As the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has to certify every 90 days to Congress that Iran is in compliance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) (Link) aka “Iran Nuclear Deal” which does not allow the weaponization of nuclear material by Iran. This past Friday, the President, with the intelligence from all of his agencies, does not believe Iran is in compliance and therefore decertified the “Iran Nuclear Deal,” (Link) enabling the United States Congress to consider further sanctions (Link). President Trump is citing a provision in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) (Link) that states that the President must certify that the “suspension of sanctions against Iran is appropriate and proportionate to measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program and vital to U.S. national security interests.” Evidence that Iran could build a nuclear bomb in less than one year, and its continued ballistic missile testing though not in the deal but in the intent of the deal, which it has conducted eleven ballistic missile tests (Link) (Three of them were long-range and one was a space-launched vehicle [Link]), since the Iran deal was enacted, further shows this deal is not in U.S. national security interests.
Iran’s response will either conform with the compliance to demonstrate that it will not be a nuclear threat to the United States national security interests or Iran will continue down its intent and efforts in non-compliance of the JCPOA and most likely accelerate them if they believe that the United States will seek to withdraw from the JCPOA.
With North Korea setting a precedent in nuclear proliferation and ballistic missile development against the United States, its national security interests, and the international community and with an existing close working relationship with Iran (Link) on ballistic missile development, Iran would likely look to follow the same North Korean rouge nuclear ballistic missile development path or similar variations of it.
Regardless of the JCPOA, Europe, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations of the Middle East, Israel, and U.S. forces forward deployed in the Middle East recognize the reality of a nuclear Iranian ballistic missile force and have put forward operational and deployed ballistic missile defenses in great capacity, expense, and capability to track and intercept Iranian ballistic missile threats to their territory and region. In Europe alone, the United States has paid over $6 billion to put in, operate, and man two Aegis Ashore (Link) sites in Poland and Romania, four Aegis BMD Destroyers in Rota, Spain, a forward based TPY-2 radar in Turkey, and a command and control center in Germany to defend Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles. Operationally deployed missile defenses in the Middle East by the GCC and the United States far exceed the capacity, capability, cost, and manning of those in Europe. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have acquired the most missile defense capability and are deployed in combat today against Iranian ballistic missiles, via the Houthis group operating in Yemen, and have intercepted over 150 of the missiles (Link). Israel has co-developed and produced one of the world’s best and invested integrated air and missile defense systems in both capacity and capability to defend its national territory, designed and required to defend from Iranian nuclear ballistic missiles.
Certification binding JCPOA or decertification of the JCPOA, the United States national security interests for the homeland particularly – the East Coast – must be secure and defended against long-range nuclear ballistic missiles from Iran. The United States does not have the luxury of time in being able to deploy and operationalize these type of defenses, like the country has in Alaska and California, in a year’s notice that Iran has to withdraw from the agreement to build a nuclear capability. The eastern United States today, is not appropriately defended against an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) nuclear threat. Forward basing of Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs) in silos in the eastern part of the country has to be addressed, acquired, developed, and deployed. An additional Long-Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) is needed, currently the U.S. only has one LRDR planned for Clear, Alaska for the North Korean threat, that should be based in the Eastern United States, Greenland/Iceland, or floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The Missile Defense Agency has narrowed the GBI east coast site down to three locations – in Ohio, Michigan, and New York – which now must be narrowed down to one. Consideration of a transportable GBI that can offer more flexibility for effectiveness and efficiency should be brought forward and debated.
We as a nation must be ahead of the Iranian impeding nuclear ballistic missile threat regardless of certification and compliance by Iran of the JCPOA. Every other nation in the world threatened by Iran has missile defense capabilities deployed and operational today.