Iran's Nuclear Breakout Capability

Chris Field
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Posted: Feb 20, 2009 11:24 AM
Townhall contributor and Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs Peter Brookes just sent me his comments on new analysis of recent IAEA (the U.N. nuclear watchdog) reports concerning Iran's nuclear capability.

From Peter:
*According to an analysis of an IAEA report, Iran may have enough fissile material this year to produce a nuclear weapon.

*This is a very serious and consequential judgment, especially coming from the IAEA, which has always been willing to give Iran the benefit of the doubt on the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

*Iran must still develop a warhead to deliver such a weapon, but it is believed that Iran has been working on developing such a warhead for the Shahab-class of ballistic missile (Project 111) which can range all of the Middle East and parts of southeastern Europe.

*In addition, the recent launch of an Iranian satellite means that Iran is developing the capability to send a payload, such as a nuclear weapon, to great distances, including intercontinental range.

*Our vulnerability is further increased by the fact that the Obama administration has put missile defense in Europe under review (in essence on hold), which provides us with our only defense against a nuclear-armed Iran.

*This deliberate vulnerability will limit the freedom of action of American policymakers against a country which seeks hegemony in the Middle East and sponsors terrorism.
This new report just gives more weight to the beliefs of many conservatives that the U.S. cannot afford to wait any long to develop our missile defense program.

And it's why the new Heritage Foundation documentary, "33 Minutes," is such a needed addition to the national dialogue on missile defense.
A ballistic missile from a foreign enemy would take 33 minutes to reach the United States. With each passing day, this becomes a growing danger to America, yet our government has failed to build the missile defense systems capable of defending us against such attacks.

Our enemies are attempting to stockpile arsenals that threaten our freedom and prosperity. North Korea and Iran are the most prominent, but this also includes Russia, China and other nations that have missiles capable of killing Americans in very large numbers and threatening our allies.

The time has come to revive the strategic missile defense system that America uniquely can develop, maintain, and employ for its own defense and the peace-loving world's security.

This documentary aims to do just that by highlighting the disastrous consequences of a nuclear explosion on American soil -- one that could happen in just 33 minutes.
Peter also has a much-needed piece in the February 2009 issue of Townhall Magazine (subscribe) titled, "Missile Defense: Now More Than Ever," that plainly lays out the case for missile defense and why any delays on implementation are merely an invitation for trouble.