Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New "Cuban Missile Crisis"?

For most Americans, the danger posed by Iran seems to be more symbolic than real. Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs represent a system opposed to our values. But, up till now, that threat has been limited to the Middle East. Our soldiers felt Iran's impact in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the average American has never really felt threatened by Iran. That is, until now.

There is a report in today's Jerusalem Post that Iran is secretly building rocket bases in Venezuela. The report is based on a May 13 article in the German newspaper Die Welt titled "Iranische Raketenbasis in Venezuela in Planungsphase" ("Iranian Missile Base in Venezuela in Planning Phase"). The article claims that the Iran and Venezuela completed a secret agreement last October to construct a missile base on the Paraguaná Peninsula in Venezuela (near Aruba) that could house intermediate-range Iranian missiles. The missiles and launch facilities would be hidden in underground silos.

So what's the threat to the U.S. or to other countries in the region? Initially the threat would be somewhat limited. Iran's Sajil-2 missile can travel approximately 1,200 miles, which puts Miami within range. More worrisome are recent reports that Iran and North Korea have been exchanging missile technology. North Korea has missiles with a range of 4,000 miles. A missile with that range, launched from Venezuela, could reach any destination in the continental United States.

One last piece of the puzzle. It is likely Iran is still working on developing nuclear weapons. Should they succeed in developing such weapons—and the West seems incapable of stopping them—they would have the ability to place those weapons far closer to the United States than we might ever have imagined.

Those of us old enough remember the Cuban Missile Crisis remember the threat posed by an enemy seeking to place weapons of mass destruction close to our border. Now, imagine a scenario where the person with his finger on the button is not an avowed Soviet atheist, who believes nuclear annihilation means the end of all life. Rather, the person is a radical Muslim who believes a worldwide conflagration must precede the return of the Mahdi.

Maybe we ought to be more concerned about what Iran is doing in the Middle East, and around the world. It's not just Israel who should feel threatened by the actions of their leaders!

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