• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Iran Missile Defense Shield Good First Step

    A picture shows the test-firing of a new medium-range surface to surface missile, named Sejil-2, at an undisclosed location in Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had successfully test-fired the new missile, drawing a warning from Israel that Europe too should now worry about the Islamic republic's ballistic programme.

    The Obama Administration is finally doing something that is likely to lessen the threat posed by an aggressive Iran. It is following the lead of the George W. Bush Administration and looking to expand missile defense capabilities in the Persian Gulf.

    This step has many advantages for the United States and its allies in the region. Reflective of a “protect and defend” strategy, it offers a defensive solution that highlights the aggressive intent of Iran. The alternative is to give the Iranians a first strike option. It also does not require the global consensus that has been holding up the imposition of effective sanctions against Iran. This is not to say that this step should substitute for the diplomatic effort to impose sanctions on Iran, only augment it. Third, it provides direct reassurance to U.S. friends and allies in the region and strengthens security ties there. Fourth, it will lessen the pressure on friends that do not have nuclear weapons to seek them in the future, and also will lessen the likelihood that allies who may have nuclear weapons will be put in a circumstance where they would be compelled to use them.

    This last point is critical. Last fall, The Heritage Foundation ran a series of exercises based on an abstract of Middle East regional setting, where all the nation-equivalent players were presumed to have nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. The exercises demonstrated that pursuing a defensive option resulted in fewer nuclear weapons. On the other hand, a nuclear conflict broke out when the player equivalent to the United States simultaneously relied on nuclear retaliatory options, pursued a policy of nuclear disarmament, and chose not to pursue defensive options.

    The Obama Administration, however, needs to close the circle on this productive step. The plan is to place the Patriot missile defense batteries in four Persian Gulf states and Standard Missile-3 missile defense interceptors on Navy ships in the Gulf. These steps will permit a defense against shorter-range missiles. The problem is that these current systems will not provide a defense to the United States or its friends against the longer-range missiles that Iran is seeking. This will permit Iran to focus on threatening the United States directly in order to drive a wedge between the United States and its friends and force the United States out of the region. It is an obvious window of vulnerability that the Obama Administration must close.

    The Obama Administration can close this window of vulnerability by taking three steps. The first is to upgrade the sea-based missile defense system to make it capable of countering longer-range missiles. This sea-based system could also be used to protect the United States against an Iranian launch of a short-range missile off the coast that carries and electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) nuclear warhead. Such an upgrade program should be put on the fast track. The second step is to restore the larger number of Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors that are designed to counter long-range missiles that were proposed by President Bush. The Bush Administration proposed placing 44 such interceptors in Alaska and California and ten in Poland. President Obama, last year, made the unwise decision to scale back the number to be place in Alaska and California to 30 and cancelled the agreement with Poland. The most powerful step the Obama Administration could take to close this window of vulnerability is to announce that it will revive a proposal of the Reagan Administration and the George H.W. Bush Administration to put missile defense interceptors in space. This is a missile defense program that will serve to put the Iranians on the defensive.

    Watch Heritage’s documentary on the necessity for missile defense: 33 Minutes.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Iran Missile Defense Shield Good First Step

    1. HypocritsStink says:

      Agressive Iran? Are you joking? Was it Iran that went half way aournd the world to attack, invade and kill millions of a counry that never did anything to it? What a pathetic joke!

    2. Pingback: The Neocons are getting excited for the Iran War

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×