Iran's improved Sejil 2 medium-range missile

The Department of Defense has submitted a report to Congress that warns Iran may be able to reach the United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2015.

If Iran also successfully develops a nuclear weapon within that time, the consequences would be devastating for the U.S. and its allies in range of an Iranian missile. However, the Obama Administration’s missile defense plans to counter this looming threat will not sufficiently protect the U.S. from an Iranian ICBM.

According to a White House Fact Sheet released last September, the “phased adaptive approach” to missile defense will expand defenses against short- and medium-range missile by 2015; short-, medium, and intermediate-range threats by 2018; and “the potential future ICBM threat” in the 2020 time frame.

Just recently, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy

Bradley Roberts told a House Armed Services Subcommittee that 100 percent of Europe would be covered by the U.S. missile defense system by 2018. Even that claim is questionable because of the President has rejected the faster “spiral development” program and nominated leading missile defense critic Philip Coyle to an advisory position within the Administration.

Obama’s phased adaptive approach replaced the Bush Administration’s commitment to deploy a European missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, which originally planned to deploy land-based interceptors by 2013. Canceling the “third site” delayed the deployment of longer-range missile defense systems.

“Under the new plan, the U.S. will have no long-range, intercontinental, defense capabilities until 2020,” Heritage Foundation Research Fellow Baker Spring argued following the President’s decision. “If projections that Iran will produce a long-range missile by 2015 are correct, 2020 is too late.”

The DoD’s confirmation that Iran could reach the U.S. with an ICBM by 2015 demands that the Administration change course on missile defense to ensure America and it’s allies will be protected from emerging threats.

Jeffrey Chatterton is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: