There's little need to fret, however. "It's not as if they have the ability to reach Israel or U.S. troops with any degree of accuracy," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. Indeed, Tel Aviv's early reaction was muted; Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai said the test did not pose an immediate threat to Israel. And while cash-starved North Korea has long signalled its intent to dish out Rodongs to anyone who can pay the $10 million-per-missile bill, best estimates say they only have a dozen in stock. "It's basically a terror weapon," says Thompson, "because they have so few of them." Iran's neighbors need not worry about building bomb shelters just yet.
Is Iran just posturing, or is this a sign of something more serious? That's the question Washington is asking Thursday after the White House confirmed that Iran has successfully test-fired a missile called Shahab-3, which has a range of 800 miles. That's enough to hit Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and just about all U.S. forces in the region. According to some intelligence sources, this is simply an attempt to grab attention by importing a Rodong missile from North Korea and renaming it. More pessimistic observers worry that Shahab-3 is a first step toward building more threatening weaponry. Either way, Tehran's action is likely to put a damper on the recent mild detente in relations with the Great Satan.