Iran has overtaken North Korea in the development of long-range sophisticated missiles, as demonstrated by the recent launch of a number of new missiles during military maneuvers in Iran, Uzi Rubin, the former head of Israel’s Homa Missile Defense Agency, said on Thursday.
General Petraeus said today that Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons has been slowed “a bit” and claimed that it would not have them this year. Speaking in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee Petraeus said “It has, thankfully, slid to the right a bit and it is not this calendar year, I don’t think.”
U.S. General David Petraeus said on Tuesday Iranian efforts to develop a nuclear weapon appear to have been delayed “a bit” and voiced confidence it would not have a bomb this year.
The comments by the head of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, underscored the Obama administration’s message to Israel and Gulf allies — that there is time to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program by imposing more economic sanctions.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s top military advisers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been playing down the effectiveness of using military force against Iran.
Iran continues to enrich uranium in blatant defiance of the U.N. Security Council. The Iranian government has said that they will be stepping up their uranium enrichment levels from 3.5% to 20%. This is worrisome because although it takes 90% purity to make a nuclear bomb, the low-level enrichment of nuclear materials is the most time-consuming and difficult step in the process. 20% enrichment would mean that the Iranians are that much closer to possessing weapons grade nuclear material.
The Pentagon said on Tuesday that the United States wanted a U.N. Security Council resolution “within weeks” to tackle Iran’s nuclear program as Iran said it had begun making higher-grade nuclear fuel.
The Islamic Republic, which denies its program has military aims, announced on Sunday it would produce uranium enriched to a level of 20 percent for a Tehran research reactor making medical isotopes for cancer patients.
This followed a failure to agree terms for a proposed nuclear swap with major powers, under which Iran would send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for such fuel.