Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Iran Building Missiles With North Korea That Reach U.S.

Iran and North Korea are cooperating in the development of long-range missiles that could reach the U.S., according to a Pentagon official. Army Brig. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said in a speech on Monday that the Iranians are working on a space launcher that would help them develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S.. "Not only North Korea, but Iran has shown some significant developments in their missile systems,” Gen. O’Reilly said in the speech, delivered to the George C. Marshall Institute. "They are working in concert with the North Koreans. They have made a claim that they are working toward developing a space launch capability, which also would give them an ICBM capability.” Missile Defense Agency briefing materials said Iran "could have an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. before 2015.”North Korea has already tested a missile said to have a range of more than 6,000 miles, and Iranians were on hand during Pyongyang’s unsuccessful test launch of a missile last July. Gen. O’Reilly said the U.S. missile defense system is designed to counter missiles from "rogue states” targeted at the U.S., according to reporters. His speech marked the first time the Pentagon has publicly commented on the missile cooperation between Iran and North Korea. But last week a British publication quoted a European source who claimed that North Korea was helping Iran prepare for an underground nuclear test, possibly before the end of this year. North Korea denied the claim, calling it a "sheer lie” and "fabrication.” However, North Korea has acknowledged that an Iranian delegation recently met with senior North Korean officials and signed a three-year agreement on scientific exchanges. Pyongyang did not specify those exchanges.