Baghdad Post, December 12 2017 - Iran has provided Houthis in Yemen with highly advanced Soumar.Kh-55 cruise missiles, which can carry a nuclear warhead, military sources told DEBKAfile Monday.
The sources said the maiden operational launch of Iran’s Soumar Kh-55 cruise missile was apparently entrusted to Yemen’s Houthis against a UAE target.
These missiles have been also given to Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy, they noted.
Yemen’s Houthi terrorists last week showed on their TV channel video footage of Iran’s most highly advanced Soumar.Kh-55 cruise missile, which can carry a nuclear warhead. They claimed to have fired it at the unfinished Abu Dhabi power plant on Dec.3.
The United Arab Emirates refuted this claim, saying that any missile reaching their air space would have been intercepted by advanced Emirati air defenses.
This advanced Iranian cruise missile has a maximum range of up to 3,000km. It was reportedly a re-engineered Russian KH-55 cruise missile.
It flew 600km on its test voyage in 2015 and can be launched from ships, aircraft and submarines.
Six examples of the Russian original were smuggled to Iran through Ukraine in 2001. It was never established whether they came with or without their nuclear warheads, but the intelligence presumption was that the vendors (most likely Ukrainian officers in charge of the stores) handed over the technical manuals for mounting them on the missiles.
In April 2015, by which time this embarrassing affair had been brushed out of sight, six world powers signed a nuclear deal with Iran. No one bothered to mention the half a dozen nuclear-capable cruise missiles already reposing quietly in Iran’s arsenal.
But shortly after that deal was in the bag, the Iranian defense minister at the time announced he had just inaugurated what he called “the Soumar production line.”
Two years later, in January 2017, the re-engineered missile had its first field test. While the US officials appeared impervious, the German Die Welt newspaper reported that the Iranian Soumar had hit its target 600km away.
Images appearing on social media showed sections of the Iran-made Soumar/Kh-55 missile on the ground at the al-Jawf governorate of northern Yemen near the Saudi border, attesting to the fact that it was launched from there, but apparently failed to cruise towards its UAE target and exploded shortly after takeoff.
This episode is important as an indicator that Iran is ready to hand over to its Yemeni proxy its most highly advanced nuclear-capable hardware, for the sake of the war.
Tehran has also gifted this weapon to another of its proxies, the Lebanese Hezbollah. Of relevance is the fact that Hezbollah and Iranian officers and missile experts are physically present in Yemen alongside the Houthi terrorists and very likely attended the Soumar’s maiden launch against the UAE.
Hezbollah officers are obviously using the Yemen war to gain valuable experience in the use of cruise missiles, just as they have used the Syrian war to acquire important experience in large-scale combat operations and support for Russian air strikes.