Iran on Wednesday cautioned other Persian Gulf states against joining in U.S. plans to establish a regional ballistic missile shield, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, April 2).
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said, "From the start we have rejected such a project, which is contrary to regional security, and we advise our friends to not take part in such a game," the Fars News Agency reported.
Last week, U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Madelyn Creedon said the Obama administration was interested in creating an antimissile system in the Middle East that would function similarly to the architecture being established in Europe with NATO. To that end, she said Washington would encourage "interoperability and information-sharing" among Persian Gulf states, a number of which have purchased or are planning to acquire U.S. missile defense technology (see GSN, March 27).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a Saturday address to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said the White House was prioritizing creating a regional missile shield to meet the threat of Iran's evolving missile capabilities. Washington also suspects Tehran of seeking a nuclear-weapon capability, an allegation rejected by Iranian leaders (see related GSN story, today).
"The antimissile shield in the Persian Gulf is an American-Zionist project and anybody who goes into that project will be playing the game of the Americans and Israel," Vahidi said (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, April 4).
Separately, Israel is in discussions with the Obama administration on ratcheting up the amount of U.S. monetary assistance the Middle Eastern state receives for its antimissile initiatives, along with setting up a funding apparatus that would not have to be approved yearly by the White House, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.
Tel Aviv presently receives roughly $3 billion yearly in military aid from the United States.
"We are trying to reach an agreement with the U.S. that will spread out over a number of years," an unidentified high-ranking Israeli defense official said.
Tel Aviv is hoping to secure $1 billion in assistance for work on its Iron Dome antirocket systems and the David's Sling technology, which is designed to shoot down short- and medium-range missiles.
Israeli sources said the bilateral discussions on the new multiyear budget program would probably wrap up sometime in the next few months.
"These discussions are taking place despite the budget problems that the Americans are having and should not be taken for granted," a different anonymous Israeli official said (Yaakov Katz, Jersusalem Post, April 4).