A Tale of Two Defense Secretaries
Iran is placing extraordinary emphasis on its ballistic missile and WMD development programs. The ballistic missile infrastructure in Iran is now more sophisticated than that of North Korea, and has benefited from broad, essential, long-term assistance from Russia and important assistance from China as well. Iran is making very rapid progress in developing the Shahab-3 MRBM, which like the North Korean No Dong has a range of 1300 km. This missile may be flight tested at any time and deployed soon thereafter.
We judge that Iran now has the technical capability and resources to demonstrate an ICBM-range ballistic missile, similar to the TD-2 (based on scaled-up Scud technology) within five years of a decision to proceed-whether that decision has already been made or is yet to be made.
– Donald Rumsfeld, chairman, Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat, July 15, 1998
The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab-3, is developing more rapidly than previously projected. This poses an increased and more immediate threat to our forces on the European continent, as well as to our allies.
On the other hand, our intelligence assessment also now assesses that the threat of potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities has been slower to develop than was estimated in 2006.
– Robert Gates, this morning. The only way to vindicate Rumsfeld is to believe that Iran hasn’t made a decision to proceed with an ICBM, in which case there’s little reason to fear the Iranian regime.