Wanted: Better American Missile Defense; Enemies' Weapons List Requires Greater U.S. Vigilance

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Wanted: Better American Missile Defense; Enemies' Weapons List Requires Greater U.S. Vigilance


Byline: Peter Huessy, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The security of the United States, its NATO allies and its friends in the Middle East - especially Israel - remains significantly dependent on America's ability to provide a robust defense for its own territory and that of its allies. In the post-Cold War era, this may seem an anachronism, but recent events highlight the need for America's military strength.

Russian military supplies for Syria may be convoyed by Russian navy vessels. Not only small-scale weapons, but high-tech helicopters and eventually MiG airplanes appear to be on Damascus' shopping list. In addition, Moscow has furnished more than $5 billion in critical military equipment to Iran over the past few years.

Rebecca Heinrich of the Heritage Foundation has noted Russia's use of explicit nuclear threats 15 times over the past few years, a phenomenon outlined in congressional testimony by Mark Schneider of the National Institute of Public Policy. In an unpublished paper, another Russia expert within the U.S. government has explored stated Russian strategic and nuclear doctrine. The investigation uncovered explicit Russian consideration of using nuclear weapons early in a crisis as a de-escalatory move, whether dealing with Chinese conventional threats to Russia's east, terrorist threats from the Caucasus in the south, or high-tech NATO threats from the west.

Particularly worrisome is the continued Russian avoidance of sanctions against Iran. This includes loopholes in United Nations resolutions and waivers granted by the U.S. administration from congressionally passed sanctions. While perhaps not intended, this action has given Moscow a green light to arm both Iran and its key ally, Syria. Notably, included in those arms has been ballistic missile technology, though Russia claims only rogue business elements have been furnishing such technology to Iran.

A new U.S. government report, required annually by Congress, says Iran has dramatically improved its offensive missile capability with respect to range, destructive power and day-to-day alert status. While many analysts see little threat from Iran to the continental United States, they assume Tehran's reach is solely a function of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, which the mullahs have not yet deployed.

Buried in the new report to Congress is a repetition of the findings of an earlier assessment acknowledging that Iran very well may acquire such a long-range missile capability as early as 2015. …

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