This is a very personal issue for us as we were involved in discussing the threat to Europe and the need for missile defense starting around 1990….
Though we disagree with much of what the Arms Control Association says, we always find some food for thought…..
From The Arms Control Association
In 1999 and 2001, the National Intelligence Council stated that Iran could develop an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015. In recent years, U.S. government agencies have affirmed those estimates, arguing that “Iran could have long-range missiles capable of reaching the U.S. and Europe before 2015” and that “proposed U.S. missile defense assets in Europe would defend the U.S. and much of Europe against long-range ballistic missile threats launched from the Middle East.” Accordingly, Washington intends to build a missile defense system in Europe by around 2012.
Can Iran field an ICBM capable of striking the United States by 2012? Iran has more than a decade of experience with developing single-stage, short-range and medium-range missiles that can reach neighboring countries and Israel. It has yet to demonstrate a capability for a longer-range missile, although within a few years it may have the means to develop and deploy a 3,000-4,000-kilometer-range missile that can strike western Europe. Iran would find it difficult, though, to field a 10,000-kilometer-range ICBM that can strike the United States by 2012-2015 unless North Korea or another country successfully develops and tests such a system and transfers it to Iran. Even with such foreign assistance, it would likely take Tehran several additional years of development and testing before it could produce and deploy a modest number of such missiles.
Iran’s Missile Programs
Iran initially sought ballistic missiles during its war with Iraq, when hundreds of Iraqi missiles struck Iranian cities. Tehran’s missile program then developed in several phases. From the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, Iran purchased 300-kilometer-range Scud-B and 600-kilometer-range Scud-C missiles from North Korea, and it also indigenously assembled and built Scuds. Then Iran developed the single-stage, liquid-fuel Shahab-3 missile. This approximately 16-metric-ton missile has a range of 1,300 kilometers with a 750-kilogram payload and is derived from North Korea’s Nodong missile. The Shahab-3 was first flight-tested in July 1998 and reportedly completed its development test series after its sixth flight in July 2003.
Since the turn of the century, Iran has pursued a number of other missile projects, although it has not yet flight-tested a new medium-range or long-range ballistic missile. One project involves modifications to the Shahab-3. In August 2004, Iran tested a Shahab-3 with a bulbous nose cone reportedly capable of accommodating a nuclear warhead. In August 2005, Iran stated that it had increased the range of the Shahab-3 to 2,000 kilometers. Iran again tested the Shahab-3 in January 2006 and May 2006, and the January 2006 test may have involved a more advanced North Korean Nodong-B missile…..
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