New reports reveal that Iran is moving full speed ahead with its nuclear program. It has doubled its production capacity for enriched uranium in its underground facility. The Parchin military facility has been sanitized, making inspections futile.
Other parallel developments should raise serious concerns for America and our allies, including China expanding its missile production beyond previous western estimates. In addition, assessments that Iran possesses only left over Soviet Scud rocket motors have been thoroughly debunked, and new cooperative missile and nuclear technology agreements between North Korea, Iran, and China have come to light.
Perhaps worse yet, Russia, Iran and Venezuela continue to discuss basing missiles in Chavez-land right here in our own hemisphere.
U.S. combat commanders, mindful of these developments, have repeatedly noted the need for more inventories of U.S. missile defense elements.
Congress should heed that call even as naysayers recycle misperceptions and half-truths about missile defense.
Twenty years ago, after the end of the Cold War and during the Capitol Hill debates about the future of missile defense, critics often argued that other defense technologies should be prioritized ahead of missile defense, and military commanders’ assessments of such needs were often cited to justify cuts to missile defense programs.
Also problematic is sloppy reporting today that implies that the $9 billion spent on missile defense and its related components by the U.S. military services and the Missile Defense Agency are somehow very “Cold War-like” and thus not necessary.
It is no surprise then that the 30 long-range interceptors in Alaska and California and the prospects of a European-based capability to shoot down long-range Iranian missiles are too often labeled “unnecessary,” “provocative” and “too costly.”
Sadly, until a nuclear bomb goes off in or above an American city, the professional “business as usual” enthusiasts will advocate the status quo.
But as both Israel’s former Minister of Defense Uzi Rubin and Robert Walpole, an expert analyst at the CIA, have noted, Iran and North Korea are in the ICBM business and just a “third stage working” away from an ICBM capability.
Russian’s serial condemnation of U.S. missile defense deployments ring hollow in that the missile threats we face are not governed solely by Moscow and, in fact, are sustained and assisted, in part, by Russian cooperation and trade. Thus, our combat commanders are asking for greater production of our missile defenses.
My own assessment is that an additional $1 billion a year in support could significantly bolster world-wide missile defense deployments and provide the U.S. better protection of the homeland.
Of particular need are more Standard Missiles – such as SM-3 1Bs being tested now – that will be deployed on our Navy Aegis ships at home and abroad. We must also focus resources on upgrading the current defense of the continental United States by both modernizing our 30 interceptors in Alaska and California and expanding the use of SM-3s and other defenses in the protection of the East Coast and southern Gulf region of the United States. The number of THAAD batteries in use should be expanded, as well.
Additional deployments of the Israeli Iron Dome system, including by such allies as the Republic of Korea, are also needed to better protect the U.S. and its allies. Some 16 nations have expressed interest in purchasing this system which would further enhance U.S. security.
If we remain wedded to the “business as usual” mantra on Iran and a host of our geo-strategic puzzles, we should at least pay attention to Richard Miniter’s prescient warning that “in the real world, leaders cannot afford to experiment with dreams.”
In the absence then of a willingness to eliminate the mullah’s nuclear and terrorist threats, it behooves us as Americans to, at the very minimum, honestly reflect on these gathering threats and abide by that constitutional requirement to “provide for the common defense.” An expansion of our missile defense assets fits that challenge.
Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis of Potomac, Maryland.