by Bill Gertz
U.S. intelligence agencies recently detected Iran conducting a static ground test of a large rocket motor that could be used for a future intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), according to U.S. officials.
Disclosure of the recent rocket engine test comes as Congress is prodding the Obama administration to deploy a third ground-based missile defense interceptor base on the U.S. East Coast.
“This engine could be used for an ICBM,” said one official familiar with the intelligence reports of the test.
No other details were available. A Defense Intelligence Agency spokesman declined to comment on the test.
However, the Pentagon and civilian U.S. intelligence agencies have been closely tracking the Iranian missile program and are concerned with Tehran’s drive for a missile capable of reaching the United States.
The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on the Iranian military said the Iranians are continuing to build missiles that can reach Israel and Eastern Europe.