By Mark Whittington – Associated Content December 10, 2010
It appears that Iran is going to build a ballistic missile base in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, armed with intermediate-range missiles that can strike at the United States. Eerie parallels with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crises are being noted.
“According to Die Welt, Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to establish a military base manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Venezuelan missile officers. In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an ’emergency.’ In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for ‘national needs’ – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be deployed in the proposed base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers
“Venezuela has also become the country through which Iran intends to bypass UN sanctions. Following a new round of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic, for example, Russia decided not to sell five battalions of S-300PMU-1 air defence systems to Iran. These weapons, along with a number of other weapons, were part of a deal, signed in 2007, worth $800 million. Now that these weapons cannot be delivered to Iran, Russia is looking for new customers; according to the Russian press agency Novosti it found one: Venezuela.”
Both Iran and Venezuela are sworn enemies of the United States. So, if Iran were to deploy missiles in Venezuela that could hit American cities, it would prove to be a grave threat to the security of the United States. It would not be necessary for Iran to develop nuclear bombs; its bomb program is, in any case, stymied by the stuxmet computer worm. Chemical and/or biological weapons would suffice.
When the Soviet Union began to deploy ballistic missiles in Cuba in 1962, then-US President John F. Kennedy behaved decisively. Kennedy imposed what he called a “quarantine” around Cuba to prevent Soviet military hardware necessary to make the missiles operational and also reserved the option of an air strike and a ground invasion of that country. Despite the fact that the world came very close to nuclear war, Kennedy secured an agreement that compelled the Soviets to withdraw the missiles.
So far, however, the reaction of the Obama administration to the prospects of Iranian missiles targeting American cities from Venezuela has been passive at best. President Obama seems to prefer diplomatic actions to persuade Iran away from aggression. Clearly, that approach has not worked.
A Venezuelan Missile Crisis would test the Obama administration more than anything else so far in the less than 2-year-old presidency. So far, Obama seems to be failing that test. But then, in so many ways, people have come to realize that Barack Obama is no JFK.
The question, therefore, arises: Will President Obama realize the danger and act forthrightly before it is too late? Fortunately, Obama will have more maneuvering room with Venezuela than Kennedy had with Cuba. A military strike on Venezuela would not risk global thermonuclear war in the way a strike at Cuba in 1962 would have. Nevertheless, it would behoove the White House to find a way to nip Iranian missiles in Venezuela in the bud before the matter becomes a crisis.