The U.S. Defense Department appears to have reduced the level of threat it believes Iran's ballistic-missile work directly poses to the United States.
The Pentagon's most recent annual report to Congress on Iran's military capabilities does not touch on the potential for Iran to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile in 2015. Rather, the report's executive summary makes note of Iran's work on space rockets, which has more indirect applications for ICBM development, Inside Defense reported on Wednesday.
"Iran has publicly stated it may launch a space vehicle by 2015 that could be capable of intercontinental ballistic missile ranges if configured as a ballistic missile," reads the report, which was completed in January but only now reported on.
The department in its previous report to Congress, completed in 2013, offered a much more alarming assessment, saying that Iran as early as 2015 could be ready to test-fire a ballistic missile that could strike the United States.
Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, told the newsletter he saw important differences between the 2013 and 2014 assessments.
"I would regard that as a significant change of language, meaning that the U.S. intelligence community is losing confidence in their earlier prediction of 2015 which has been very heavily quoted, of course, by friends of missile defense and others wishing to pump up the Iranian threat," said Thielmann, a former staffer on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.