U.S To Build Missile Defense Radar Station In Qatar To Counter Iranian Missiles
12:00 AM, July 17, 2012
The U.S. is setting up missile radar battery in the Middle East to counter the threat posed by Iran as it continues testing long range ballistic missiles. Earlier this month, Iran tested a surface-to-surface missile which successfully hit their targets. The so-called Shahab-3 missile is capable of reaching Israel and southern Europe. The missiles are also capable of hitting U.S. bases in the region. In an effort to protect U.S interests and allies against Iranian rockets, the Pentagon has chosen a secret site in Qatar to build a missile-defense radar station and is organizing its biggest-ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf. The new radar base will house a powerful AN/TPY-2 radar, also known as X-Band radar, and supplement two similar arrays already in place in Israel's Negev Desert and in central Turkey. In turn, the radar installations are being linked to missile-interceptor batteries throughout the region and to U.S. ships with high-altitude interceptor rockets. Forming an arc, the three radar sites together can detect missile launches from northern, western and southern Iran enabling U.S. officials and allied militaries to track missiles launched from deep inside Iran. U.S officials believe Iran could have a ballistic missile as early as 2015 that could threaten the U.S.
Qatar was chosen to host the new radar site because it is home to the largest U.S. military air base with more than 8,000 troops stationed there. According to the Pentagon, it will cost $12.2 million to construct a pad for the radar, roads, barracks and security measures at the Qatar site. The move comes after months of futile negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program although Tehran disputes claims of building nuclear weapons. Although the U.S officials say the radar site and upcoming naval exercises are defensive in nature, the move could be reflected as provocative to Iran. According to reports, the U.S. moves are intended to address the two Iranian offensive capabilities Pentagon planners most worry about: Tehran's arsenal of ballistic missiles and its threat to shut down the oil-shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz by mining them. Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced on Monday that it is sending an aircraft carrier to the Middle East several months early to ensure two carriers are present in the region at all times.