The Corner

Missile Defense Is Not Just Over There Someplace

My friends Jack David (former deputy assistant secretary of defense for combating weapons of mass destruction) and Melanie Kirkpatrick (former WSJ deputy editorial page editor) have a great op-ed in the WSJ’s international edition today about President Obama’s abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe. A much missed point: The shield was, in part, intended to protect the eastern United States against the growing threat of Iranian missile attack:

It’s often forgotten that the now-dead system, which would have placed interceptor missiles in Poland and a powerful X-band radar in the Czech Republic, was also intended to provide an additional layer of defense for the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. from long-range Iranian missiles. Iran already has numerous short- and medium-range missiles, courtesy of its close collaboration with its North Korean ally. It is working on developing a long-range capability, which Pyongyang already has.

The U.S. is protected from the North Korean threat by a series of ground-based interceptors based in Alaska and California. But New York and Washington are a long way from Alaska and California, and the “third site,” as the European system was known, was designed in part to provide an additional layer of defense for the American East Coast.

The “smarter” missile-defense system that President Obama announced yesterday won’t replace that capability. The mobile and sea-based system could help protect Berlin and Paris from short-range or medium-range missiles, but it won’t protect New York from an ICBM. The administration’s plan is a blow to the security architecture that protects the American homeland.

By the way, the U.S. Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center reported earlier this year that “Iran has ambitious ballistic missile and space launch development programs and, with sufficient foreign assistance [ACM — which we know they’ve been getting], Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015.”

This really isn’t just Israel’s problem.

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