- - Monday, February 29, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Overlooked before the recent Obama nuclear deal was the fact that since 2001 Iran has had at least 12 nuclear-capable, Kh-55 Russian-made cruise missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to a range of up to 1,500 miles. These weapons were procured illegally from Ukraine and allow Iran to hit a target anywhere from New Delhi to Cairo.

Both cruise and ballistic missiles can carry nuclear warheads, but the cruise missiles are more difficult to intercept due to short launch times (mere minutes compared to Iran’s ballistic missiles, which take an hour or longer to launch).

Unfortunately the nuclear deal with Iran will allow Tehran to expand is arsenal of cruise missiles and more weapons systems, with about $150 billion provided by the United States following the lifting of sanctions. U.N. Resolution 2231 removed the bans that prevented Iran from buying conventional arms that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons. Russia and China have noted the treaty provision and, eager to rebuild ties with the Iranian defense industry, will provide new turbofan engines and guidance systems to improve the range and accuracy of Iran’s cruise missiles.

Chinese-made anti-ship missiles are fundamental to Iran’s strategy of contesting U.S.predominance in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Iran fired several such missiles against U.S.-flagged oil tankers at the end of the Iraq-Iran War, provided C-802 Saccades anti-ship missiles to Hezbollah, and test-fired two new anti-ship cruise missiles in recent naval maneuvers.

Given Iran’s history of transferring cruise missiles to Hezbollah (and probably Hamas), the United States and its partners must continue to interdict Iranian arms exports. In addition, the United States must give Israel several squadrons of F-15 aircraft into which Israel can put its own electronics, along with state-of-the-art bunker-busting bombs and airborne-refueling tanker aircraft. To overcome the handicap of brave Kurdish fighters, our best fighting allies, the United States should give the Kurds lethal weapons in order to counter the millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. arms captured by Iran proxy forces. America must help Israel, the Kurds, Egypt, Jordan and allied forces before it is too late.

A strike against treaty-violating Tehran’s nuclear facilities may have the bonus benefit of giving the Iranian people, betrayed in 2009 by Obama, a second chance to overthrow the dictatorship of the mullahs and theocracy.

LT. COL. DOMINIK GEORGE NARGELE

U.S. Marine Corps (retired)

Arlington


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