JERUSALEM, Israel - Western nations are not taking seriously enough Iran's development of a missile system that could deliver nuclear weapons and reach most of Europe, an Israeli expert on Iranian missile systems said.
Iran's missiles are more advanced than they are perceived to be in the West, Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel's Missile Defense Organization told CBN News in a recent interview. There's a "certain degree of complacency" in the West," he said.
The U.S. and Israel believe that Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover-up to build a nuclear bomb - a charge Tehran denies. Iran is also developing long-range ballistic missiles, which could be used to deliver such bombs.
The Iranians "turned the corner" last year with the space and missile programs and now possess technology that the major world powers possessed in the 1960s, Rubin said.
They are able to develop Intermediate-range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM) capable of reaching most European capitals. All they have to do is decide to spend the money on it and do it - a "temptation" they'll not likely resist, he said.
Rubin, who oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile defense system, called Iran's launch of its first satellite in February 2009 a "formidable achievement." But Western policy makers did not "fully absorb" the implications of such a launch because it is "more convenient " for them not to absorb the implications, he said.
Rockets used to launch satellites could also be used as long-range missiles to deliver bombs.
Rubin charged that "liberal scientists" in Washington were downplaying the Iranian threat because they reason that international nuclear inspectors in Iran would sound the alarm if the country is making a bomb.
Those are the "famous last words." There were inspectors in North Korea and when the time came North Korea kicked them out and now they have nuclear weapons," he said.
The United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency has so far said that there is no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb.
But The Associated Press reported on Thursday it had seen a secret report indicating IAEA experts believe that Iran "has sufficient information" to design and produce a bomb and is developing a missile system that can deliver it.
It is as close as senior officials of the IAEA have come to sharing the U.S. assessment that Iran is indeed pursing the development of a nuclear bomb. This could be the "secret annex" that Washington has charged that the head of the IAEA is withholding.
In response to the report the IAEA said it has "no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon program in Iran."
But Rubin said there is a "new political mood" in Washington and it is affecting their judgment. Some of President Barack Obama's "entourage" are "trivializing" the Iranian threat.
If this mood prevails, Washington could help Israel "with less enthusiasm," which could affect Israel's defense policy, Rubin said.
"It is scary," Rubin said. "I'm scared. You can quote me on that."