Decades ago, as a young intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army’s Pershing Nuclear Missile Brigade (56th Artillery), I wondered whether, as British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin said in 1932, “the bomber will always get through.” I wondered whether indeed an attack by air or missile could be stopped.
I knew our Pershing 1 missile, and the subsequent P-2, had a very good CEP (circular area of probability). In other words, the bird was accurate. Traditional American technological prowess in such matters had even led U.S. presidential candidate and GOP nominee Barry Goldwater to comically quip in 1964 that we should “lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin.”
And perhaps in 1964 that would have been possible. Today, notwithstanding the various personal hygiene venues in the Kremlin, it is much more of a possibility—unless, ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) becomes standard defense policy, as it certainly will in any smart nation. In today’s environment that imperative is made quite clear by the recent actions and increased capabilities of Iran.
When the president wisely chose to look askance at the Iranian nuclear deal he not only served notice that their charade was up, but that the United States would no longer stand idly by and watch as the Iranians embarked full steam on a campaign to gain and deploy nuclear weapons delivered by ballistic missiles. We would not be the Brits and French in 1936 as the Wehrmacht blithely waltzed into the Rhineland. German generals later testifying that they had orders to withdraw in the face of the slightest allied response which, of course, did not come. When the Soviets built the Berlin Wall, it was later also said the Russians had orders to cease and desist at the look-see of one American tank turret. That American tank turret never appeared and America missed a chance to thwart aggression.
But that’s not America today. Not this time. Not this president.
Though, the Iranian response to Trump was interesting.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chief of their parliamentary committee on national security said recently that, “With America’s decision, Iran’s missile program will not change at all.” Given the Israeli intelligence heist proving that the covert Iranian nuclear program has been an ongoing effort, was he actually telling two subtle truths?
One, of course, it won’t change, as the program never stopped in the first place.
And two, he speaks specifically of missiles, which means delivery systems. It almost sounds as if he’s saying, “We already have the warheads ready to go. We just need a little more time to perfect the way to shove them down your throats.”
It is common sense that a warhead without a missile is a bullet without a gun. And the mullahs have been working on the gun.
Less than a year ago, Iran unveiled the Khorramshahr missile and tested it the very same day. It has a range of 1,250 miles, putting it within reach of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Straits of Hormuz, but also NATO members Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. It can carry multiple warheads much like the U.S. multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) missiles, the Chinese JL-2/3, and the Russian Sotka and Sineva missiles.
And the 1,250-mile range? Half the range of the original missile the North Koreans sold to the Iranians. The Iranians said they then decreased missile size. Uh huh. If the original range still holds—bet it does—then Paris, London, Munich, Rome, and Prague are all within range of a nuclear attack or an EMP burst.
After the test of the Khorramshahr, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “We will strengthen our missiles.” And that was last year. Within the last two weeks and the Iranian missile strike on northern Israel from their bases in Syria, we see at least in this regard the Iranian president is as good as his word.
Lest we think this is only a Middle Eastern threat, remember, we are the “Great Satan,” now even more devilish with the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the rejection of the John Kerry-negotiated (Kerry, the man who thought proper use of American diplomatic influence was serenading the French with “You’ve Got a Friend,” with James Taylor in tow) nuclear deal.
Unless the Green Revolution comes to pass, Israel attacks, or the CIA can pull another Mossadegh move, Iran will eventually threaten the United States with nuclear weapons. It already implicitly threatens U.S. allies and interests.
If we don’t deploy, and soon, GMD as part of a multi-layered strategic missile defense system, then the unstable theocrats who run Iran could, as the nationalistic or religious frenzy strikes them, attack this country with relative impunity. Israel has figured as much per their nation and has great success with both the Iron Dome and David’s Sling GMD systems.
Every day Iran rattles its scimitar more. It grows more provocative in Syria, in Yemen, and elsewhere. Do we really believe that it’s all a bluff?
If it is, GMD could make them think twice. For so much of statecraft is theatrics combined with analysis. If they’re not bluffing, or if we fail to deploy a strong strategic missile defense, then the scenario for ourselves and our allies may be tragic.
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