Dan Gilmore / May 7, 2015

Obama’s Bold New Idea: How About a Missile Defense System?

A few weeks ago, Barack Obama was announcing the rough draft of a nuclear agreement with Iran. It was supposed to prevent, or at least give the West and its Middle Eastern allies warning of, a nuclear breakout from Iran. In the coming week, it appears that Obama’s helping countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council run for the bunkers. CNN reports that the Obama administration will bring up the idea of creating a ballistic missile defense system that would protect the countries from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia to Oman — just in case Iran ever develops a nuclear warhead or two.

The Obama administration’s policy has been to generally discourage the development of missile defense systems. In 2001, the then-State Senator Obama said, “I don’t agree with a missile defense system.” In 2009, his administration traded a missile defense system that protected Poland and the Czech Republic against an Iranian missile attack for an assurance by Russia that it would discourage Iran’s nuclear program. (“Reset!”) It was around this time that former Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen announced Iran had enriched enough uranium to fabricate a nuclear warhead. But in April, Russia approved an $800 million sale of its S-300 missiles to Iran, undercutting the West’s ability to knock out the Islamic Republic’s nuclear production facilities in the event it did achieve breakout.

If Obama were serious, he would bolster missile defense in the U.S. and Europe. In February, Iran successfully launched a missile that put a satellite into orbit, which prompted Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) to say, “While rogue states like Iran develop sophisticated ballistic missile systems and space satellite programs, President Obama continues to turn his back on any type of long-term strategy for our military and national defense.”

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