Iranian Leader Assails European Missile Defense Plan
An Iranian leader who has called for wiping Israel off the map lashed out at plans to install a U.S. Ground-based Midcourse missile Defense (GMD) shield at a new site in Europe, according to the Fars News Agency in Iran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the plan to establish a radar center in the Czech Republic and interceptors in silos at a site in Poland.
“Such a plan goes beyond threatening one country,” he claimed. “It concerns most of the continent, all Asia.”
President Bush has said the system is needed to protect Europe, U.S. troops stationed there, and the United States itself from missiles launched from nations in the Middle East, including Iran.
His comments come after Iran has tested more capable missiles, including multiple launches, and the launch of a missile from a submerged submarine. Separately, Iran has refused to accede to demands of Western nations, the United Nations and others to cease its production of nuclear materials, which Iran claims is merely fuel for electrical generating reactors but which the United States and others fear will be used to produce nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad said that rather than the European GMD system being a protective shield, it creates a threat. Rather than safeguarding Europe, the GMD system endangers “all Asia,” the Iranian leader asserted. He made that claim as he attended a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Kyrgyzstan. The SCO includes Russia, China and four ex- Soviet Central Asian countries. Iran has observer status in the SCO.
Russia has objected, strenuously, to the GMD plan, saying it is aimed at defeating Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), an assertion the United States finds absurd, given the thousands of nuclear warheads in the Russian arsenal versus the 10 interceptors planned for deployment in Poland. Further, the interceptors don’t have the range or speed to catch Russian nuclear missiles.
But Russian leaders including President Vladimir Putin have turned deaf ears to such reasoning, at one point threatening to obliterate any GMD system as soon as it is built, while at another point vowing to target their ICBMs at European cities, similar to Cold War days.
Their one friendly gesture was to offer use of a Russian radar installation in Azerbaijan as part of any European missile defense system, which Bush termed “interesting” but Pentagon leaders have said would be inadequate to provide the rapid, long-range radar capability required to take down enemy missiles.
According to Fars, Putin said at the meeting that “any attempts to solve global and regional problems unilaterally are hopeless,” and called for “strengthening a multi-polar international system that would ensure equal security and opportunities for all countries.”
Russia’s belligerent comments are of a piece with moves in Moscow to counter U.S. superpower status.