Gates raises specter of Iran CBRN attack on Europe

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that the Obama administration’s decision to overhaul missile defenses came after intelligence reports indicated Iran probably has the capability to attack Europe with hundreds of missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.

“One of the elements of the intelligence that contributed to the decision on the phased adaptive array (approach) was the realization that if Iran were actually to launch a missile attack on Europe, it wouldn't be just one or two missiles, or a handful,” Gates said at a congressional hearing, Reuters reports. “It would more likely be a salvo kind of attack, where you would be dealing potentially with scores or even hundreds of missiles.”

The U.S. announced last September that it planned to integrate sea and land-based missile defenses in and around Europe, according to Reuters.
Gates said having missile interceptor systems in place by 2020 is crucial due to the missile threat from Iran and North Korea.

Gates also tried to allay Russia’s concerns by downplaying the interceptor system’s abilities.

“Our missile defenses do not have the capability to defend against the Russian Federation's large, advanced arsenal,” Gates said, Reuters reports. “Consequently, U.S. missile defenses do not and will not affect Russia's strategic deterrent.”

The U.S. estimates that Iran could produce enough bomb-grade fuel for a nuclear weapon in approximately one year. Iran would need three to five years, estimates say, to deploy a working one.