(Rt Tv)United States officials say that the missile defenses are aimed at Iran. However, Iran’s missiles and motives indicate no threat to Europe.
One of the main issues facing the new President-elect Barack Obama is the European Missile Defense System that the Bush administration has been trying to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Russian Federation has been fiercely protesting this action and has viewed the installation of Anti-Missile Defenses as a direct threat to its national security.
The Kremlin has threatened to counter the deployment U by placing short to mid-range Iskander mhssiles in Kaliningrad. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack stated that the Anti-Missile Defenses are not aimed at Russia and expressed hope that one day Russia will see this. The threat that the defenses are aimed at, according to the White House, is Iran. But why would U.S. place missile defenses some 3,000 kilometers away from Iran? A look at the U.S. missile defense system and the Iranian ballistic missiles shows that Tehran’s strike on a major European city is highly unlikely.
U.S. Missile Defense
A missile defense system’s purpose is to intercept anything from ICBMs to smaller ballistic missiles. However, the missile defense systems in use today are not as sophisticated as one might think. They still need to be located close to the potential flight path of the missiles. An independent study by the American Physical Society (APS) in 2004 showed that, “effectiveness of interceptor rockets would be limited by the short time window for intercept, which requires interceptors to be based within 400 to 1,000 kilometers of the possible boost-phase flight paths of attacking missiles.”
The United States Army uses MIM-103 Patriot surface-to-air missile system (SAM). The Patriot system proved to be effective during the Gulf War in 1991, shooting down Iraqi SCUD missiles. Still, SCUDs are short to mid-range missiles, and the Missiles Defenses were located very close to the flight path of the missiles. There is no confirmation of U.S. Missiles Defense intercepting long range missiles far away from the launch point. According to the study by the APS, the missiles’ effectiveness decreases as the distance of the potential flight path of the ICBM or other missile increases.
Little is known about the Iranian missile program. However, the Iranian Mid-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) Fajr-3’s operational range is estimated at 2,300 kilometers. The Shahab-6 missile is Iran’s longest range ballistic missile with a range of 4,000-5,000 kilometers. Nevertheless, no official reports come of successful tests of this missile or any detailed information on the missile specifications in general. The last Iranian test that Washington has denounced was the Shahab-3, with a range of 2,300 kilometers.
Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to destroy Israel has not been taken lightly. Iran’s defiance of the West has only added fuel to the fire. Tehran is not allowing international organizations to monitor their nuclear enrichment program and is refusing to shut it down all together. It is already known that Tehran is able to strike Israel, however, there have been no threats made to Europe. There is a possibility that Iran has nuclear capabilities, but they are still a threat to Israel, rather than Europe.
Putting it all together
According to Google Maps, direct path from Tehran to Raciborz, Poland (located between Warsaw and Krakow), is 3,114 kilometers, which is beyond the potential range of Shahab-3 and Fajr-3 missile and it is still unknown whether Iran has successfully made an ICBM capable of striking major European cities. Tehran is more likely to strike Israel rather than a European nation.
U.S. Missile Defenses are more in the way of a possible strike by Russia on Europe, rather than by Iran. Iran may be a good excuse to move missile defenses closer to Russian borders, also creating closer ties with countries that are more outspoken against Russia than most other European nations.
The European Missile Defense System looks like an attempt by the GOP to bring the world back into a Cold War-like state. This only makes sense, as they were the party that claimed the victory over thd Soviet Union, when it collapsed in 1991. If things heat up around European Missile Defenses and Russia is made the “bad guy” again, the GOP will have a fighting change to reclaim the White House in 2012, riding on the wave of claims that they’ve defeated the “Evil Empire” once and they’ll do it again.
President-elect Obama has already said that the European Missile Defense system will have to prove its ability to protect Europe against Iran before he allows millions of dollars to be allocated for this project. Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough stated that, Obama’s “position is as it was throughout the campaign: that he [Obama] supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable.”
Aleksey Sazonov for RT