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Iranian Regime Tests Missiles

The Iranian regime’s testing of what it claims are ballistic missiles capable of reaching twelve hundred miles does not mean the United States is closer to a war with Iran, says U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The diplomatic and economic approach to pressuring Iran to change its policies is the approach that the U.S. will continue to follow, he said in a press conference.

But Mr. Gates said the testing shows the danger posed by Iran because of its missile program:

“This [testing] certainly addresses the doubts raised by the Russians that the Iranians won’t have a longer-range ballistic missile for ten to twenty years. The fact is they’ve just tested a missile that has a pretty extended range. So my view, in the first instance, is we’ve been saying, as we’ve talked about missile defense in Europe, that there is a real threat.”

The U.S. and the Czech Republic recently signed an agreement allowing the U.S. to build an anti- ballistic missile shield on Czech soil. The U.S. is also hoping to build ten interceptor missiles in Poland. Such defenses are necessary, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “to counter the threat from states like Iran that continue to pursue missiles of ever-longer range.”

At a press conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, Secretary of State Rice said she had a message for Iran after its missile tests in the Persian Gulf:

“We will defend American interests and defend the interest of our allies ... In the Gulf area, the United States has enhanced its security capacity, its security presence. And we are working closely with our allies to make certain that they are capable of defending themselves. And we take very, very strongly our obligations to help our allies defend themselves. And no one should be confused about that.”

Secretary of State Rice urged Iran to engage with the international community in a positive way, and said there is a clear path for Iran to do so: the recent package of incentives offered Iran in June by the P-5+1 countries, if Iran complies with U.N. Security Council demands and fully and verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment activities. Iran’s leaders ought to follow that path, said Secretary of State Rice, not that of “threats against America or threats against America’s allies, because frankly, it’s not going to do them any good.”