On June 4, the Swiss Mission in New York hosted a briefing for members of the U.N. Security Council and other select member states on EWI’s U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Iran’s nuclear and missile potential.

Ambassador Peter Maurer, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations and member of EWI’s Board of Directors, moderated the briefing. Other participants included Leonid Ryabikhin of the Committee of Scientists for Global Security and Arms Control who represented the Russian team, Ted Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who represented the American team, and Professor Gary Sick of Columbia University.

Key findings of the J.T.A. described in the briefing and discussed in the question-and-answer period were:

  • The time it would take for Iran to develop a roughly 2,000 km range ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead is determined by the time it takes Iran to build a nuclear warhead that is sufficiently light and compact to fly on a ballistic missile.
  • Unless Iran receives substantial external assistance, it would take Iran years to produce with indigenous technology missiles of substantially longer range without major new innovations in missile technology.
  • In the event that Iran builds such long-range missiles, with or without external assistance, these missiles would be very large and cumbersome and would have to be launched from well-known, specialized launch locations. Such missiles would be highly vulnerable to preemption.
  • If Iran takes the political decision to manufacture nuclear devices, it will have to remove IAEA control and monitoring—thus alerting the international community to its intentions. It would take Iran about six years to build nuclear weapons compact and light enough to be used on a ballistic missile. This conclusion assumes that Iran does not have clandestine enrichment capabilities.