Dr. Senn is a lecturer in security studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
It would appear logical that the deployment of missile defense (MD) systems in the Middle East is preceded, or at least accompanied, by a thorough debate of possible effects on regional arms dynamics and, in particular, on Iran as a major proliferation concern. The reality, however, is sobering. While the bulk of attention has been on Iran’s advancing nuclear program, as well as on the prospect of a nuclear-proliferation cascade in the region and the consequential harm to the nuclear non-proliferation regime,1 Iran’s missile developments in the context of regional arms dynamics and, in particular, ballistic-missile defense (BMD) in the Middle East, have largely remained beyond the horizon of attention.2 The paradigm of stability through BMD restraint seems to have disappeared along with the Soviet Union, and there is no anxiety about action-reaction syndromes. Missile defense has thus been portrayed as a cure without side effects. As this article will show, however, the case of Iran and regional missile defense will be no exception to Newton’s third law of action and reaction. It is argued that the accelerating deployment of BMD systems in the Middle East will induce the Islamic Republic of Iran to take countermeasures that will, in turn, fuel regional arms dynamics and run contrary to the interests of Iran’s neighbors, Europe and the United States.
The article will proceed in three steps. First, it will present an overview of regional missile-defense projects and then advance to a brief analysis of respective demand- and supply-side motivations. Second, it will focus on Iranian perceptions of BMD deployments in the Middle East and outline the central role of ballistic missiles in Iran’s deterrence posture. This is the pivot of the overall argument, as it explains why Tehran will deem it necessary to react to BMD deployments. Finally, the article will discuss how Iran might respond to missile defense in its neighborhood.
MISSILE DEFENSE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
BMD deployments in the Middle East are gathering steam. Although Israel still has the edge with its efforts to erect a multilevel defense architecture, a host of countries in the region have started to follow suit or have, at least, announced their intention to do so in the near future. This growing demand for missile-defense technology is eagerly met by Russia and, in particular, by the United States, which has played the most prominent role as external collaborator, supplier and advocate of an integrated missile-defense architecture in the region.
Israel’s missile-defense program is by far the most advanced and ambitious in the Middle East. At the core of its multilevel defense architecture is the Arrow system, which has been developed in cooperation with the United States. The currently deployed Arrow-2 interceptors are designed to protect against SCUD-type missiles with ranges up to 2,000 km. Missiles beyond this range will be intercepted by the U.S. Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) or the planned Arrow-3,3 but Israel’s decision on that matter is still pending. These two layers of defense could eventually be completed by an upgrade of Israel’s existing Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) missile to PAC-3,4 which intercepts short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM)5 in their terminal phase. Eventually, defense against missiles with shorter ranges, rockets and cruise missiles will be enabled by the joint U.S.-Israeli projects Iron Dome and David’s Sling. The former will offer protection against Qassam and Katyusha rockets and is expected to achieve operational status in 2010,6 whereas the latter is to be deployed against short-range missiles, rockets of varying ranges and cruise missiles in 2011.7 According to recent media reports, Israel also seeks to buy the U.S. Phalanx system, which uses a cannon with a very high fire rate to intercept rockets and shells.8 The long-term vision for Israel’s missile defense is thus a comprehensive active protection against a wide variety of threats emerging from its immediate and remote neighborhood.
Israel’s missile defense dwarfs the capabilities of other countries in the region, at least for the time being. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is on the fast track to acquiring a considerable U.S.-supplied BMD capacity. Three Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) fire units, which include nine launchers and 147 missiles, four radars and six fire-and-control communication stations,9 will protect the UAE against short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and will be bolstered by 172 PAC-3 missiles.10 This combination of THAAD and PAC-3s will already result in a relatively thick defense, which could be further strengthened by the integration of the sea-based Aegis missile-defense systems of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. These Aegis systems use SM-3 interceptors to counter missiles beyond SRBM ranges.
