Iran tested a missile system the day before the start of the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Iran claims it to be one of the most advanced air defense missiles in the world, but experts are not so sure. Iran has a history of overstating their weapon’s capabilities. However, NATO is unlikely to chastise Iran in order to win the support of Turkey, who will host a NATO missile defense radar. NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO did not want to single out one country from the many that have access to missile technology that could hit NATO territory.
While NATO claims that the missile will have no impact on their summit in Lisbon, there is sure to be some behind-the-scenes discussion on how serious this new threat is. Iranian generals have been talking up the progress of the missile defense system since last year, claiming the system can detect stealth planes, helicopters and is accurate enough to intercept them at supersonic speed. Judging by Iran’s past record of talking up their weapons systems (in 2008 they strapped a number of oil barrels together to make it look like a ballistic missile) the current air-defense missile system is probably not as good as they claim.
In fact, just last month, Wired reported Iran threatened Russia with legal action if the Iranians don’t get access to Russia’s far more advanced S-300 missile system. Iranian missiles have typically been inaccurate and therefore the West has not considered them too much of a threat, the Christian Science Monitor said. Even so, Turkey, which is the closest NATO nation to the threat from Iran, may become even less keen on hosting a radar for the new NATO missile defense system if they do not have a command and control center as well.
The Obama administration, one of the leaders behind the new missile system, is unlikely to agree to have a command and control station on Turkish soil because they want control of the system and want to keep the control apparatus on a US military base in Germany.
The chest-beating by Iran may bolster Turkey’s bid to have the command and control structure in Turkey, although it is likely to be downplayed by some Eastern European nations that want Russia to be considered the biggest threat, the Global Science Newswire reported. These nations are against NATO’s outreach to Moscow over missile defense.
This week’s talks are likely to set the groundwork for further talks before a consensus can be reached on the status of the European missile defense system. Iran might have give Turkey pause for thought, but they are unlikely to put any pressure on the organization as a whole. Eastern European nations will not want Russia to be considered less of a threat, and the United States will likely play down the Iranian threat in order to keep the command center under US control.