Iran continues to develop ballistic missile technology that can be used for nuclear weapons, despite the ongoing P5+1 talks over its nuclear program, according to a Pentagon report (.pdf) released to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Bloomberg Business reported Wednesday. The current nuclear talks, with a deadline of June 30, don’t address Iran’s missile program.
On Tuesday, the Hudson Institute hosted an event on Iran’s missile program, focusing on both the conventional and unconventional threats it poses. One of the panelists, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, declared, “I think that this is a major, major shortcoming of these negotiations, … [which] may rank as even a bigger concession than the concessions about Fordow, the concessions about Arak heavy water reactor, the concessions about the advanced centrifuges.” Another panelist, Michael Eisenstadt, Director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, added, “It would have been preferable if, I think, missiles were folded into negotiations.” The fact that they are not, he continued, underscores the need to address Iran’s past work on weaponization.
Dr. David Cooper, Professor and Chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, explained that “Iran does say that their nuclear weapons program is peaceful, but I would argue that the missiles may tell a different story.” He then concluded, “Iran has a very capable missile force, and the nature and scale of those programs has long belied the peaceful nuclear intentions that Iran claims.”
In April 2013, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, told (.pdf) members of Congress, “We judge Iran would likely choose a ballistic missile as its preferred method of delivering a nuclear weapon, if one is ever fielded. Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of delivering WMD.” He added, “Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, and it is expanding the scale, reach, and sophistication of its ballistic missile arsenal.”
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