Kuwait, which shares not only Abu Dhabi’s oil wealth but also its anxiety regarding Iran, is likewise engaged in a considerable missile-defense build-up. It already possesses PAC-2 systems and is scheduled to receive an arms package consisting of 80 PAC-3 missiles, upgrades for 60 PAC-2 missiles and PAC-related equipment.11 Unlike Kuwait, Saudi Arabia has so far shown no interest in modernizing its existing PAC capability. The same is true for THAAD, although Saudi Arabia was briefed on the system, along with several other countries in the Middle East. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect that Riyadh will also strengthen its BMD capability, given Iran’s growing missile force and the overall trend towards BMD deployments in the Middle East.12
In the case of the Gulf states, Washington’s role in the field of missile defense has not been limited to that of a supplier. Since the days of the Clinton administration, the United States has been advocating an integrated regional-defense system, including the national capabilities of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Egypt.13 So far, cooperation among the GCC states has remained confined to a joint aerospace surveillance system, but the United States has remained committed to its plans despite the reluctance of its allies. In December 2008, the project of integrated BMD in the Middle East was reportedly addressed at a conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Bahrain,14 and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently explained that the United States is “working both on a bilateral and a multilateral basis in the Gulf to establish the same kind of regional missile defense that would protect our facilities out there as well as our friends and allies.”15 A graphic overview of a “notional” missile-defense network in the Middle East was included in a February 2009 briefing by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). According to this overview, the integration of regional PAC-3, THAAD and Aegis SM-3 systems would shield a considerable part of the Arabian Peninsula, with the thickest defense being in the littoral regions of the Persian Gulf.16
Beyond the Gulf region, Turkey will buy 13 PAC-3 fire units17 worth $7.8 billion. after reviewing bids by China (HongQi-9), Israel (Arrow-2), Russia (S-300, S-400) and the United States (PAC-3). In addition to this initial capability, Ankara reportedly plans to deploy a second MD system type, which will probably consist of four batteries.
What are the reasons for this missile-defense rush? As far as the demand is concerned, Iran’s steadily advancing ballistic-missile program, its accompanying martial rhetoric, and the missile capability’s open (and at times faked) display seem to be the main but not exclusive motivators. In the case of Israel, Syria’s ballistic missile arsenal as well as missile and rocket attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah are additional drivers of its multiple MD programs. Latent anxiety regarding Israel’s missile capabilities in turn provides an additional incentive for Arab states in the region to improve their defenses. As for Turkey, recent changes in U.S. missile-defense deployment plans could reinforce Ankara’s MD acquisition decisions. If the United States accepted Russia’s proposal to cooperate on missile defense, the deployment of a forward-based X-band (FBX) in Turkey (or Azerbaijan) would be necessary to support the radar systems in Azerbaijan and southern Russia.18 Moreover, Turkey could be chosen for the deployment of interceptors, as was proposed by Vladimir Putin in 2007. Following the argument that missile-defense sites are targets for missile strikes, Ankara would probably see future deployment requests as an opportunity to advance its BMD plans.
The motivations of the United States as the predominant supplier of MD technology in the region obviously include an economic dimension: the deployment or joint development of BMD ensures profits for arms-producing companies. Still, Washington’s missile-defense policy is not solely grounded in the economic realm, but is primarily intended to serve as a counterweight to what has been perceived as an aggressive military build-up in Iran. As such, it is expected to have four functions. First, a dense network of active defense systems is seen as a considerable enhancement of the ability to deter Iran (by denial) and therefore also as decreasing the pressure on Washington to provide extended deterrence in the volatile region. Second, the ability to defend against Iranian missile strikes is intended to contain the demand of U.S. allies for an indigenous nuclear-weapons capability and thus to have a non-proliferation function. Third, the deployment of MD is expected to fulfill a counterproliferation function by dissuading Iran from continuing with its ballistic-missile program. The expectation of a dissuasive effect was aptly expressed in a recent article by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which stated that “the enhancement of modern missile defenses already being deployed in Israel and purchased by several GCC states may introduce uncertainty into the minds of Iranian leaders about the military utility of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.”19 Fourth, BMD should offer protection of critical infrastructure such as military or oil-producing facilities and population centers in the case that deterrence of an Iranian missile strike fails. As will be demonstrated in the next parts of this article, these expectations are misleading; they fail to recognize both the importance Tehran attaches to its missile deterrent and Iran’s ability to react to BMD deployments in the region.
Overall, missile-defense deployments in the Middle East have been picking up pace and, unlike in other policy areas, President Obama will not reverse the course set by the Bush administration. Obama is following through on his campaign pledge to reevaluate U.S. missile-defense efforts; however, whereas Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) and other ambitious programs will undergo budget cuts or even cancellation, regional missile defenses will be strengthened “to focus on the rogue-state and theater-missile threat.”20 After the Bush administration’s reversal of Clinton’s missile-defense priorities, regional missile defenses have made a comeback in Washington.
