General Kenneth McKenzie
General Kenneth McKenzie Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS

US Central Command's General Kenneth McKenzie warned on Tuesday that Iran’s ballistic missiles pose a great threat to the Middle East.

Speaking to US lawmakers, McKenzie said that Iran now has about 3,000 ballistic missiles, some of which are capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

"None of them can reach Europe yet, but over the last five to seven years … they have invested heavily in their ballistic missile program," he said, according to Voice of America.

"Their missiles have significantly greater range and significantly enhanced accuracy," added McKenzie, describing the advancement of Iran's missile program as "remarkable."

He further warned that Tehran has made major progress in developing increasingly capable long-range drones, and with its efforts to develop land-attack cruise missiles, designed to hit predetermined fixed or mobile ground-based targets.

The warning comes just days after dozens of Iranian ballistic missiles hit the northern Iraqi city of Erbil near the US consulate complex, destroying some residential structures.

Iran claimed the attack and said it was intended to target "secret Israeli bases" in Iraq. The Saudi channel Al-Hadath reported that the missiles were in retaliation for the killing of two officers from the Revolutionary Guards in an air strike in Syria last week which was attributed to Israel.

McKenzie on Tuesday declined to say what Iran was aiming for but told lawmakers, "We do not believe the attack of this last weekend, the ballistic missiles, was actually targeted against us."

At the same time, he warned that Iran continues to see Iraq as the primary battleground for its efforts to oust the US from the Middle East.

"That's we're the most distributed, the most vulnerable," McKenzie said, though he noted efforts by Iran and its various proxies to push the U.S. out using force have failed.

Iran’s ballistic missile tests and satellite launches are a cause of concern for the West and particularly the US which says that Iran’s ballistic missile tests are a violation of UN Security Council resolution 2231.

The resolution, which enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, says Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Iran denies its ballistic missiles violate this UN resolution.