WASHINGTON—Lawmakers on the hill cite grave concerns that President Obama is cutting desperately needed Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) defenses that protect the United States while his administration is only helping Iran further develop ways to launch ICBM attacks on America.
“The administration is paving the way for Iran to become a strategic threat to the United States eventually with ICBM’s, while at the same time suppressing our own ability to defend the homeland against such weapons,” House Armed Services Committee member Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, told The Daily Caller last Thursday.
In February of 2014, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile pursuits would not be removed from the deal.
“It is true that in these first six months we’ve not shut down all of their production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon,” she told lawmakers. “But that is indeed going to be part of something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement.”
However, one month later, when U.S. officials brought forth an agreement to Iran, Republican lawmakers on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees say the administration gave Iran the building blocks to further develop nuclear weapons along with a delivery system that could reach the United States.
“What was given up [in the agreement] is unlike when Wendy Sherman testified in February that we are going to include in a comprehensive deal ballistic missiles. We completely dropped that,” a congressional aid told TheDC. “And we’ve given up any discussion on ballistic missiles at all with the exception of acquiescing to the Iranian demand to keep it in at the 11th hour with regard to the arms embargo. We are agreeing to drop the embargoes and the UN Security Council resolutions regarding ballistic missiles.”
“That’s a great concern. One of my two major objections is [Iran] being able to get enough material for a bomb within one year. And the ICBM is a direct national security threat to the United States,” House Armed Services Committee member Louisiana Republican John Fleming told TheDC Thursday.
“It is true that in these first six months we’ve not shut down all of their production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon,” Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2014. “But that is indeed going to be part of something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement.”
Franks, chairman of the House missile defense caucus also warns that the U.S. does not have an appropriate missile defense shield, as a result of administration budget cuts, that could stop ICBM missiles launched from Iran.
“I’m profoundly aware of this administration’s unspeakable irresponsibility when it comes to missile defense. They have worked to diminish the budget more than any administration in my lifetime, in terms of trying to suppress that budget.”
The last budget that President Bush submitted to the Congress for missile defense in fiscal year 2009 was on the order of $9.4 billion. The budget Obama submitted this year for missile defense was just $1 billion. In fact, in Obama’s first budget, he arbitrarily slashed missile defense by $1.6 billion and he canceled every missile-defense program.
Ballistic missiles have three phases of flight. In the boost phase, the rocket is still burning. During the midcourse phase, it is traversing space, which is the longest part of the flight, and is terminal when it reenters the atmosphere. The Obama administration halted the boost phase missile defenses that could destroy missiles early in flight.
“When the Obama administration came in we were developing boost phase missile defenses to get that missile early in flight. Obama killed all of them,” a congressional aid told TheDC.
“When the president came in we were going to have 44 ground-based interceptors at Fort Greeley and he said, ‘Nope we only need 30.’ When the president came in we were developing a ground based interceptor site we have in Vandenberg, California and those missiles we have over in Alaska. Those interceptors are the only capability we have to defend the United States from an ICBM. He killed that site and he said, ‘don’t worry about it. I’m going to do this European based adapter approach and I’m going to put a brand-new interceptor missile that doesn’t exist anywhere on paper but I’m going to develop that and I’m going to put that in Poland instead.’”
Immediately following his re-election, Obama killed the interceptor site planned for Poland, which was intended to defend the U.S. from incoming ICBMs from Iran. It should be noted that in 2012, Obama was caught on a live microphone telling then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev during a nuclear security summit “After my election, I have more flexibility.” Obama laughed off criticisms at the time when he was questioned about the remark.
However, a few months after the president was elected to a second term, he killed phase 4, the European Phase Adapter Approach program that he said he was going to put as an ICBM killer missile in Poland.
According to the Lexington Institute, “The United States currently spends about one-percent of its military budget on missile defense — roughly $8 billion in a posture costing $600 billion annually.”
The Lexington Institute, in a white paper notes that national missile defense is given a low priority because “policymakers believe the current nuclear balance can be sustained indefinitely, and that effective defense against a determined attack by a major nuclear power such as Russia isn’t practical.”
Ultimately, the Congress and the president continue to fight over deploying any further missile defense sites, including a site on the East Coast. Republicans argue the missile defense in Poland was intended to defend the United States against Iran.