Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Israel: Iran Seeks Missiles to Reach U.S

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Israel: Iran Seeks Missiles to Reach U.S

Article excerpt

JERUSALEM -- A senior Israeli official said Thursday that the missile testing site near Tehran that was destroyed in a huge explosion three months ago was developing missiles with a range of some 6,000 miles aimed at the United States.

The assertion went far beyond what rocket experts have established about Iran's missile capabilities, and U.S. officials questioned its accuracy.

The Israeli official, Moshe Yaalon, a deputy prime minister and minister for strategic affairs, said the explosion, at a Revolutionary Guard missile base, hit a system "getting ready to produce a missile with a range of 10,000 kilometers."

"That's the Great Satan," he said, invoking the term Iran often uses to refer to the United States. "It was aimed at America, not at us."

Mr. Yaalon was trying to make the point that the Iranian nuclear program is a threat not only to Israel but, as he put it, "a nightmare for the free world." He said it was a concern to Arab states as well as to the United States and Israel.

U.S. officials said they believed that Mr. Yaalon's assertions were, at best, premature and, at worst, badly exaggerated.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because assessments of Iran's missile capabilities are largely classified, the officials said Iran may harbor the ambition of having missiles that can reach the United States, but it is nowhere close to achieving such a capability. They declined to say what kind of missile work was being done at the base where the explosion occurred.

The maximum range of Iran's known ballistic missiles is roughly 1,200 miles, rocket experts say. That means they could reach targets throughout the Middle East, all of Turkey and parts of Eastern Europe. Iran is known to be working on missiles with a range of 2,000 miles, which are considered medium range. The United States has defined long-range or intercontinental ballistic missiles as having ranges greater than 3,400 miles. …

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