Iran has received its first batch of North Korean-made surface-to-surface missiles that put European countries within firing range, Israel’s military intelligence chief said in an interview published Thursday.
The BM-25 missiles have a range of 1,550 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the Haaretz daily reported.
The report came as U.N. members consider slapping sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment. The United States, Israel and other Western countries say Iran is trying to get nuclear arms, but the Islamic regime says its atomic program is for civilian purposes only.
The U.N. Security Council has given Iran until Friday to stop enriching uranium, a necessary step for developing nuclear weapons. Should Iran refuse to comply, which it has indicated it will do, the Security Council is likely to consider taking punitive measures.
Israeli security officials confirmed the Haaretz report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
New missiles a significant upgrade
Military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, who spoke to Haaretz, has warned of the new Iranian missiles in several recent interviews to the media. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Israel, but the BM-25s are a significant upgrade over its existing top-of-the-line missiles — the Shihab-4 and Shihab-3.
Those missiles spurred Israel to develop its Arrow-2 anti-ballistic missile system, which is can intercept the Iranian missiles.
Israeli concerns have been heightened in recent months by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s calls to wipe Israel “off the map.”
Iran has also tested several long-range missiles in recent weeks, including a “top secret” missile capable of being fired from helicopters and jet fighters, Iranian state-run television reported.
Iran also tested the Fajr-3, a missile it said can avoid radar and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads. Iran also tested what it calls two new torpedoes.
U.S. intelligence officials have said that Iran is at an advanced stage of developing a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead. The United States has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of the details of the Iranian missile program.
On Tuesday, an Israeli satellite meant to spy on Iran’s nuclear program was launched by Russia. The satellite is designed to spot images on the ground as small as 27½ inches, an Israeli defense official said.