• 11 February 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

Iran’s nuclear missile threat: Perceived or Real?

A recent article published in the Roll Call newspaper sharply ratchets up the frenzy over Iran’s purported nuclear missile threat to make the case against looming cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. The author of the piece, retired Navy commander James Lyons, argues that the U.S. is vulnerable to an Iranian nuclear missile attack and urgently needs to upgrade its missile defense systems to defend against this supposed threat. “Iran has already tested intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by using them to send satellites into space”, the author explains, and will have a nuclear weapon tipped ICBM “that could reach American shores in just three years or less.”

Fortunately for the U.S. budget, Iran is far from having such capabilities. The fact is that Iran has not even made a decision to build a nuclear weapon. This is corroborated by the IAEA and the U.S. and other intelligence agencies – who would also be able to detect a sudden effort by the Iranians to start building the bomb. Even if Iran were to start building a nuclear weapon today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has stated that it would take two to five years for Iran to have a weapon and delivery vehicle.

In the hypothetical scenario where Iran chooses to start building the bomb and manages to complete one in a few years time, Iran still will not have the capability to reach the United States with such a weapon. The author’s claim that Iran has “already tested intercontinental ballistic missiles by using them to send satellites into space” is directly disputed by a recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which states that it “seems clear that Iran has a dedicated space launch effort and it is not simply a cover for ICBM development.” This report additionally states that “it is increasingly uncertain whether Iran will be able to achieve ICBM capability by 2015” and that “Iran has not demonstrated the kind of flight test program many view as necessary to produce an ICBM.”

The United States undeniably faces real security challenges in the world, but a nuclear missile threat from Iran is simply not one of them. Iran is long way from posing any such threat to the United States, and to spend tax dollars on this largely imaginary threat would the ultimate exercise in squandering wealth.

Posted By Sina Toossi

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