Official: Iranian Missile Test Could 'Strengthen' U.S. Coalition
By Mary Beth Sheridan
The top White House non-proliferation official says Iran's latest missile test is worrying -- but that there could be a silver lining.
Gary Samore told a lunch of the Arms Control Association today that the test could help persuade skeptics like Russia that Iran is developing dangerous weapons.
He said the test showed Iran had made "significant technical development," in firing a medium-range missile using a solid propellant system instead of liquid fuel.
From a military standpoint, he said, that's important: the missile is "much easier to move around" and "it can be launched on much shorter notice."
The test might convince countries that have been reluctant to penalize Iran that the country's nuclear program isn't just for peaceful energy purposes, as it claims, he said.
"I'm hoping we'll be able to capitalize on the test to strengthen the coalition we already have" that is trying to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, he said.
Samore ticked off what he called several advances in President Obama's ambitious program for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which was announced in a speech in Prague in April.
The U.S. and Russia have kicked off negotiations on extending the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires this December; and there has been progress in "unsticking" a stalemate in talks on an agreement to halt production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium worldwide, he said. Still, negotiations on the latter treaty probably won't start before the end of the year, he said.
Posted at 3:44 PM ET on May 20, 2009
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