Moshe Yaalon, a deputy prime minister in Israel, made the assertion based on information he says emanates from an explosion three months ago at a missile-testing site near Teheran. He claims the missiles being tested were of a range that could travel 6,000 miles to U.S. cities on the East Coast.
They are “getting ready to produce a missile with a range of 10,000 kilometers,” Yaalon claimed in a New York Times interview. “That's the Great Satan,” he said, referring to the common term used by Iranian Mullahs to describe the United States. “It was aimed at America, not us.”
The deputy prime minister, by his own words (or that of the government), was attempting to alert U.S. government officials to the real motivation behind Iran's nuclear program. His claim, if verified, would alter the entire face of American policy towards the ongoing Iranian nuclear crisis.
U.S. officials were quick to comment, on condition of anonymity, stating Yaalon's comments were premature at best and badly exaggerated at their worst. Today, the maximum range of Iran's known ballistic missiles is 1,200 miles (within the range of Israel), considered “medium range,” not capable of trans-Atlantic flight.
Yaalon's claim of 10,000 kilometers, slightly more than 6,200 miles, would allow missiles to be launched halfway across the globe, easily within the range of many North American cities, including New York, Boston and Washington.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, addressing reporters in Brussels after a NATO meeting, declined to comment on the highly-charged comments from the deputy prime minister. He further declined to comment on a column by David Ignatius in the Washington Post that reported that Panetta believed there is a “strong likelihood” that Israel would strike Iran in April, May or June.”
At this stage of the crisis and the purported rift between the Israeli Prime Minister and President Obama, U.S. officials remain skeptical as to the timing of the deputy prime minister's comments and the intentions behind the remarks.
Image source of Moshe Yaalon: Wikipedia