Iran had its first successful test of the Shahab-3 ballistic missile on July 15. The first test missile in July 1998 exploded shortly after launch. The missile is based on the North Korean NoDong-1, with a range of 1200-1300 kilometers with a one-ton payload. Some cite Iran as a ballistic missile threat justifying deployment of an American national missile defense system. However, Iran remains primarily a regional concern.

If deployed, the Shahab-3 would bring most of Israel within range. Robbie Sabel, the deputy director general of the Department of Arms Control at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote in Repairing the Regime, "It certainly causes concern when the Shahab-3 missile was paraded in Tehran on September 25, 1998, with the inscription on the missile carrier that 'Israel should be wiped off the map.' Extremist slogans by themselves may be dismissed as harmless verbal fireworks, but when they are combined with extensive development of missiles and weapons of mass destruction, it is time to pay attention."

However, following the recent test launch, Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron told Israel Radio, "We are looking at this matter for the moment with some concern, because in any event they have the ability. We don't believe they have any intention whatsoever to attack the state of Israel for the moment." Yaron believes the missile was not developed against Israel, but rather as a result of Iran's war against Iraq.

Israeli expert Reuven Pedatzur said, "The range of 1,300 kilometers was not established because that was the distance between Iran and Israel, but rather because that was the range that the present technology can reach." According to Pedatzur, "The goal of Israeli policies must now be to prevent the launching of nuclear missiles rather to attempt to reduce their number or to intercept some of them."