IMPACT ON IRAN
As missile defense becomes a reality in the Middle East, it is imperative to ask how it will affect the Islamic Republic of Iran. The following investigation of Tehran’s threat perceptions and deterrence posture reveals answers to this question and hence explains why Iran will be forced to react to MD deployments in its neighborhood.
It is commonly known that a military capability is not a threat per se. The threatening quality of a certain capability depends on assumptions about associated intentions. For decades, assumptions of Iran’s ruling elite regarding U.S. intentions have derived from the image of an imperialist force that “seeks to dominate the Middle East and, together with its local allies, control the region strategically and loot its resources.”21 Ultimately, however, the United States is seen as pursuing the goal of overthrowing the theocratic regime one way or the other.22 In recent years, this perception has been strengthened by a number of policies (e.g., funding for oppositional groups and extra-territorial broadcasts in Farsi) and rhetoric (e.g., “axis of evil,” “real men go to Tehran,” “all options are on the table” and the like). As a consequence, Tehran undoubtedly perceives missile defense as anything but purely defensive. It is, rather, seen as a shield that will allow the United States and Israel to use force against Iran with greater freedom, whether to attack the ruling elite or to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. In other words, the deployment of missile defenses by the United States and its allies is most likely regarded as ultimately serving an offensive purpose.
The prospect of increased BMD capabilities is particularly troubling for Tehran, because the ability to credibly threaten U.S. allies and assets with ballistic missiles is a central pillar of its deterrence posture. The role of Iran’s ballistic missiles is the consequence of the lessons Tehran learned as a victim of missile attacks during the Iran-Iraq War, as an attentive observer of the military and political virtue of ballistic missiles during the 1991 Gulf War, and as a user of asymmetric warfare (AW) tactics during the “Tanker War.”23 However, Iran’s reliance on missiles as a means of AW is not a matter of pure choice, but rather of necessity, due to the war-depleted and sanction-stricken state of its conventional armed forces. The resulting obsolescence of Iran’s military technology, which is predominantly of Western origin, has been aggravated by comparatively low levels of funding.24 As illustrated in Table 1, Iran’s military expenditures were considerably smaller than Saudi Arabia’s and not much more than the defense expenditures of small Kuwait and the UAE during the 1990s. In the realm of arms imports, a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) notes that Iran “accounted for only 5 percent of transfers to the Middle East for the period 2004-2008 and was the 27th-largest recipient of major conventional weapons worldwide.”25 While Saudi Arabia ranks twenty-sixth worldwide, the UAE has turned into the prime arms importer in the region (with a share of 34 percent) and the third-largest arms importer globally.26 Given the poor state of its conventional forces and its experience with asymmetrical and missile warfare, Tehran’s reliance on ballistic missiles as a central means of deterrence is hardly surprising.27
The importance of missile-based deterrence has also been underlined by a number of measures that have been intended to strengthen the material and psychological dimension of the deterrent’s credibility. Tehran has begun to increase the resilience of its missile force by constructing hardened silos. Uzi Rubin noted in 2006 that “hardened fixed sites were preferred by both superpowers as the chief (and in the case of the United States, the exclusive) basing mode of the core of their ground-based ICBMs. There are indications that the Iranians are now following suit.”28
More information on the location and architecture of Iran’s silo sites was provided by Sean O’Connor on his IMINT & Analysis blog in 2008 and 2009.29 While a first set of silos near Tabriz in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province already offers some degree of protection for missiles, the second set of silos at the Imam Ali missile base near Khorramabad in the Lorestan province could considerably improve the survivability of Shahab missiles, which could be housed at the site. As far as the range of these missiles is concerned, a recent report by the EastWest Institute notes that Iran’s Shahab-3M is at present able to transport a 1,000 kg payload to a range of 1,100 km. Moreover, Iran already possesses the technology to be able to extend this range to 2,000 km in a couple of years.30 Table 2 indicates that these ranges enable Iran to reach crucial targets in the region and therefore provide a second-strike capability against the military facilities of the United States and its allies in the Middle East.
