Numerous reports indicate Iran could possess a nuclear weapon in 1-3 years and also that it might, in five years, with outside help, be able to hit the United States with a missile.
Iran could develop a ballistic missile capable of striking the United States by 2015, a senior US official told lawmakers, according to AFP.
Asked at a senate hearing about Tehran’s missile capability, James Miller, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said current estimates indicate “that it could potentially be as soon as 2015” when Iran possesses ICBMs capable of reaching the United States.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Sunday that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned in a secret three-page memo to White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s progress toward nuclear arms.
Fox News reported yesterday on a new 12-page unclassified report prepared by the Department of Defense on the Iranian military threat.
In addition to making the same claim regarding Iranian ICBM capabilities by 2015, this new report indicates Iran is an active adversary against the US in Iraq and Iran, and against Israel in Lebanon.
According to Fox, the new DOD report alleges:
“Iran continues to provide money, weapons and training to select Iraqi Shia militants despite pledges by senior Iranian officials to stop such support. Iran also offers strategic and operational guidance to militias and terrorist groups to target U.S. Forces in Iraq and undermine U.S. interests.”
According to Fox News, the report outlines Iran’s efforts to play a “double game” inside Afghanistan:
The regime makes big promises to the Afghan government trying to appear to be a good neighbor, and is also sending weapons into the country, and backing a wide range of groups so “it will have a positive relationship with the eventual leaders.”
Mullahs and missiles (AP Photo)
Regarding the effectiveness of Iranian conventional forces, the DOD report states, according to Fox:
“Iran maintains very sizeable military forces, but they would be relatively ineffective against a direct assault by well trained, sophisticated military such as that of the United States or its allies.”
However, according to Fox, the report states that Iran’s unconventional forces, which include paramilitary forces, “would present a formidable force on Iranian territory.”
A Reuters article about the same DOD report outlines Iran’s continued activities in Lebanon.
With Iranian support, Hezbollah has replenished its arsenal beyond levels it had in the 2006 war with Israel, the report said, without offering specifics, according to Reuters:
“Iran, through its long-standing relationship with Lebanese (Hezbollah), maintains a capability to strike Israel directly and threatens Israeli and U.S. interests worldwide,” it said.
According to Reuters, the DOD estimated the size of Iran’s “Ground Force” at 220,000 personnel and the Revolutionary Guard Corps’s “Ground Resistance Forces” at 130,000 personnel.
It said Iran had between 1,800 and 1,900 tanks.
Iranian defense exercise 2009 (AP Photo)
All this while experts increasingly state in print and on television that sanctions, if enacted against Tehran, will only have limited effect.
Stratfor,a global intelligence website, recently offered this analysis of the Iranian situation:
“The Iranian situation is at an untenable stalemate. The Iranians are proclaiming their invulnerability while a memo written by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in what could be a deliberate leak, is simultaneously saying the United States has no clear strategy to deal with Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, but that plans are constantly being updated.
“U.S. President Barack Obama clearly doesn’t want to deal with Iran, but events are moving in a direction where he must make some decisions. The Europeans are utterly preoccupied with financial crises and the Icelandic volcanic ash, the Russians like the situation just as it is, and the Chinese are not about to give on Iran while the United States is pressing them on trade issues.”
In a related development reported by AFP, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy chief of the Iranian Guards, told state-owned Al-Alam television channel the Revolutionary Guards will begin Thursday a three-day military drill which will test a range of home-built missiles and other weapons.
The exercise will see ground, air and naval units of the Guards participating and is aimed at “preserving the security of Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy chief of Guards told state-owned Al-Alam television channel.
“Iranian missiles and other weapons will be used … to test Iran’s defence capability,” Salami said, according to AFP.
Iran’s Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of up to 1,100 miles and is capable of hitting Israeli and US bases in the region, is paraded during a ceremony marking National Army Day, in front of mausoleum of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, Sunday, April 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
The following sources were used to prepare this article < Click to link >
Reuters–Iranian missile may be able to hit U.S. by 2015
Global Security Newswire–Pentagon Says U.S. could be within reach of Iranian missiles by 2015
Fox News–America in Iran’s cross-hairs?
AFP–US could be in Iran missile range by 2015: US official
John Signoriello can be contacted by email at [email protected]