The Iran deal struck by the Obama administration has exposed just how close we are to an ICBM-enabled Iran – and how badly we need a robust missile defense capability as a result.
On Wednesday, July 29, US Secretary of State John Kerry testified that the head of Iran’s terrorist Al-Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top military commander and spymaster, would never be free from his travel ban under UN sanctions under the deal Kerry had brokered with Iran.
Of course, Soleimani was already in violation of the UN sanctions’ travel ban in Iraq where he has been training Iraqi Shi’ite militias to fight Islamic State (IS). He is believed to have helped those militias kill more than 500 US soldiers, and has been leading the effort to defend Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Then on Friday, August 7, 2015, Iranian media confirmed that Soleimani was in Russia meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate weapons deals – again, in violation of the UN travel ban.
What was Soleimani talking to Putin about? First, of course, Soleimani and the Russians may have been discussing increased sales of the Scud series (known as Shabaabs in the Iranian arsenal) of surface-to-surface missiles that range up to over 400 km and are a staple of Russian manufacture and Iranian consumption.
Second, it has been long rumored that the Russians would sell Iran the S-300 air defense system. The deal, initiated in 2010, has been long delayed, discouraged by the UN. Perhaps Soleimani’s visit was only symbolic, or perhaps it means the S-300 deal is at last ready to move forward, enabled by a permissive US administration and a compliant UN. When Iran obtains the ability to shoot down aircraft where the US Air Force once dominated the sky, a major component of our strategic deterrent will be weakened. Most critically, the S-300 system would make it more difficult for the US or its allies to take out an Iranian nuclear capability before the mullahs deployed it in anger.
The third and most concerning possibility is that the two could have been discussing the acceleration of Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability.
And maybe Soleimani and Putin discussed all three.
This has everything to do with the state of US missile defense programs as a key element to defense against and deterrence of an Iran that can threaten the region and the West.
Keep in mind that Putin persuaded President Barack Obama to alter America’s European-based missile defense program to assuage Russian concerns that it would offset the Russian’s nuclear deterrent. US officials told their Russian counterparts that Iranian and not Russian missiles were the focus of US missile defense efforts.
A part of this change, called the European Phased Adaptive Approach, set back US capability to defend against Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by 10 years. To which a defender of the Iran deal might reply, “No problem, the deal doesn’t allow Iran to have ICBMs for another 10 years.”
But on July 23, just six days before Kerry’s testimony about Soleimani, former CIA director James Woolsey testified in a Senate Homeland Security committee hearing about the threat of an Iranian nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack, including the so-called “Scud in a Tub” scenario. Such an attack scenario would be attractive to the Iranian regime, Woolsey believes, because it would be non-attributable and less likely to provoke a US counterattack…