Rep. Franks Sees U.S. Satellite Shootdown Bolstering Missile Defense
The recent successful U.S. shootdown of a failed intelligence satellite by a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system bolstered support for BMD programs, both in Congress and in the American public, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), said.
Franks, a strong BMD supporter, spoke to a Missile Defense Agency-American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Washington, D.C.
He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Another factor helping to win support for BMD programs is the palpable threat posed by missile-wielding rogue nations that vow destruction of the United States, he said.
While the Cold War adversary was the old Soviet Union, led by tough but rational people, the new threat emanates from nations with psychotic leaders, according to Franks.
He asked whether one can depend upon restraint and rationality from leaders of nations where "jihadists cut off their victims’ heads," where many are willing to kill themselves to kill others, and many are willing to see death befall their own children if that helps to further terrorism.
Franks specifically cited Iran, which has amassed steadily longer-range missiles; fired massed missiles in a salvo; fired a missile from a submerged submarine; and announced plans to send a satellite into space, which involves much the same technology as an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Iran also has refused Western demands that it cease producing nuclear materials, which Iran claims would be for electrical power generation but which Westerners say might be used to develop nuclear weapons. Also, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be wiped from the map.
Iran, Franks said, is the world’s largest financier and supporter of terrorism. Iranian leaders also deny that the Holocaust ever occurred.
While some intelligence estimates see Iran having a long-range missile by 2015, many such estimates have proven to be wrong, Franks noted, saying it could happen much sooner.
It is therefore imperative to move rapidly in furthering BMD programs, especially in erecting the proposed Ground-based Midcourse Defense system in Europe to guard the continent against missiles from Middle Eastern nations such as Iran, he said.