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."
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service