Unlike the comparatively short history of the above-mentioned efforts to bolster the material basis of its credibility, psychological “boosters” have been a long-term feature of Iran’s missile deterrent. The psychological dimension combines “an outstanding degree of transparency,”31 which at times borders on exhibitionism, with aggressive rhetoric. Iran’s missile tests are carefully staged and usually broadcast on TV. The faked picture of a missile test, which was unmasked in July 2008,32 indicates that Tehran places great value on its image as a capable missile power. Moreover, missile tests are frequently accompanied by rhetoric that is intended to emphasize the increasing technological maturity of Iran’s missile arsenal and the leadership’s strong determination to retaliate in case of attack. In March 2008, for example, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard announced that “Iran has missiles with a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), and based on that all Israeli land, including that regime’s nuclear facilities, are [sic] in the range of [Iran’s] missile capabilities.”33
In addition to the strategic challenge posed by missile-defense deployments in the region, ideological and popular pressures will be further factors thwarting the dissuasive effect of BMD. Iran’s missile program has been cultivated as a widely visible sign of the country’s technological craftsmanship and great-power status and therefore fulfills an important function beyond the military dimension. Given Iran’s historical great-power aspirations, it is unlikely that it will reevaluate the utility of its missile program. Furthermore, the assumption that it can be dissuaded disregards the fact that defiance and self-reliance in the face of external threats are deeply engrained in Iran’s strategic culture.
A critic of the action-reaction argument in this article might raise the point that Iran could rely on its current missile arsenal to overcome defense systems and would therefore not see itself as being forced to react. A historical example, however, reveals that this point is wishful thinking. In their article on U.S. reactions to Russian missile defense around Moscow, Kristensen, McKinzie and Norris refer to recently declassified documents showing that “[d]espite disagreements and doubts, U.S. nuclear planners gave high priority to targeting the Moscow and Tallinn systems, worrying that even a limited ABM capability could diminish a strike against Soviet ICBM silos.”34 In addition to targeting the Soviet systems with approximately 10 percent of its ICBM arsenal (about 100 Minuteman missiles), Washington also intensified research into, and eventual deployment of, penetration aids and multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).35 Unlike the United States, however, which directed its planning and modernization efforts against two systems with largely unknown performance capabilities, Iran confronts systems that are considered to be the most successful parts of the U.S. missile-defense program.
ANTICIPATING IRANIAN REACTIONS
As this article has suggested so far, there are strong indicators that Iran will not passively witness the deployment of numerous, possibly interconnected missile-defense systems in its neighborhood. Hence, the question arises of how Tehran could eventually meet this challenge. As a preliminary answer, it can be noted that Iran’s ability to react symmetrically is very limited, whereas the range of asymmetrical options appears to be broad.
On the symmetrical side, Iran’s efforts to acquire a missile-defense capability have not been successful. Although Russia has already supplied Iran with modern air-defense equipment worth $700 million,36 the future of an alleged sale of S-300PMU-1 air- and missile-defense systems, which is considered to be Russia’s PAC equivalent, is shrouded in uncertainty. It was reported that this sale would include 40 to 60 launchers37 (each carrying 4 interceptors) of the sophisticated S-300PMU-1, but the deal has been persistently denied by Russian decision makers. In view of Russia’s reluctance to sell S-300s, Tehran now seems to show interest in China’s Hong-Qi9 (HQ-9) air-defense system,38 which is reported to draw on the Russian S-300 and U.S. Patriot systems. If Iran eventually acquired either of the two, it would considerably boost its ability to protect critical assets such as nuclear facilities or missile silos against air and missile strikes.
On the asymmetrical side, Tehran could resort to at least four types of measures to overcome or avoid BMD. The first measure is a quantitative extension of Iran’s ballistic- missile arsenal that would ensure the saturation of MD systems. A December 2008 article in Jane’s indicates that this prospect is not farfetched, as Iran is reported to have extended its Shahab-3 arsenal from 30 to over 100 missiles in a year’s time.39 Even if the deployment of BMD in the Middle East does not lead to a further increase in the production and deployment rate, it will certainly not induce Iran to curb the steady expansion of its arsenal.
Second, Tehran could draw on qualitative improvements to maintain its missile deterrent. Provided that Iran does not receive significant foreign assistance, MIRV technology will likely remain beyond its reach. Tehran could, though, deploy less sophisticated but equally effective BMD countermeasures. The form and availability of BMD countermeasures was analyzed in a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which, among other measures, mentions submunitions with biological or chemical agents as a very effective way of overcoming missile-defense systems.40 Submunitions provide BMD systems with too many targets to intercept, allow an attacker to cover a wide area and thus compensate for the inaccuracy of less sophisticated ballistic missiles. Hence, submunitions with chemical agents ideally suit Iran’s needs.
