Director of the US Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, says Iran would develop missiles that could hit the US by 2015 to 2017.
“There is good evidence that they (Iranians) are developing longer and longer range missiles and that they are planning to have this capability over the near future,” Obering said at a technical missile defense briefing on Iran’s recent missile tests on Tuesday.
“If you look at the assessment by the Intel community, they say that by about 2015, 2017, in that timeframe, they may even have a missile that can reach the United States, which is an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) class missile,” he added as quoted by Reuters.
Obering’s description of Iran’s missile capabilities was stronger than what other US officials have said so far.
Pointing to last week’s missile tests in Iran, Obering said, “The Iranians themselves are describing … a 2,000-km range missile launch.”
“I believe, based on what I have seen, that they have the ability to do that and to continue to advance in the future, based on what I have seen so far from those (Iranian state media) reports and from the intelligence reports,” the general pointed out.
Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired advanced missiles in a recent military exercise dubbed as the Great Prophet III.
The tests came in response to threats by the US and Israel, which have said they may strike Iran’s nuclear sites if Tehran refuses to halt its nuclear work.
Iran has declared that its missile capability is only intended to defend the country in the case of an attack by enemies.
Meanwhile, Obering also said during the briefing that he believed Iranian missiles could hit Israel and southern Europe.
“I won’t go into detail as to what was fired when. That’s something I think the intel community should answer,” he said.
The Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency, which monitors major weapons threats to the United States and its allies, was more vague in its February 27 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Until now, U.S. officials and analysts have largely dismissed last week’s missile tests as an angry Iranian response to recent military exercises, including an Israeli air exercise in June that was seen as a rehearsal for an attack on Iran.