By R. JAMES WOOLSEY AND REBECCAH HEINRICHS
In a June 27 interview on ABC's "This Week," CIA Director Leon Panetta warned that it could be a mere two years before Iran is able to threaten other states with nuclear warheads mounted on ballistic missiles. When discussing the new U.S. sanctions against Iran recently signed into law by President Barack Obama, Mr. Panetta said, "Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not."
Three months ago the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that by 2015 Iran, with help from North Korea or Russia, could field an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the East Coast of the United States. This is by no means far-fetched. In early 2009, the Iranians successfully launched their first homegrown satellite into orbit. In March of that same year, Gen. Michael Maples, then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a Senate panel that Iran's successful satellite launch "shows progress in mastering the technology needed to produce ICBMs." Earlier this year Iran successfully orbited a second satellite with an ICBM-class ballistic missile.