carrying the weapons
"It is one of the first times we have seen it," Mr. Panetta said. U.S. investigators said evidence indicated the missiles were supplied by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Tehran's paramilitary force

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
News reports here and here.