U.S. Offi­cials React to Iran­ian Mis­sile Test

By Jim Gara­mone
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

Iran’s test of short- and medi­um-range mis­siles is a dis­turb­ing devel­op­ment and points to the need for a Euro­pean mis­sile defense sys­tem, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said here today.

Iran test­ed at least sev­en mis­siles yes­ter­day, accord­ing to news reports, capa­ble of hit­ting Israel and parts of Europe.

“Iran’s devel­op­ment of bal­lis­tic mis­siles is a vio­la­tion of U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions and com­plete­ly incon­sis­tent with Iran’s oblig­a­tions to the world,” White House spokesman Gor­don John­droe said to reporters trav­el­ing with Pres­i­dent Bush in Japan. “The Ira­ni­ans should stop the devel­op­ment of bal­lis­tic mis­siles, which could be used as a deliv­ery vehi­cle for a poten­tial nuclear weapon, imme­di­ate­ly.”

The test “address­es the doubts raised by the Rus­sians that the Ira­ni­ans won’t have a longer-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile for 10 to 20 years,” Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon news con­fer­ence today. “The fact is, they just test­ed a pret­ty extend­ed-range [mis­sile].

The sit­u­a­tion demon­strates the emerg­ing mis­sile threat from the Mid­dle East, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said, and the need for a mis­sile defense in Europe. Yes­ter­day, Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleez­za Rice signed an agree­ment with the Czech Repub­lic to emplace a mis­sile-defense radar in that coun­try. The Unit­ed States con­tin­ues talks with Poland to emplace the mis­siles.

“We face with the Ira­ni­ans — and so do our allies and friends — a grow­ing mis­sile threat that is get­ting ever longer and ever deep­er, and where the Iran­ian appetite for nuclear tech­nol­o­gy to this point is still unchecked,” Rice said in Prague yes­ter­day.

“I think that the real­i­ty is that there is a lot of sig­nal­ing going on [among Iran, Israel and the Unit­ed States]. I think every­body rec­og­nizes what the con­se­quences of any kind of a con­flict would be,” Gates said. “This gov­ern­ment is work­ing hard to make sure that the diplo­mat­ic and eco­nom­ic approach to deal­ing with Iran, and try­ing to get the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment to change its poli­cies, is the strat­e­gy and approach that con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)