U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Wednesday's Iranian missile
tests provide further evidence of the need for a European missile
defense system, but he says the tests do not make military
confrontation with Iran any more likely. VOA's Al Pessin reports from
Secretary Gates indicated that the Iranian test
demonstrated enhanced capability for the country's Shahab Three
missile, but he said he could not provide details. Previous versions
of the missile are believed to have a range of about 2,000 kilometers,
enough to reach from western Iran to the western shore of the Black Sea.
Gates says the test provides evidence to support the U.S. view that
Europe needs a system to defend against Iranian missiles.
certainly addresses the doubts raised by the Russians that the Iranians
won't have a longer range ballistic missile for 10 to 20 years," said
Robert Gates. "The fact is they just tested a missile that has a pretty
extended range. So, my view, in the first instance, is we've been
saying, as we've talked about missile defense in Europe, that there is
a real threat. And it seems to me that the test this morning
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice and her Czech counterpart signed an agreement to place an
anti-missile radar installation in the Czech Republic. Talks with
Poland for an anti-missile launch site appear to have hit a new snag,
but a Pentagon official says "rather intense discussions" are
continuing and "good progress" is being made.
tests were accompanied by sharp rhetoric. The chief of Iran's
Revolutionary Guards said the country's missile arsenal is ready to be
fired at "any time, quickly and with accuracy," and that "enemy targets
are under surveillance. On Tuesday, another Iranian official said
Israel and U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf would be targeted if Iran
Asked whether those statements and Wednesday's
missile tests make a military confrontation with Iran more likely,
Secretary Gates said he does not think so.
"There is a lot of
signaling going on," he said. "But I think everybody recognizes what
the consequences of any kind of a conflict would be. And I will tell
you that 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
is the approach that continues to dominate."
The concern about
Iran's missiles is intensified by its effort to develop nuclear
weapons, an effort the United Nations Security Council members and
Germany are trying to convince Iranian leaders to abandon.