Iran’s missiles can reach around the Gulf and they represent a “dangerous threat,” and while the United States has “good” antimissile defenses in place, they are “not sufficient,” Mark Kimmitt, a retired US general and former assistant secretary of state tells Al Arabiya in an interview.
“We have known for some time that Iran has an extremely capable set of missiles that can reach around the Gulf. They are a dangerous threat. We are monitoring them continuously. We believe that we have antimissile the defenses in place. But as we saw from the drone attacks last year, the defenses are good, but they're not sufficient,” he said.
Iran claimed on Sunday that it has built underground “missile cities” along the Gulf coastline, warning of a “nightmare” for Iran’s “enemies.”
Kimmitt said that Iran is trying to “intimidate” US allies in the Gulf: “I think what they're trying to do is intimidate the United States and intimidate our allies in the Gulf. They may believe that they can achieve through talk what they can't achieve through military action or political action.”
He added: “So we listen to it carefully. We are not fooled about the long term goals of the Iranian Republic. But we don't believe that this is any new signal that the Iranian military is any more willing to use their military this week than they were a month ago.”
Arms embargo and sanctions on Iran
The United States has been pushing to extend the arms embargo on Iran before it expires in October and Saudi Arabia urged the international community to extend it as well especially after the recent UN report which confirmed that the cruise missiles used in several attacks on oil facilities and an international airport in Saudi Arabia last year were of “Iranian origin.”
Kimmitt said that Iran’s recent rhetoric is in “anticipation” that the arms embargo and US sanctions against it will not be lifted.
“I think part of this talking that is being done by Iran is anticipation that the world community will not lift the sanctions on weapons… The belief of the United States is to continue to put sanctions pressure on Iran.”
He added that Iran may be hoping that if US Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the upcoming elections, there might be a change in US policy and that Tehran may be trying to “wait out President [Donald] Trump."
However, he stressed: “It's my strong belief that… President Trump or President Biden would be as tough on Iran because of their nuclear file. So that waiting for President Biden to come in may be a bad choice and a bad decision being made on the part of the Iranian government.”