Iran’s ability to strike Europe prompts White House to update missile defenses
Iran’s ability to launch several hundred missiles into Europe prompted the White House to begin overhauling the U.S. missile defense program. In a U.S. intelligence briefing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates informed cabinet and congressional members that Iran was getting very close to procuring 100s of missiles capable of striking most European nations.
The United States will begin work on the “phased adaptive approach” or the intergraded sea and land-based missile installations placed around the European allies.
At a congressional meeting on Thursday Gates suggested new intelligence is behind the new push for a more targeted approach for defense missiles.
“One of the elements of the intelligence that contributed to the decision on the phased adaptive array (approach) was the realization that if Iran were actually to launch a missile attack on Europe, it wouldn’t be just one or two missiles, or a handful,” he said. “It would more likely be a salvo kind of attack, where you would be dealing potentially with scores or even hundreds of missiles.”
Secretary Gates said the updated missile interceptors the defense department was developing would give the U.S. the ability to protect American interests abroad as well as our closest allies.
However, Gates pointed out that the new missile interceptors would not be in place until 2020.
“I think by 2020 we may well see it from other states, especially if we’re unsuccessful in stopping Iran from building nuclear weapons,” he explained.
Gates attempted to placate Russia who will always hate the U.S. missile defenses because they cannot match America’s missile defense technology.
“There is no meeting of the minds on missile defense,” Gates told the panel. “The Russians hate it. They’ve hated it since the late 1960s. They will always hate it, mostly because we’ll build it and they won’t.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State said the Russian’s statement noted the Russian government’s right to withdraw from the New START treaty if it feels threatened by the expansion of American defenses against ballistic missiles Iran is building.
“But that is not an agreed upon view. That is not in the treaty,” Clinton told the Armed Services Committee.
In the meantime the U.S. will keep 720 deployed weapons: 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (distributed among 14 submarines); 60 heavy bombers, and up to 420 single-warhead Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at their current three U.S. bases, Gates explained.
Newly-minted Senator Scott Brown (R-MASS) expressed his concern that Russia and France’s conflicting interests with Iran and said the fact they are maintaining commercial relationships, perhaps, helping Iran circumvent international sanctions regarding their nuclear program.
“Russian leadership have all made this statement that this treaty is contingent on the United States not changing, or qualitatively or quantitatively building up, missile defense systems,” Gates said. “That is bound to be worrisome to anyone. The Russians can say what they want. If it’s not in the treaty, it’s not binding on the United States.”
In the meantime the Obama administration will continue their pacifist foreign policy programs, cross their fingers and hope it works.