Israel is speeding up its development of the Arrow 3 long-range missile interception system, a military official who heads the project said Monday at a lecture in Tel Aviv.

The Arrow 3 would be able to target incoming nuclear or conventional missiles at a higher altitude than its shorter-ranged predecessor, the Arrow 2, Col. Aviram Hasson said at the Institute for National Security Studies conference entitled “Aerial Threats in the Modern Age.”

“We’re thinking mostly about the nuclear threat,” he said. The Arrow 3’s high-altitude capability makes it an ideal counter to nuclear missiles and to minimize the threat of fallout.

Hasson described Israel’s four-layered missile defense strategy: Iron Dome, protecting against smaller, short-range threats (up to 70 kilometers); David’s Sling, covering mid-range threats (70-200 kilometers); Arrow 2, for long-range attacks; and Arrow 3, for up to 2,500 kilometers away.

Israel in November conducted its first successful interception of a target missile by the new David’s Sling missile defense system, which is expected to come online in 2014.

Current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said two years ago at the Herzliya Conference that Iran was developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 10,000 kilometers — capable of striking the United States.

Iran contends that its unsanctioned nuclear program is for peaceful, not military, purposes.

“We want to reach a situation in which Israel has a ready defense for any threat, present or future,” said Hasson.

With reporting by Mitch Ginsburg