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Senate 90-5 Backs Ballistic Missile Defense Against Iranian Threat

By | July 16, 2007

      The Senate, on an overwhelming 90-5 vote, backed language stating that U.S. policy favors developing and deploying a ballistic missile defense system against the threat of an Iranian attack against the United States or its European allies.

      That vote is critical, because it comes as lawmakers are debating funding for a proposed Ground-based Midcourse missile Defense (GMD) system that would be installed in Europe.

      It would involve a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors in silos in Poland.

      Because the United States hasn’t yet concluded agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland to use lands in those nations for the system, some in Congress are moving to cut funds for the GMD system, also called the third site because it would be in addition to existing GMD facilities in Alaska and California.

      Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and ranking Republican on its strategic forces subcommittee, offered the amendment to the defense financial planning bill for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008.

      His amendment responded to bellicose moves by Iran, such as firing off a series of missiles in a test, and a separate move launching a missile from a submerged submarine.

      As well, Iran has rebuffed pressure from European nations, the United Nations and United States to cease producing nuclear materials. While Iran (a nation with huge oil reserves) says it requires nuclear material for electrical generation, Western powers fear Iran will use the materials to construct atomic weapons.

      “It is important that we acknowledge the growing threat to peace and security that arises from Iran’s nuclear and missile programs,” Sessions said.

      “Iran’s government has continued developing weapons of increasing sophistication and range, in defiance of the international community’s requests. Iran’s government has openly declared hostilities on America, and we have traced explosives and weapons found in Iraq back to Iran.”

      U.S. military leaders have said Iran is helping to arm terrorists who are killing U.S. military personnel by using increasingly sophisticated improvised explosive devices and other weapons, including those with shaped charges.

      In the 90-5 vote, “The Senate … acknowledged that we must build missile defense systems that ensure we are able to protect our country and our allies against a potential Iranian attack,” Sessions said.

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