Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that neither Iran nor North Korea is capable of attacking the United States with a missile armed with a nuclear warhead.
North Korea has acknowledged it is working on such a capability and has threatened to use it. US missile defenses are positioned in the Pacific in anticipation of a possible North Korean missile launch in coming days.
Hagel was responding to a question at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday. He said that while he does not believe North Korea or Iran has a long-range missile that can hit the US with a weapon of mass destruction, he did not rule out that either country could eventually acquire such a capability.
“Now does that mean that won’t have it or they can’t have it or they’re not working on it?” Hagel said. “No. That’s why this is a very dangerous situation.”
At a separate hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Iran still posed a threat to the US.
Last month, Clapper said that political will, not technical expertise, is the only thing keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons.