Renews Concerns About Ballistic Missile Development
Iran's launch of a low-orbit satellite into
orbit this week "is clearly a concern of ours" because
it could lead to the development of a ballistic missile system,
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Tuesday.
Morrell responded to questions about Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's announcement that Iran had launched its first
Iranian-built satellite into orbit. A domestically built
Ambassador-2 or Safir-2 rocket reportedly carried the satellite
Iran has "officially achieved a presence in space," Ahmadinejad
declared as Iran observed the 30th anniversary of the Islamic
revolution. The launch heightened concern that Iran could take the
next step of developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of
delivering nuclear warheads.
"It is certainly a reason for us to be concerned about Iran and
its continued attempts to develop a ballistic missile program of
increasingly long range," Morrell said today. "Obviously, there are
dual-use capabilities in the technology here which could be applied
toward the development of a long-range ballistic missile."
The United States isn't the only country concerned about Iran's
activities. "Everybody in the region," including Israel and its
Arab neighbors, as well as US allies in Europe and Russia, has
raised concern, Morrell said.
During conversations with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates,
former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
referred to Iran's activities as Russia's "Number 1 security
threat," Morrell said.
Monday's launch only reinforced these concerns about Iran,
Morrell told reporters.
"We have long recognized ... that they pose a real threat, and
it is a growing threat, and that they are determined to develop
long-range ballistic missiles," he said. "And I think all of Europe
has recognized that to be the case, and that is why they
unanimously embraced a third site for missile defense in
NATO plans to put a European missile defense system in place to
combat missiles fired from rogue states such as Iran. The radar for
the NATO system will be in the Czech Republic, and the 10
interceptor missiles will be based in Poland.
Deputy State Department spokesman Robert Wood called for
increased pressure from the international community, including
Russia and China, to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"Russia and China share our concern about what Iran has been
doing, not only with regard to its nuclear program, but ... with
regard to missile technology," he said. "I think, frankly, everyone
can do better with regard to trying to limit Iran's ability to act
... with regard to missile technology and its nuclear program."
UN Security Council Resolution 1718 prohibits Iran from engaging
in missile-related activities.
(Aero-News thanks Donna Miles, American Forces Press