Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Iran needs only two to three more years to produce an ICBM that could reach the United States, Reuters reported on Wednesday (see GSN, Feb. 17).
"They (the Iranians) are working now and investing a lot of billions of dollars in order to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles," Steinitz, who previously led the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defense panel, told CNBC.
"And we estimate that in two to three years they will have the first intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the East Coast of America. So their aim is to put a direct nuclear ballistic threat ... to Europe and to the United States of America," he said.
Iran is now believed to hold missiles with top flight distances of 1,500 miles. Steinitz's statement echoes a 2010 U.S. Defense Department assessment that Iran by 2015 could have missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Jerusalem has long warned of the threat posed by Tehran's atomic and missile operations; it has been linked to cyber strikes against Iranian nuclear sites and to the killings of atomic scientists in its longtime rival nation (see related GSN story, today). There is a growing perception that Israel might be preparing to conduct airstrikes intended to disable Iranian facilities it believes are involved in nuclear-weapon operations. Iran says its nuclear programs are strictly civilian in nature (Reuters, Feb. 22).