Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Members of Congress Asks President to Fully Integrate Israel into U.S. Missile Defenses

Last week, nearly seventy members of Congress signed a letter that was sent to President Bush calling on him to deliver full missile defenses to Israel and deploy an X-Band ground-based warning radar fully integrated with the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense program to maximize Israel’s defense against an Iranian missile strike. The letter was spearheaded by Representatives Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Jane Harman (D-CA).

The letter cited the Iranian threat as the key justification behind the call for the Israel’s integration into the U.S. missile program. “Given the Iranian President’s threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map,’ we should put the full weight of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense system behind our democratic ally,” the letter said.

“Iranian President Ahmadinejad calls for Israel to be wiped off the map and talks of the Jewish people’s annihilation. America should send a message to the Iranian dictator – Israel will have the full weight of America’s missile defense system to defend herself,”Rep. Kirk said.

“Israel’s security is in constant jeopardy. As an important ally and shining democratic example in the Middle East, her protection is a top U.S. priority,” Rep. Harman said. “The threat from Iran is real – both to her security and to the stability of the region. Sharing our BMD capability with Israel is smart policy and an effective deterrent against an increasingly volatile neighbor.”

Hyping Iran’s ballistic missile threat is nothing new. Some may recall that the primary justification for the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “proliferator of weapons of mass destruction” in October 2007 actually had less to do with nuclear materials, and more to do with ballistic missiles. Iran’s ballistic missile program remains largely in its nascent stages, however. The US intelligence community has consistently estimated since 1999 that Iran will not have mastered the science of intercontinental ballistic missiles until 2015. At that point, Iran would still have to manufacture an arsenal of missiles and weapons to fit the missiles, putting the actual deployment date even further into the future. Also, though the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and the Missile Technology Control Regime are voluntary mechanisms intended to discourage states from proliferating missile technology, there is no binding international treaty that prohibits Iran from developing its ballistic missile capability.

Since Iran lacks the ability to reach the U.S., members of Congress and the Bush administration have tried to focus attention on the “threat” of Iran’s shorter-range ballistic missiles that are capable of striking Israel and Turkey, as well as American troops based in the Persian Gulf as a means to justify heavier U.S. military presence and sell the deployment of missile defenses in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

The full letter is below. A full list of signatures can be obtained by contacting Eric Elk (Kirk) at 847-940-0202 or Max Weihe (Harman) at 202-225-8220.

May 5, 2008
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

On January 28, 2008, you signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 into law. This legislation included a mandated report by the Secretary of Defense on future coordination, interoperability, and integration of Israel into the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense program.As you know, the Iranian ballistic missile program is expanding. In November, the Iranians tested a new Ashura long-range ballistic missile – an upgrade to the Shahab-3 capable of hitting Israel and Europe.

Given the Iranian President’s threat to “wipe Israel off the map,” we should put the full weight of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system behind our democratic ally. We urge you to work with the Government of Israel to install an upgraded U.S. BMD ground-based early warning radar site in Israel that is fully integrated with the U.S. BMD architecture.

In 2001, the United States granted Israel access to the U.S. Defense Support Program (DSP), the principal component of our Satellite Early Warning System. This watershed cooperative program established the precedent for U.S.-Israel cooperation on early warning.DSP, however, only solves one challenge: missile launch detection. It does not contribute significantly to target discrimination and intercept capability. To reduce the Iranian threat, we should deploy a U.S. BMD-linked X-Band ground-based warning radar to Israel to maximize her defenses.

A U.S. BMD early-warning radar site in Israel would improve target discrimination, imaging, modeling, and battle management. An X-Band radar linked to the U.S. BMD system would work in concert with the DSP support we already provide Israel to fully target any incoming threat and increase the likelihood of successful intercepts.

Thank you for your continued support of a strong U.S.-Israel defense relationship.



Mark Pyruz said...

So Israel gets a nuclear first strike capability, as well as an effective ABM shield to withstand any retaliatory strike? This for a nation that has initiated five wars in the region?

Carah Ong said...

I wouldn't call the U.S. missile defense system "effective" (that's a whole other posting). But yes, Israel gets to have a sword and a shield, even if the shield doesn't work and costs a lot of U.S. taxpayer money.