On December 11, Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test since USA’s withdrawal from UN-backed nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As per UN resolution 2231 which implemented JCPOA, “called upon” Iran to halt the development of nuclear-capable ammunition. The resolution thus failed to categorically ban Tehran from pursuing such a course which America’s foe conveniently neglected.
Washington’s failure in addressing Iran’s conventional threat thus mandates in a change of policy to counter the latter’s threat to American allies in the Middle-East. This policy paralysis is effectively exemplified by the fact that the heinous killing of Jamal Khashoggi drew more political attention than Iran’s landmark missile test as the Senate voted to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition against Tehran-backed Houthis in Yemen. This approach clearly suggests that Khashoggi’s brutal murder precedes all murders carried out by the theocratic regime in Iran.
Although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Iran’s ballistic missile test before the UN Security Council, he was unable to bring the international community on board as a majority of nations still support the JCPOA. Despite unilateral American sanctions on Tehran, the latter continues to develop conventional delivery systems.
Iran not only tests new ballistic missiles, but also proliferates into Syria, Iraq and Houthi Yemen. Countering this threat would require installation of Patriot and THAAD air defense systems in Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon to protect its allies in the Middle East. Some of these platforms were already installed in Bahrain, Jordan and Lebanon, but were recently realigned to counter rising threat from Moscow and Beijing.
The United States thus needs a more concrete approach in addressing any conventional threat from Iran by developing a regional missile defense system to protect its partners in the Gulf. Washington needs to take radical steps to shield its allies in the Middle East, such as increasing its military assets in the region.
Deployment of air defense systems should also be aimed at destroying any missile launched for testing by Iran. This would send a strong signal to Tehran that the United States and its allies will not tolerate any aggression by adversaries seeking to destabilize the latter’s interests internally or externally.
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