October 18, 2009
Council on Foreign Relations: Iran's Ballistic Missile Program
"U.S. President Barack Obama cited the rising threat of Iran's ballistic missile program as a key driver in his decision to alter course on a Bush-era missile shield for Europe. Tehran's arsenal is now "capable of reaching Europe," the president said in September 2009. Less than two weeks after that assertion--and hours after world powers disclosed a secret uranium enrichment facility near Qom--Tehran's Revolutionary Guards staged a full weekend of test firings, blasting a series of medium- and short-range missiles in a show of military strength (NYT). Western defense analysts say the missiles tested have a range sufficient to reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf, while Iranian General Abdullah Araqi claimed that Iran's arsenal now has the ability to "hit any place from which a threat is posed to Iran." But many questions remain about Iran's ballistic missile program. Western analysts can't say for sure how far Iranian technology has advanced, and experts frequently question Tehran's assertions on range and payload size. And much like Iran's nuclear program, international observers are largely left to guess at Iranian intentions."