Europe could face hundreds of missiles in Iran attack, U.S. Defence Secretary warns
By MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE
Last updated at 2:38 PM on 18th June 2010
Iran could shower Europe with ‘scores or even hundreds’ of missiles in a single attack, America’s defence secretary warned today.
Robert Gates said U.S. intelligence units have reported a growing threat in Iran’s ballistic missile capability.
Today, Mr Gates said: ‘One of the elements of the intelligence that contributed to the decision on the phased adaptive array (approach) was the realisation that if Iran were actually to launch a missile attack on Europe, it wouldn't be just one or two missiles, or a handful.
‘It would more likely be a salvo kind of attack, where you would be dealing potentially with scores or even hundreds of missiles.’
Threat: Iranian missiles, seen being tested in 2008, could hit Europe, the U.S. says
He also said the Iranian danger, rather than Russia, was the reason President Barack Obama announced an overhaul of Nato’s European missile defences.
And he claimed the upgraded missile interceptors ‘would give us the ability to protect our troops, our bases, our facilities and our allies in Europe.’
The multibillion-dollar effort is designed to defend against Iranian missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads, Mr Gates said.
Although, he sought to allay Russian fears by publicly defences were only concerned with attacks from Iran.
Speaking at a congressional hearing, he said: ‘Our missile defences do not have the capability to defend against the Russian Federation's large, advanced arsenal.
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‘Consequently, U.S. missile defences do not and will not affect Russia's strategic deterrent.’
However, Mr Gates poured doubt on Mr Obama’s hope that Moscow might take part in the missile defence system in partnership with the U.S.
He said: ‘There is no meeting of the minds on missile defence. The Russians hate it. They've hated it since the late 1960s.
‘They will always hate it, mostly because we'll build it and they won't.’
And, in a further attack on Russia, he said Moscow’s approach to Iran had been ‘schizophrenic,’ pursuing commercial ties while acknowledging that a nuclear-armed Tehran would pose a major security threat.
Last September the U.S. announced plans to integrate sea- and land-based missile defences in and around its Nato allies in Europe, referred to as the ‘phased adaptive approach.’
The CIA has long warned about Iran's growing missile threat and officials say anti-ballistic systems should cover all of Europe by 2018.
Mr Gates voiced confidence that upgraded missile interceptors in development ‘would give us the ability to protect our troops, our bases, our facilities and our allies in Europe.’
But he acknowledged that countries other than Iran and North Korea may pose a future threat to the West
He said having interceptor systems in place by 2020 was critical because ‘I think by 2020 we may well see it from other states, especially if we're unsuccessful in stopping Iran from building nuclear weapons.’
But, for now, Iran remains the main American focus.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said: ‘We are clearly dealing with a country that has made no secret of its desire to develop a robust, plentiful, increasingly capable missile arsenal.’ But he said U.S. intelligence on the Iranian missile program was ‘an imperfect science.’
‘We have been proven wrong before. We have had to make adjustments,’ Morrell said.
He said the administration's approach to missile defense ‘will allow us the flexibility so that as intelligence changes, as the situation changes in these rogue states developing long-range and medium-range missile capabilities, we will have the wherewithal to adjust our defences.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1287651/Iran-capable-firing-hundreds-missiles-Europe-warn-U-S.html#ixzz0rMYidjjU