Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 9
By Umid Niayesh- Trend:
Iran is capable of eventually developing long-range missiles capable of threatening Europe and the United States, although it has denied any interest in doing so, Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association Senior Fellow and Director of ACA's Realistic Threat Assessment and Response Project told Trend Dec. 9.
Most experts outside the US government seem to think Iran would not be able to deploy such weapons until the 2020s, he said, adding the official US projections have been more alarmist, until this year when Admiral Bill Gortney, head of the Northern Command, wrote to Congress that Iran was not likely to have an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) "until later in the decade, at the earliest."
While responding to a question about possible measures that may be taken by the US for removing the threat, Thielmann said the most important action against an Iranian intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) /ICBM threat has already being taken by implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which will prevent any Iranian long-range missile from having a nuclear warhead for more than a decade.
Also, the existing US and international sanctions have and will continue to inhibit Iran's missile development efforts, the former US diplomat added.
Thielmann further commented on Iran's missile threats against Tel Aviv, saying Israel is vulnerable to both medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) based in Iran and the thousands of rockets based in Lebanon.
"These weapons carry conventional warheads. Any future nuclear-tipped missile attack on Israel would be likely to provoke nuclear retaliation."
Commenting on the disputes over Iran's recent ballistic missile test, which allegedly took place Nov. 21, the expert said that it violates the UN Security Council Resolution 1929.
"UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (from 2010) is still applicable until UNSC 2231 replaces it on "implementation day" for the JCPOA," he said.
Thielmann explained that in paragraph 9 of UNSC Res. 1929, "(the UN Security Council) decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology."
The Western media outlets quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the test of a Ghadr-110, a spinoff of the Shahab-3 missile, which is a liquid-fueled missile with a 1,900-kilometer range and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead was held near Chabahar, a port city near Iran's border with Pakistan.
"I would expect the US Government to condemn the violation as it did with regard to the Emad test," Thielmann said, responding to a question about Washington's reaction towards the issue.
The expert also said that in recent years, most of Iran's missile work appears to be centered on improving the capabilities of its large inventory of shorter-range missiles.
Prior to the Emad test in October 2015, Iran had not flight-tested a medium-range ballistic missile for three years, Thielmann said, adding the Emad and the latest reported test apparently used the older liquid-fuel rocket engine technology of the Shahab/Ghadr MRBMs rather than the more advanced solid-fuel-based Sejjil.
He underlined that the United States does not consider these weapons "strategic" or "long-range" (since they are neither intermediate-range ballistic missiles nor intercontinental-range ballistic missiles).
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