The Diane Rehm Show

Iran and U.S. Missile Defense

Ivo Daalder joined Diane Rehm to discuss Iran's test-firing of a series of missiles and the Bush administration's continued pursuit of a Europe-based missile defense shield to counter the threat from Iran.

Diane Rehm, host: Ivo, if I could start with you, talk about these missile tests. What’s going on, are there new capabilities about which you believe the U.S. needs to be concerned?

Ivo Daalder: Well anytime someone shoots a missile off we have to be concerned. These are systems that, if deployed with weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical or biological), could do a lot of damage -- and they could do a lot of damage over significant ranges. One of the missiles tested yesterday appears to have been a Shahab-3, which has a range of about 2,000 km (about 1,200 miles) and in theory therefore could reach all of Israel and even parts of the southern cone of Europe (Turkey, Greece, those kinds of places), so one has to be worried about that kind of capability by definition. We also have to be worried about the fact that it wasn’t just one test. It was a series of missile tests all launched at the same time showing a wide variety of capabilities. Only one, I should stress, was, as far as I can tell, a longer range missile (one of 1,200 miles, as I said). The rest were all pretty short range, bad for if you’re a neighboring country of Iran, not particularly worrisome if you live further away, but certainly nothing that can hit the United States.

Rehm: What about the success of these missiles?

Daalder: Well, it’s a little early to figure out whether they hit their intended target and it is even possible that one of them didn’t go off or that it didn’t work in the way it was supposed to work. There are reports that just came in just before you walked into the studio here of doctored photographs issued by the Iranians to try to show that something was working when it may not have been working. I don’t know the details, maybe one of our colleagues will call in and let us know.

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