With tensions rising in the Mideast, many experts and citizens are left to speculate on what the future will bring for the region.
However, many are wondering what the ramifications will be not only for the Middle East, but for America as well.
The experts hotly debate the actual threat Iran poses to the United States, but one government report actually contends that Iran could have the ability to strike the U.S. as early as 2014.
The report came to light as a result of an FOIA request made by researcher John Greenewald at TheBlackVault.com.
Like most FIOA requests, it took the government more than a decade to respond. However, what they did respond with was a heavily redacted report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency with statements revealing U.S. concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
The 1999 report, titled The Future of Iran’s Long-Range Ballistic Missile Program, makes two interestingly bold statements. The report claims that a long range missile with “a range of 10,000 kilometers would provide the Iranians with missile coverage of Alaska.”
However, these missiles would not reach the continental U.S.
Nevertheless, the report also states that it is possible that Iran could develop a missile “that can strike the united states in the next 10 to 15 years.” As disconcerting as this seems, how does the 11 year old report measure up today?
Iran’s True Nuclear Capability
The truth about Iran’s nuclear capabilities really depend on who you choose to believe.
Israel claims that Iran is on the verge of developing a missile that could reach American soil. During an interview with CNBC, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz stated,
“We estimate that in two to three years they will have the first intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the east coast of America. So their aim is to put a direct nuclear ballistic threat…to Europe and to the United States of America.”
However, many believe that these estimates are somewhat exaggerated and have a political agenda behind them.
According to a veteran CIA Mideast analyst, Paul Pillar, it is highly unlikely that the Iranians have these types of missiles. Miller stated as much in article on Wired.com,
“The intelligence community does not believe [the Iranians] are anywhere close to having an ICBM.”
It seems that most experts believe that it would be around a decade, or even two, before Iran would be wielding an ICBM capable of reaching American shores.
Many experts believe that the Israeli estimations are due to the fact that Iran has plenty of missiles that could easily reach Israel, and that the claims are Israel’s attempt to get the U.S. and Europe on their side.
Missile Defense System Is In Place
Nevertheless, even if Iran had ICBMs in place, the U.S. Army’s commander in Europe, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, is confident that a missile defense system is in place that could protect Europe from an Iranian ballistic missile attack.
The commander confirmed to the Associated Press that a radar defense site is operational in Turkey, which borders Iran on the Northwest.
According to Hertling, “I think we are well on track to conduct missile defense.”
The radar is only one part of the missile defense shield that the U.S., Turkey, and Europe are coordinating in response to Iran’s missile program. The shield will also be made up of interceptor missiles positioned in Romania and Poland along with four ballistic missile defense-capable ships in Spain.
These actions effectively answer the question as to whether Iran be able to strike the U.S. by 2014. Although it is possible, it is highly unlikely that Iran will have that capability in two years.
It is more likely that they will not have that capability until 2024 or even 2030. By then, the missile defense shield should be in full swing, effectively nullifying, or at least lessening the dangers posed by those missiles.