Gustav Gressel


The proliferation of high-range missiles - for the most part connected with military nuclear programs - represents a characteristic factor of the military structure of the 21st century, especially in the Middle East. Today even latently instable revionistic states such as Saudi-Arabia, North Korea, Iran and Pakistan have missiles with a range of more than 2.000 km at their disposal. The latter three states even have limited production capacities: missiles with liquid propellants (R-17/SCUD, R-18/Nodong/Shahab-3/Gauri, including follow-ons such as Gadr) come from Russia; tanks, warheads and structure are manufactured locally; engines and control systems are imported via North-Korean intermediaries; missiles with solid fuels (Sajil, Shaheen 1 and 2) come from China and are unofficially manufactured with licence agreements, but some critical elements (guiding system) are still drawn from China. The West, on the other hand, has always tried to stop this development: by strengthening arms control, by sanctioning the rearming regional powers and by applying direct military force (Iraq War 1990/91 and 2003). The results of these efforts are hardly satisfactory. One can find traces of exported missiles and missile components in the Third World. Sanctions against North Korea and Iran have had no effect. Applying direct military power has caused high follow-up costs. Thus one need not be surprised that nowadays the governments of the Western leading nations think about procuring defensive weapons - respectively antiballistic missile defence systems - in the first place. This section is supposed to deal with the operating options of defence systems and the strategic intentions behind them without going into details. In the field of defensive and offensive weapons there are systems with limited deterrence, which have considerable consequences for the strategic planning of the respective opponent. Even limited defensive capacities can annihilate a nuclear offensive plan, as long as the opponent cannot be sure whether he will be able to inactivate essential first strike targets for sure. The same applies to the political symbolic effect which can counter a missile state. This possibility, however, naturally manifests itself in political influence and opens options for diplomacy. The main objective of the USA is presumably to counter further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East with antiballistic missile defence. Saudi-Arabia, Egypt and Turkey ought not to use the bomb in order to be able to defy Iran. The American protective umbrella had rather be improved and made more attractive, thus maintaining the American influence. If the range of Middle East missiles is increased, the USA will be able to protect themselves by establishing a third basis on the east coast. The giving up of the antiballistic missile defence plans for Europe proves that Europe has become irrelevant for the strategic planning in Washington; although those systems are stationed in Europe, they can hardly be used there properly. Only France seems to have assessed the situation appropriately and tries to take countermeasures of its own.