On February 2, 2009, Iran successfully launched a satellite into orbit using a rocket with technology similar to that used in a long-range ballistic missile. It also test-fired a 1200-mile solid-fueled ballistic missile in May. Today, July 15th, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, BND, announced that Iran will be able to produce and test a nuclear weapon within six months. BND also stated that it has “no doubt” that Iran’s missile program is aimed solely at the production of nuclear warheads. While many of us may have put the Iranian missile and nuclear threat on the back burner and moved such issues as North Korea and arms control negotiations with Russia to the fore, Iran still poses a serious threat to the United States. If Iran develops a nuclear weapon and has the long-range ballistic missiles to carry such a weapon, the United States and Europe need to be prepared.
As the Senate continues its discussion of the Defense Authorization for the fiscal year 2010, it must remember to fund missile defense. President Obama has cut many missile defense programs, including the Airborne Laser, Kinetic Energy Interceptor, and interceptors in Alaska. Another program that may be cut is the European missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Although President Obama has talked about abandoning the missile defense option in Europe, it would provide much-needed security to a region that is currently unprotected. It would also, very importantly, provide another layer of defense for the United States homeland. Iran has the capability to strike at Israel and South-Eastern Europe including NATO members such as Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania. The United States Senate must push to restore funding for the European missile shield to protect not only our allies in Europe but also United States citizens here at home.