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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Iran's Development of ICBM

July 15, 2014

Dear President Obama:

With the current round of comprehensive negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran set to conclude later this month, we write to express our serious concerns regarding Iran's development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) that could be used to strike the United States. While conducting negotiations about its nuclear program, Iran is simultaneously continuing development of its ballistic missiles. The nuclear negotiations with Iran may provide the best opportunity to limit a threat that already imperils our Middle Eastern and European allies, and that could directly impact U.S. territory.

The U.S. intelligence community believes Iran could have intercontinental capability as early as next year. In 2013, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) that the "Iranians are pursuing development of two systems that potentially could have intercontinental capability...the belief is about the first time they'd be ready to do that would be as early as 2015." Last year, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) reaffirmed this assertion in their "Ballistic & Cruise Missile Threat" report. The report concluded, "Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015." In a February 11, 2014, hearing, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, reiterated the estimate that Iran could have an ICBM capability in 2015.

These estimates are particularly troubling given the fact that experts believe that ballistic missiles would provide Iran with its most likely method to deliver nuclear weapons. In his January 2014 statement for the record for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on worldwide threats, DNI Clapper assessed that Iran would choose a ballistic missile as its "preferred method" of delivering nuclear weapons.

On February 26, 2014, General Charles Jacoby, the Commander of Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), testified that while the U.S. has engaged in the P5+1 negotiations, Iran has "not stopped aspirational goals toward ICBM technologies."

Iran's continued ballistic missile development violates UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1929 of 2010 which clearly stated that "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons...."

In light of these developments and Iran's continued defiance of UNSCR 1929, we believe that a failure to include restrictions on Iran's rapidly-advancing ballistic missile programs in a nuclear deal would represent a serious mistake. Curbing Tehran's ability to research, develop, flight-test, and deploy potential nuclear delivery systems would help slow a potential Iranian dash to an ICBM-delivered nuclear weapon.

An Iran with a nuclear weapons capability represents a grave threat to the United States and our allies, and an effective delivery system is a key element of a nuclear weapons capability. We believe the administration should not conclude any nuclear accord with Tehran without addressing the threat that Iranian ballistic missiles could pose to our nation.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

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