As the debate over the size and scope of our nation’s anti-ballistic missile defense system continues, one thing remains constant: Iran continues to engage in a provocative game of military brinksmanship.
Days ago, the Iranian Defense Ministry proclaimed that their nation had “successfully” launch tested an upgraded version of its Fateh A-110 missile. According to Iranian officials, this new version of the Fateh A-110 was capable of striking land targets up to 300 kilometers away, placing it within ever closer striking distance of forward-deployed U.S. troops and our allies in the Middle East.
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi stated, “The armed forces will be able to hit and destroy land and naval targets, the gathering points of enemy (forces), command posts, missile sites, munitions depots, radar systems, and other targets with pinpoint precision using fourth-generation Fateh 110 missiles.”
The veracity of Iranian claims notwithstanding, the latest provocations by Iran should be considered unsettling.
As the tightening grip of sanctions continues to squeeze the Iranian government, its latest rhetorical salvo only seeks to intimidate and weaken U.S. resolve to prevent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Now more than ever, the U.S. should commit to deploying the missile defense arsenal necessary to protect American interests both at home and abroad.
If Iranian declarations are true, the latest missile test represents another step in its progression into a more capable regional and geopolitical belligerent.
More advanced than the earlier generation short-range SCUD missile system, the Fateh A-110 can carry a payload of up to 500 kilograms. While ostensibly designed to deploy high explosives, chemical, or submunitions warheads, the Fateh A-110 could be outfitted with a nuclear or biological payload.
And given the increased range of this latest iteration of the Fateh A-110, this enhanced offensive capability places multiple strategic American targets squarely in the crosshairs of the Iranian government, including the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain.
The ongoing development of the short-range Fateh A-110, coupled with the medium and longer range Ashoura and Shahab-3 missiles, rescind any doubts as to Iran’s desire to exert a more dominant role in the Middle East.
Given Iran’s stated desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and its government’s loathsome attitude toward the U.S., it would be incredulous to expect that, if after having acquired the capability to deploy nuclear or biological weapons against the U.S. or its allies, it would not do so.
Each successive Iranian provocation should serve as a reminder of this reality, and with these reminders the U.S. government should stand firm in its resolve to provide for the common defense of our nation’s citizens, allies, and national security interests.