The New York Times had a story yesterday (5/21/09) about the test of an Iranian missile “that was capable of striking Israel and parts of Western Europe.” This was an important point in the article–reporters David E. Sanger and Nazila Fathi included it in their lead paragraph, and later listed it among “three technologies necessary to field an effective nuclear weapon”: “The second is developing a missile capable of reaching Israel and parts of Western Europe, and now the country has several likely candidates.”
The article reported that the range of the missile is “believed to be more than 1,200 miles.” Which led me to wonder: Which “parts of Western Europe” are within 1,200 miles of Iran? Well, the city in Iran closest to Western Europe is Tabriz, and looking at this distance calculator shows that Tabriz is less than 1,200 miles from…eastern Crete.
Now, Tabriz is not right at the border of Iran, so you could probably launch a missile with a range of 1,200 miles from some part of Iranian soil and have it land in, say, Athens. You certainly couldn’t reach Italy, let alone any of the other countries that probably leap to mind when you think of “Western Europe.” So why didn’t the Times say “Israel and Greece” when describing the missile’s potential range? Would that be too, I don’t know, unalarming?