As far as the availability of submunitions technology is concerned, the report notes that the required information is freely available and that “[t]he level of technology required to develop submunitions is simpler than that required to build long-range ballistic missiles.”41 The alleged test of a submunitions warhead on a Shahab-3 missile in November 200642 indicates that Iran may already be exploring the use of submunitions on ballistic missiles. As far as Iran’s chemical-weapons capability is concerned, experts deem it likely that Tehran still retains a certain ability to produce and weaponize chemical agents.43
Third, Tehran could seek to counter the defensive edge by extending its arsenal of cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Compared to ballistic missiles, cruise missiles offer a number of advantages.44 Due to their small size and similarity to other (non-)military vehicles, they are easier to conceal than ballistic missiles and therefore less vulnerable to enemy strikes. Moreover, cruise missiles are not as cost-intensive as BM, allow greater accuracy, are ideally suited to disperse chemical and biological agents and, most important, pose a considerable challenge to missile-defense systems. This is due to their “inherently low visual, infrared and radar signatures”45 and their ability to fly at low altitudes, enabling them to remain below the horizon of ground-based radars. As Dennis Gormley notes for Patriot, which is also designed to intercept cruise missiles, “The earth’s curvature means that the Patriot’s ground-based radar, in trying to detect a cruise missile flying at a 50-metre altitude, might first see it only when it has closed to some 35 km or less [emphasis in original].”46 The advantages of cruise missiles and their ability to overcome missile-defense systems was vividly demonstrated by the performance of PAC-3 systems during Operation Iraqi Freedom. While the systems successfully intercepted nine Iraqi ballistic missiles, they proved ineffective against four out of five Iraqi cruise missiles.47
Iran already possesses Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM) such as the Chinese HY-2 (referred to as Seersucker) and is also engaged in the acquisition of more sophisticated Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACM). In addition to purchasing cruise missile systems from foreign sources, as was the case with the KH-55 LACM (3,000 km range) it obtained from Ukraine in 2001, Iran is also reported to be exploring the technically challenging conversion of ASCM into LACM,48 as well as the indigenous (further) development of an allegedly stealthy ASCM labeled Kosar. Iran’s cruise-missile program is expanding, and Gormley already identifies missile-defense capabilities in the region as a decisive motivator.49
As far as the possible operational posture of Iran’s arsenal of cruise missiles is concerned, Iran could choose to equip them with chemical agents or to follow the pattern of joint use with ballistic missiles. By neutralizing the radar systems of BMD systems, cruise missiles would increase the likelihood that ballistic missiles reach their targets.50 The same function could be fulfilled by UAV, which Iran has successfully built, deployed and even proliferated (to Hezbollah). In February 2009, Iran’s deputy minister of defense claimed that Iran possesses a new type of UAV with a range of 1,000 km.51
Finally, the question arises whether an efficient protection of U.S. assets and allies in the Middle East could induce Tehran to change its deterrence strategy to include targets beyond the region. For two reasons, however, this scenario is not plausible. First, a missile threat to Europe would eventually backfire, as European countries are important trading partners for Iran and could therefore put pressure on its already ailing economy. Second, Iran’s technological capabilities would only allow the development of “large, visible and cumbersome”52 IRBMs and ICBMs, which could not be deployed on mobile launchers or in silos, would take a long time to prepare for a launch, and would therefore be of little utility for deterrence. It has to be noted, though, that Iran could rely on foreign expertise to speed up the development of resilient IRBMs and ICBMs.53 For now, however, the inclusion of Europe in Iran’s deterrence strategy seems unlikely from both a political and a technological point of view.
The deployment of missile defense in Iran’s extended neighborhood is a bellwether of the offensive-defensive arms dynamic that has been an enduring feature of the strategic landscape for decades. As Israel strives to erect a multilayered defense system, Iran’s neighbors fund programs to acquire the most advanced MD technologies, and Washington keeps pushing for an integrated defense system along the western shores of the Persian Gulf, Tehran will see a growing danger to its missile deterrent. The hope of missile-defense advocates that BMD may dissuade Iran’s missile ambitions is misleading, because Tehran’s missiles are not merely a means of choice but rather of strategic necessity, given the poor condition of its conventional forces. Moreover, the missile force and its technological advancement are precious symbols of Iran’s claim to great-power status.
