The Arab Gulf and the U.S. Strategic Partnership in Ballistic Missile Defense
May 4, 2015
Iran presents a wide range of challenges to U.S. strategic interests that go far beyond nuclear proliferation. It is steadily improving the number, range, and accuracy of its conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, as a way to offset the U.S. and Arab Gulf advantage in modern air power and surface-to-air missile defenses. Many elements of these same forces could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon, or a chemical, or biological warhead.
As a result, missile defense is becoming an increasingly more important part of the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Arab Gulf states, and will remain so regardless of the outcome of the P5+1 talks with Iran. Even if Iran never moves forward with nuclear-armed missiles, it is seeking to develop precision-guided conventional missiles that can attack key military, civil, infrastructure, and petroleum targets, and transform such missiles into “weapons of mass effectiveness.”
This is making missile defense a primary concern to Gulf defense officials as well as the U.S. The U.S. has already deployed missile defense ships to the Gulf, and the Arab Gulf states are deploying the PAC-3 and considering the purchase of THAAD and Standard wide area missile defenses.
Dr. Abdullah Toukan, Senior Associate at CSIS and President & CEO of Strategic and International Risk Assessment (SIRA), has developed a presentation that discusses the key aspects of both the evolving Iranian threat and options for a US and Arab Gulf strategic partnership in missile defense. His report, entitled The Arab Gulf and US Strategic Partnership in Missile Defense was briefed at the CSIS on May 4, 2015, and is available on the CSIS web site here.