Given the advanced state of the Iranian nuclear program, it seems that there are few feasible options for preventing Iran from acquiring a weapon. No deal would prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state, but it’s still possible to slow progress and shrink the breakout window. Given the circumstances, the best option going forward would be to negotiate a long term, invasive inspection regime into all current and future nuclear facilities. This would provide the U.S. and its allies with critical insight into Iran’s program and allow advanced warning of breakout potential. Further, the United States should ensure that robust ballistic missile defense programs are in place to counter the threat of Iranian missiles, which are unlikely to be part of a new comprehensive agreement. Sanctions must also be fully leveraged to gain concessions from the Iranian government.
As the world has seen in the past few weeks, Israel has been under attack again by the terrorist group Hamas with a deluge of rockets, mortars, and missiles from the Gaza Strip. Fortunately for Israel, it is armed with its short-range anti-rocket system known as Iron Dome. Iron Dome, which was deployed in 2011, is designed to intercept very short-range rocket threats between two and forty-five miles. Iron Dome’s selective targeting system and radars detect and destroy incoming projectiles that threaten population centers by utilizing Tamir interceptors. In addition to the Iron Dome, Israel currently has an X-Band radar system and is developing a short/medium-range system called David’s Sling, the Arrow Anti-Missile System, and a higher-altitude missile defense system. All of these projects are progressing with the technological assistance and funding of the United States.
This Sunday the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) along with U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Navy conducted its first successful test of the Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system since 2008. The test is a major milestone in proving that the GMD is a viable option for the protection of the U.S. homeland from a limited ballistic missiles attack. Yet despite the success of the test, stubborn critics of the system refuse to acknowledge the advances made and the nature of the threat. The national missile defense system is a complicated engineering feat that demands regular testing. While intercept failures may be discouraging, it is important to note that the data collected presents an opportunity to correct the issues that caused those failures. While some would call the threat of a ballistic missile attack by North Korea “exaggerated”, there is currently no reliable way to measure just how advanced that threat is. Failing to plan for the worst could prove disastrous.
In what was promised to be a major address clarifying his administrations foreign policy, President Obama delivered the commencement address at West Point this past Wednesday. The speech has not been well received. In April, the President described his foreign policy by saying “You hit singles; you hit doubles. Every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run. But we steadily advance the interests of the American people.” Unfortunately, the speech the President delivered was more of a foul than a home run, and has done little to advance the understanding of his foreign policy.
The FY15 National Defense Authorization Bill requires Aegis Ashore in Poland to be operationally available by the end of 2016 instead of 2018, supporting the notion that missile defense will effectively compel Russia on geo-political issues. This belief is based on public statements Russia has made opposing U.S. missile defense, arguing it would upset strategic parity by reducing the effectiveness of their intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet. The reality behind Russia’s opposition is that they view the U.S. as a foil to justify their investment in the Russian defense industry, which President Putin believes is key to ensuring Russia’s ability exert influence, strengthen the economy and mitigate the emigration of technological expertise. This vision is independent of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), and the U.S. should not use precious taxpayer dollars to accelerate a program over a fallible pretense. (more…)