WASHINGTON - A Pentagon report states that China, Iran and North Korea are aggressively developing nuclear missiles capable of striking the United States and proliferation among these nations of technology is rife, the British newspaper Daily Mail reported Friday.
The Department of Defense report, the findings of which were first published by the Washington Times, confirms the assessment of US intelligence agencies that Iran is set to test an intercontinental ballistic missile as early as 2015.
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"Iran has ambitious ballistic missile and space launch development programs and continues to attempt to increase the range, lethality, and accuracy of its ballistic missile force," states the assessment produced by the Department of Defense's National Air and Space Intelligence Center.
Iranian Sajil missile (Archive photo: EPA)
The report also determines that the number of Chinese land-based nuclear missiles able to hit the US "could expand to well over 100 within the next 15 years" and that North Korea has already deployed its new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, known as the Hwasong-13.
North Korea's Musudan missile (Archive photo: AFP)
"North Korea has an ambitious ballistic missile development program and has exported missiles and missile technology to other countries, including Iran and Pakistan," says the assessment, which was released this week.
Rep. Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican and a member of the House Committee for Armed Services, said in response to the report "For too long the Obama administration has allowed our missile defense program to languish when they should have been working to prepare for these imminent threats."
In March, China announced it was to increase military spending by 11.2% this year in response to US President Barack Obama's Asian 'pivot.'
China announced a 10.7% increase in military spending to $114 billion in March, the Pentagon report said. Publicly announced defense spending for 2012 was $106 billion, but actual pending for 2012 could range between $135 billion and $215 billion, it said.
According to the Daily Mail, US defense spending is more than double that, at more than $500 billion. Asian neighbors, however, have been nervous about Beijing's expanding military, and this double-digit rise could reinforce disquiet in Japan, India, Southeast Asia and self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.
Obama has sought to reassure Asian allies that the United States will stay a key player in the area, and the Pentagon has said it will "rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region."
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