The prime question is, therefore, not whether, but how, Iran will react. As it was argued, Iran’s symmetrical-reaction capability is limited, but Tehran could still implement various asymmetrical measures to counter BMD. All of these measures are utterly counterproductive from the perspective of non-proliferation and strategic stability in the region. Not only would they stimulate the arms dynamic in the Middle East and weaken efforts to ban chemical weapons and cluster munitions; they would also move the ambitious goal of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East further into the future and hence impede efforts towards global nuclear disarmament. What is more, missile defense will not ease Washington’s burden regarding the security of its allies. As Iran’s reactions will be perceived as a further aggressive arms build-up, American allies in the region will continue to seek U.S. protection.
Ultimately, the U.S. aim of ensuring stability in the Middle East is not compatible with a growth of missile-defense capabilities. This is why Washington should extend the re-evaluation of its missile-defense policy to the regional level. An entire retreat from regional BMD developments is both unrealistic and unwise. Russia and China would be more than willing to satisfy regional missile-defense demands and the administration would face enormous domestic and allied pressure. What the Obama administration should do, though, is to freeze the further extension (i.e., deployment of more systems and their integration) of missile defense in the Middle East while pursuing an engagement policy toward Iran. The key to dissuading Iran from extending the quality and quantity of its missile arsenal eventually lies in a diplomacy that takes Tehran’s security-related concerns into account. An attempt to dissuade by military build-up only contributes to Iran’s distorted view of the United States and therefore undermines efforts at rapprochement.
Table 1. Defense Expenditures of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE
constant (2005) $ millions
% of GDP
constant (2005) $ millions
% of GDP
% of GDP
% of GDP
Source: The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database. http://milexdata.sipri.org/ (accessed March 18, 2009).
* Excluding paramilitary forces (Basij and law-enforcement forces) and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
** Figures are for the adopted budget for defense and security. Figures for 1990 and 1991 are SIPRI estimates.
*** Figures in $ m. for 2005-07 and figures in % of GDP for 2005, 2006 are SIPRI estimates.
**** Figures exclude expenditures of the UAE’s seven emirates. According to SIPRI, an inclusion of the emirates’ data would result in “considerably higher” expenditures. Figures in millions of dollars and percent of GDP for 1996 are SIPRI estimates.
Table 2. Distance between Iranian Silo Sites and Selected Targets*
* Site locations derived from IMINT & Analysis. Distances measured with Google Earth. ** A forward headquarters of U.S. CENTCOM is located at Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar.
* The author would like to thank Carola Bielfeldt, Franz Eder, Sean O’Connor and Peter Sequard-Base for their comments on earlier versions of this article as well as John Fluharty and Sigrid Ruppe-Senn for their revisions.
1 See, for example, Joseph Cirincione, “Perspective: A Mideast Nuclear Chain Reaction?,” Current History, Vol. 107, No. 713, 2008; “Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran,” in IISS Strategic Dossier (International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008); and James A. Russell, “A Tipping Point Realized? Nuclear Proliferation in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East,” Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2008.
2 Notable exceptions are Birthe Hansen, “The Middle East and Missile Defence,” in Missile Defence: In ternational, Regional, and National Implications, Bertel Heurlin and Sten Rynning eds. (Routledge, 2005), Aaron Karp, “The Middle East in Strategic Transition: From Offense to Defense Dominance?” in Missile Proliferation and Defences: Problems and Prospects, Occasional Paper No. 7 (Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Mountbatten Center for International Studies, 2001); Anoushiravan Ehteshami, “Tehran’s Tocsin,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 3, 2000; Reuven Pedatzur, “The Missile Race in the Middle East: Is There a Way Out?” INESAP Bulletin, No. 18, 2001. http://www.inesap.org/bulletin18/bul18art12.htm (accessed November 12, 2009); Richard L. Russell, “Swords and Shields: Ballistic Missiles and Defenses in the Middle East and South Asia,” Orbis, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2002; Mohamed Kadry Said, “Layered Defense, Layered Attack: The Missile Race in the Middle East,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2002.
3 See “Israeli Missile Defense: Arrow-3 Vs. SM-3,” CDI Missile Defense Update, August 13, 2008. http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=4362 (accessed November 12, 2009).
0 See Shannon N. Kile, “A Survey of US Ballistic Missile Defence Programmes,” in SIPRI Yearbook. Arma ments, Disarmament and International Security (Stockholm Peace Research Institute, 2008), pp. 412-13.
