A US intelligence chief warned Iran is still developing missiles that can hit the US with a nuclear head.
Director of US National Intelligence Dan Coats warned Iran is proceeding with its ballistic missile technology development in blatant violation of United Nations (UN) resolutions.
In a written testimony given to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday, Coats stressed Iran is steadily improving the range and power of its ballistic missiles to develop technology capable of carrying a nuclear warhead over thousands of miles to hit US soil.
Coats insists the Iranian ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missile) could actually be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon.
“We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” he writes.
According to Coats’ report, Iran is using its space program as a disguise to illegally perfect ICBMs, as the expertise needed to launch both satellites and ICBMs is similar.
“Progress on Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles use similar technologies,” Coats says.
“Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD [weapons of mass destruction], and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East,” he writes.
According to the latest US intelligence assessments, Iran’s focus on ICBMs violates international prohibitions barring such activity.
“Iran is pursuing capabilities to meet its nuclear energy and technology goals and to give it the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so,” Coats writes in the testimony.
The disclosure comes just days after Iranian military leaders announced the pending launch of two new domestically produced satellites into space in the coming months. US national security experts think this could be part of the country’s larger nuclear weapons program.
Foremost State Sponsor of Terrorism
Coats also notes, “Iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism.”
“Tehran continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats -including against US allies in the region,” Coats writes.
In January 2016, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was implemented to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program would be exclusively peaceful.
With the restrictions in place, it is estimated that it would take between a few months and a year for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.
Iranian military leaders claim that testing missiles is not a breach of the agreement.
While testing missiles is not technically a breach of the nuclear deal, it violates the spirit of the agreement.
“Iran continues to develop a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target US and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs [drones], ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles,” Coats writes.
Iran claims its military development is for defense purposes only.
However, many of these weapons were given to the Hezbollah terror organization and used against Israel’s civilian population during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to use its missiles against Israel.