US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that if Iran managed to produce a nuclear weapon it would "spark an arms race" in the Middle East.
Iran test-fired a new missile Wednesday it claimed had a range capable of reaching Israel and US bases in the Middle East. A US government official confirmed there was an Iranian launch and said Washington was working to determine details such as the missile's range and trajectory.
Speaking at a Senate hearing, Clinton did not refer directly to the launching of the Sajjil-2 missile but rather a range of threats posed by Iran. She stressed that President Barack Obama's administration was thoroughly opposed to Iran's production of a nuclear weapon and that Washington was relying on diplomatic efforts to prevent it.
The secretary of state added that Washington was still unclear on the time frame in which the Islamic Republic would succeed in developing the weapon, and that some experts were currently of the opinion that the US had more time than had been previously thought.
Clinton described Iranian nuclear capability as an "extraordinary threat", and said the US was aiming "to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program".
Analysts said Iran's missile launch was likely intended for domestic consumption ahead of the June 12 elections, rather than a message to the US, which has criticized Iran's past missile launches as stoking instability in the Middle East.