5 Missiles with ranges under 1,000km are classified as short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM), medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) have ranges between 1,000 and 3,000km, intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) have ranges between 3,500 and 5,500km. The last is considered to be the threshold for the class of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
6 See “Israel Tested Iron Dome Missile Defense System,” CDI Missile Defense Update, August 13, 2008. http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=4362 (accessed November 12, 2009).
7 See “U.S. and Israel to Cooperate on David’s Sling,” CDI Missile Defense Update, August 13, 2008. http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=4362 (accessed November 12, 2009).
8 See Steve Weizman, “Israel Wants to Buy US Missile Defense System,” Associated Press, April 21, 2009. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iVqjXPWQGE0sY-00wrn_8… D97MO6BG1 (accessed November 12, 2009).
9 See “UAE Applies to Become First THAAD Export User,” Jane’s Missiles & Rockets, April 9, 2009.
10 See “UAE First Mideast Buyer of PAC-3 Missile -Lockheed,” Reuters, December 23, 2008. http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaIpoNews/idUSN23121020081223 (accessed November 12, 2009).
11 See Wade Boese, “More States Step Up Anti-Missile Work,” Arms Control Today Vol. 38, No. 1, 2008, p. 52; “Kuwait - PAC-3 Missiles, PAC-2 Missiles to GEM-T and Patriot System Upgrade,” Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Transmittal No. 08-23, 2007. http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2007/Kuwait_08-23.pdf (accessed November 12, 2009). In addition to the missile defense capabilities of Kuwait’s armed forces, the United States deploys 16 PAC-3 systems in the country. See International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2009, p. 254.
12 In September 2009, it was reported that Saudi Arabia would be interested in the purchase of Russian S-400 defense system. Beyond the purpose of bolstering Saudia Arabia’s defenses, the arms deal, which could be worth between 2 and 7 billion USD, could also be an attempt to dissuade Russia from selling S-300 to Iran. See Charles Clover and Andrew England, “Saudis Seek Russian Pledge on Missiles,” Financial Times, September 29, 2009. http://tinyurl.com/yhj2mrs (accessed November 12, 2009).
13 See Said, “Layered Defense, Layered Attack,” p. 39.
14 See Claude Salhani, “U.S. Wants Gulf to Buy into Missile Defense System,” Middle East Times, December 15, 2008. http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/12/15/us_wants_gulf_to_buy_in… (accessed November 12, 2009).
15 Robert Gates and James Cartwright, “DoD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Gen. Cartwright from the Pentagon,” U.S. Department of Defense, September 17, 2009. http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4479 (accessed November 12, 2009).
16 See “Ballistic Missile Defense Program Briefing,” Ballistic Missile Defense Agency, 2009, p. 13.
17 See “Turkey – Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Guided Missiles,” Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Transmittal No. 09-44, 2009. http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2009/Turkey_09-44.pdf (accessed November 12, 2009).
18 See George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol, “European Missile Defense: The Technological Basis of Russian Concerns,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 37, No. 8, 2007, pp. 17-18.
19 “Preventing a Cascade of Instability: U.S. Engagement to Check Iranian Nuclear Progress,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2009, p. 5.
20 Robert Gates, “Dod News Briefing with Secretary Gates from the Pentagon,” U.S. Department of Defense, 2009. http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4396 (accessed November 12, 2009).
21 Shahram Chubin, “Iran’s Power in Context,” Survival, Vol. 51, No. 1, 2009, p. 166.
22 See Enayatollah Yazdani and Rizwan Hussain, “United States’ Policy Towards Iran after the Islamic Revolution: An Iranian Perspective,” International Studies, Vol. 43, No. 3, 2006.
23 See Kamran Taremi, “Beyond the Axis of Evil: Ballistic Missiles in Iran’s Military Thinking,” Security Dialogue, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2005, pp. 96-102.
24 See Anthony H. Cordesman and Martin Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces and Warfighting Capabilities: The Threat in the Northern Gulf (CSIS Press, 2007), pp. 29, 34.
25 Mark Bromley et al., SIPRI Arms Transfers Data, 2008 (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2009), p. 7. http://www.sipri.org/contents/update/SIPRIFS0904.pdf (accessed November 12, 2009).
26 Ibid., p. 3.
27 According to Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s ability to retaliate also relies on its ability to rapidly deploy forces into Iraq, to use state and non-state actors as partners and proxies, and to use conventional and paramilitary forces in asymmetrical operations (e.g., speedboat attacks in the Persian Gulf). See Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces and Warfighting Capabilities, pp. 198-99.
