The word is out, promulgated by the Iranians themselves: Iran says it has underground missile silos.
Of all the challenges Iran has faced in its quest to become a nuclear weapons power, this has to be the easiest by far. Placing a missile in an underground silo does several things: it makes it harder to destroy the missile and it provides for a faster missile launch. The first is due to the hardness and structure of being in the ground (less susceptible to blast and overpressure) and the second is because many of the launch preps can already be done. The third item is related to the first; ground based silos complicate targeting for an attacking force. Iran also has a series of underground nuclear enrichment facilities that are perhaps hardened (but not silo based; there might be a few problems with that) a la Cheyenne Mountain.
Back to the whole Iranian missile thing as delivered by Stars and Stripes:
[Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Force Amir Ali] Hajizadeh said the Guard’s arsenal already includes missiles with a range of about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) – putting Israel, U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf and parts of southeastern and eastern Europe within Iran’s reach.
So when Hajizadeh says Iran has missiles emplaced in in-ground launchers (which pending another National Intelligence Estimate saying confidence is high Iran has terminated their silo-based missile program), it means he is either lying through his teeth or he isn’t. Not helpful I know; sorry.
The missiles, he [Hajizadeh] said, were specifically designed for Israeli and U.S. targets. Iran’s known missiles of such range are the Shahab-3 and the Sajjil. Iran considers Israel and United States its top enemies.
"There is no threat from any country to us other than the U.S. and the Zionist regime," Hajizadeh was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency. "The range of our missiles has been designed on the basis of the distance to the Zionist regime and the U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf region."
Hajizadeh said Iran "possess the technology" but will not manufacture missiles with a range over 1,250 miles. He gave no details. "We have no intention to produce such missiles."
Iran gets their missile technology from North Korea who themselves had it trickle down from China and earlier, Russia. I suppose you could say North Korea “has” the technology, even though they haven’t been able to make it work correctly yet. But why would Iran want to get damaged goods/unproven technology from North Korea at this point? It could only serve to antagonize without providing any real capability.
Western intelligence reports say Iran is seeking to acquire the capability to produce inter-continental missiles with a range of up to 3,750 miles (6,000 kilometers), a claim Iran has denied.
Iran is already pursuing an ambitious “space launch” program which has plenty of natural bleed-over into ICBMs. I’d expect Iran to become even more aggressive in seeking to acquire ICBMs when their technology providers have demonstrated they can make it work and when they can miniaturize nuclear weapons. North Korea—according to South Korea—is said to have the ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons.
Because the construction of underground silos is quite observable from space, I’ll wait for the release of some Google Earth/Geo-Eye images with the evidence. The non-refuting of the Iranian silo story by the intelligence community says much.
No doubt this effort (acquiring nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and infrastructure) is all reflective of Iran’s peaceful and benign intentions.