News / Middle East

    Experts: Nuclear Talks Ignore Iran’s Missiles at World's Peril

    FILE - A military truck carrying a Shahab-3 missile drives by during a military parade commemorating the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran, Sept. 21, 2008.
    FILE - A military truck carrying a Shahab-3 missile drives by during a military parade commemorating the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in Tehran, Sept. 21, 2008.

    Three weeks before a deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran, the failure to address the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile program in any agreement could be a dangerous omission, a panel of experts told U.S. lawmakers Wednesday.

    When Iran and the P5+1 group - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - announced a "framework" understanding on which a final deal, due by June 30, would be based, the issue of Iran’s missiles was not included.

    Yet Tehran, the experts pointed out, has the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East.

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    Experts: Nuclear Talks Ignore Iran’s Missiles at World's Perili
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    VOA News
    June 10, 2015 10:46 PM
    Three weeks before a deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran, the failure to address the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile program in any agreement could be a dangerous omission, a panel of experts told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday.

    David Cooper of the U.S. Naval War College testified before the House Foreign Affairs sub-committee on the Middle East and North Africa, that the links between medium and long-range missiles and a nuclear payload are clear.

    "At this moment, Iran is the only country in the world that says it has no nuclear weapons ambitions and yet has fielded an intermediate-range ballistic missile," Cooper said.

    Robert Joseph, senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy, underlined what's at stake if a deal that is flawed - as he sees it - goes forward.

    "If there is an agreement along the lines described by the White House and the Iranian leadership, I believe it will represent the single greatest strategic mistake in the national security area in the last 35 years," he said.

    Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the panel that Iranian medium- and long-range missiles are notoriously innaccurate. He said the Israelis have long viewed them not as a strategic weapon but one meant to spread mass terror.

    But he and the other experts agreed that Iran's missile technology - developed with significant technical input from North Korea and Russia - is improving.
    Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency) said he fears the consequences if the deal now on the table goes through.

    "Once sanctions are lifted, the genie is out of the bottle; we’re going to see proliferation in the region because we’ve looked at this too narrowly," he said.

    Flynn testified that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt "are already talking to the Russians and the Chinese about developing nuclear capabilities in their countries."

    The panel's chairwoman, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, opened the hearing by saying there are "many glaring omissions" in the possible deal that have caused many to characterize it as "weak and dangerous."

    Ros-Lehtinen said the fact that Iran continues to make advances on Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) - which are only used to carry nuclear weapons - belie the notion that Iran’s program is for peaceful uses.

    "Perhaps the biggest failure of the negotiations was to limit it to just the nuclear profile" and not include Iran’s continued progress on [its] ballistic missile program," she said.


    Mark Snowiss

    Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Amin from: Texas
    June 11, 2015 8:14 AM
    Why does VOA provide a platform for Israeli propaganda? Enough is enough, there is no balance. Israel can have the most advanced armaments paid for by the US and no one questions their them. We have fallen into this trap where Iran is all evil and Israel is all good. That's nonsense.
    In Response

    by: PermReader
    June 11, 2015 11:37 AM
    They are already at home in Texas and formulate their demands to the American government in every mosque!
    In Response

    by: Buzz
    June 11, 2015 9:27 AM
    Don't worry about VOA, state your viewpoint and consider a move to Iran, if life is that great there.

    by: Craig from: MN
    June 11, 2015 6:32 AM
    Funny how we are worried about Iran who has never attacked America. While on the other hand we don't worry about the country that has attacked us multiple times...Israel! USS Liberty, 9/11 and others with more to come...you can count on that, it's what they do to the Goyim.
    In Response

    by: Kim from: Linedel
    June 11, 2015 8:58 AM
    What a stupid naive comment - Arabs are slaughtering each other, raping women and children, they admit they were behind 9/11 and yet u blame Israel - when ISIS is raping and beheading your family who will you blame?

    by: PermReader
    June 11, 2015 5:41 AM
    Ridiculouse world politics toward Iranian Bomb: The Iran treaty had been smoothly driving forward by Omama`s efforts and the Congress passivity. Then appeared the diabolic Netanyahu and endless questions,dangers and controwerses appeared,and no end is seen.Ha Ha!

    by: Solaris
    June 11, 2015 12:47 AM
    Iran and its evil ambitions should be stopped no doubt about it, but at which cost? lets not make a preemptive military action now considering the European countries position and if the Iranian Mullas decided to go further by taking an action like secretly developing a weapon or something then of course lifting sanctions would not a wise signal to them now.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    June 10, 2015 11:30 PM
    I think we should not further complicate the negotiation while it is going smoothly. Iran has some types of ballistic missiles but they cannot be compared with those of the US and its allies in terms of quantity and quality. So they pose no threat to Israel as well as other nations. If Israel is too scared of them, Russia will help Israel with air defence technology. So there is nothing to worry about. Iran alson has its right to develop its own missiles as well as it will not use them to attack other countries unless it is attacked first. I think the biggest threat to world security is that the USA has been granted by itsself the right to use missles to attack any other countries in this world without its being attacked first. It can kill innocent civilians, women as well as children, with its drones and labeled them all terrorists.

    by: Shawn from: Vancouver, BC, Canada
    June 10, 2015 7:33 PM
    "Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the panel that Iranian medium- and long-range missiles are notoriously innaccurate"

    If Saddam was able to hit Tel aviv with a few old Soviet era Scud missiles in the first Gulf war I'm sure Iran could realistically hit Tel Aviv especially if you consider the fact that Hezbollah is stationed in Southern Lebanon

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