28 Uzi Rubin, The Global Reach of Iran’s Ballistic Missiles (Institute for National Security Studies/Kedem Publishing, 2006), p. 21.
29 Sean O’Connor, “Iranian Missile Silos,” IMINT & Analysis, February 20, 2008. http://geimint.blogspot.com/2008/02/iranian-missile-silos.html (accessed November 12, 2009). ———, “Khorramabad Missile Silos,” IMINT & Analysis, February 25, 2009. http://geimint.blogspot.com/2009/02/khorramabad-missile-silos.html (accessed November 12, 2009).
30 See “Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Potential: A Joint Threat Assessment by U.S. And Russian Technical Experts,” The East West Institute, 2009, pp. 7, 9.
31 Rubin, The Global Reach of Iran’s Ballistic Missiles, p. 11.
32 A state-released picture of the missile test showed the successful launch of four missiles. The original, leaked version depicts only three launches and one missile that remains on its launcher.
33 Quoted in Zahra Hosseinian and Edmund Blair, “Iran Missiles Can Reach Israel Atom Sites: Commander,” Reuters, March 4, 2009. http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSBLA45980720090304 (accessed November 12, 2009).
34 Hans M. Krisentensen, Matthew G. McKinzie, and Robert Norris, “The Protection Paradox,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2004, p. 71.
35 See Ibid., p. 73.
36 See “Russia Starts S-300 Missile Supplies to Iran - Iranian MP,” RIA Novosti, December 21, 2008. http://en.rian.ru/world/20081221/119041152.html (accessed November 12, 2009).
37 See Pavel K. Baev, “Moscow Raises Stakes in Iran Game,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2008. http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=33272 (accessed November 12, 2009).
38 See “Russia ‘Losing to China on Iran S-300 Quest’,” Press TV, May 9, 2009. http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=94183§ionid=351020101 (accessed November 12, 2009).
39 See Alon Ben-David, “Iran Accelerates Missile Production in Preparation for Possible Conflict,” Jane’s, December 11, 2008. http://www.janes.com/news/defence/systems/jdw/jdw081211_1_n.shtml (accessed November 12, 2009). The acceleration of Iran’s missile production was also acknowledge by Secretary of Defense Gates in his briefing on the new missile defense architecture in Europe: “The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab-3, is developing more rapidly than previously projected.” Robert Gates and James Cartwright, “DoD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Gen. Cartwright from the Pentagon.”
40 See Andrew M. Sessler et al., Countermeasures: A Technical Evaluation of the Operational Effectiveness of the Planned US National Missile Defense System, (Union of Concerned Scientists, MIT Security Studies Program, 2000), Ch. 7. http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nwgs/cm_all.pdf (accessed November 12, 2009). The possibility of equipping long-range missile with submunitions is also addressed in Robert Preston et al., Space Weapons Earth Wars (RAND, 2002), p. 187.
41 Sessler et al., “Countermeasures,” p. 51.
42 See Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces and Warfighting Capabilities, p. 143.
43 See Ibid., pp. 164-65.
44 See Thomas G. Mahnken, The Cruise Missile Challenge, (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2005), pp. 31-32. http://www.csbaonline.org/4Publications/PubLibrary/R.20050310.CruiseMis… (accessed November 12, 2009); Dennis M. Gormley, “Missile Defense Myopia: Lessons from the Iraq War,” Suvival, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2003-04, pp. 71-72.
45 Mahnken, The Cruise Missile Challenge, p. 33.
46 Gormley, “Missile Defense Myopia,” p. 67.
47 See Gormley, “Missile Defense Myopia,” p. 61.
48 See Dennis M. Gormley, Missile Contagion: Cruise Missile Proliferation and the Threat to International Security (Praeger Security International, 2008), p. 67.
49 See Ibid.
50 See John Stillion and David T. Orlesky, Airbase Vulnerability to Conventional Cruise-Missile and Ballistic-Missile-Attacks: Technology, Scenarios, and U.S. Air Force Responses (RAND, 1999), pp. 24-25.
51 See “New Iranian Capability Is Troubesome,” The Washington Times, February 19, 2009. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/19/new-iranian-capability-… (accessed November 12, 2009).
52 “Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Potential,” pp. 9-10.
53 See Ibid, p. 11.