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Iran may develop ICBM to target US by 2015: Pentagon

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Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) of US. A file photo

WASHINGTON (PTI): Iran may develop intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking US by 2015, but could need "foreign assistance" to improve its delivery technology.

US officials also warned that it could take beyond a year for Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon.

The assessment of the Iranian nuclear and missile programme was given by James Miller deputy under secretary of defence policy in a senate hearing Tuesday.

Miller cautioned impatient lawmakers that a limited US military strike may not likely be "decisive" in halting Iran's nuclear programme.

Miller told lawmakers that estimates indicate that Iran could build an ICBM capable of hitting targets in US by 2015-18 and that the country could convert its Safir space launch vehicle, which Tehran claimed to have put into orbit in 2009, into a long range missile.

At the hearing Miller said the top priority for the US missile defence is to defend itself from the threats posed by Iran and North Korea.

The Pentagon also made it clear that US missile defence programme was not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia and China.

"The US will continue to defend the homeland against the threat of limited ballistic missile attacks. The top priority for US missile defence efforts is to defend the US from the threat of missile attack by regional actors such as North Korea or Iran.

"The US does not intend for our missile defences to affect the strategic balance with Russia or China," Miller said.

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