If Iran Gets Nuclear Weapons And ICBM, It Will ‘Go Nuts’ With Aggressive Acts, Not Fearing Any U.S. Or Israeli Response

If the United States abandons plans to erect a European Missile Defense (EMD) shield against Iranian missiles, Washington as well will abandon the Czech Republic and Poland where the EMD is to be built, analysts warned, leaving other nations to conclude the United States is an unreliable ally.

Such a capitulation by the Obama administration would cast EMD foe Russia as a winner, and also further embolden an Iran that just demonstrated it grasps technologies needed to build its own intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), while also continuing to produce nuclear materials in defiance of global opinion. (Please see full story in this issue.)

Those analysts spoke at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) panel forum held on Capitol Hill to examine U.S. policies on Iran.

The closer Iran moves to becoming a nuclear power with ICBMs, the more that already-obstinate Tehran leaders will decide they can flout U.S. wishes, analysts said.

“The Iranians think that they have the whip hand,” said Danielle Pletka, an expert on weapons proliferation and the Missile East with AEI, a Washington think tank. “And the closer that they get to their desired goal, the more … they’re going to feel” free to defy global opinion.

Many in the Iranian leadership already see the United States as weak, she said.

If the United States now jettisons plans to construct the EMD, that would leave Washington dealing from a position of weakness, though Pletka said she wouldn’t go so far as to term it “unilateral disarmament.”

Rather, if Obama were to knuckle under to blistering Russian opposition to the EMD, and give up on the EMD shield, that “seems to me to put us in a significantly disadvantaged position,” Pletka said, responding to a question from Space & Missile Defense Report.

The problem is that the Russians won’t sign on to far more stringent sanctions against the Iranian rogue state unless the United States agrees to forego the planned EMD, she noted.

But the United States, if it abandons the EMD, also abandons the nations which took a major risk by agreeing to host the EMD: the Czech Republic (radar) and Poland (interceptors in ground silos).

“When we talk about all this, we forget we’re also going to end up throwing the Czechs and Poles under the gun,” she noted.

Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and former National Security Council Persian Gulf affairs director, agreed with Pletka that the issue with the Czechs and Poles “is the biggest problem out there.”

The United States signed an agreement with the two countries, promising them military aid as part of their agreeing to host the EMD. That came as Russia was increasingly belligerent toward former Soviet Union satellite countries, with Russian troops invading Georgia. If the EMD isn’t built, that leaves a question as to whether the Americans will provide the promised assistance.

While Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told key members of Congress that Iran was probably two to three years away from deploying missiles capable of striking targets in Europe and Russia, not even a week later Iran launched a satellite, using the same basic technology as an ICBM.

And Iran has thousands of centrifuges producing nuclear materials, which Western leaders fear will be used to construct nuclear weapons.

Once they build those nuclear weapons, Iranian leaders will think they have nothing to fear from Israel or the United States, Pollack said.

He recalled that once Pakistan developed nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, its leaders “went nuts,” sending people into neighboring Kashmir, a flashpoint in a long- running territorial dispute with rival India.

Even without nuclear weapons, Iran brazenly supplies weapons to terrorists, such as thousands of rockets and missiles that Hezbollah terrorists fired into Israel in 2006, and thousands more rockets and missiles that Palestinians have fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel.

Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said last year that the United States would annihilate Iran if it launches a nuclear-tipped missile striking Israel. She now is President Obama’s secretary of state.

Some analysts say Iran wouldn’t court destruction by nuking Israel, though Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad several years ago said he would be willing to see half of Iran destroyed if he could devastate Israel. He also has said Israel should be wiped from the map, and that Israel soon shall cease to exist.

While some dismiss this as over-the-top bombast that plays to a domestic Iranian street sentiment, with analysts saying Iran wouldn’t dare launch a nuclear strike on Israel, Pletka isn’t sure about that, citing Ahmadinejad’s threats.

“I think they would,” she said. “I think the threshold for Iran is much lower than we like to think it is.”