Home inContext A Coming Missile Crisis?

A Coming Missile Crisis?

Samara Greenberg

According to a report out this week by the German daily Die Welt, Tehran is moving forward with building intermediate-range missile launch bases on Venezuela’s Paraguaná Peninsula. The same German paper broke the news last November that Iran and Venezuela signed an agreement to establish a jointly operated military base in Venezuela.

Die Welt‘s November report stated that the base in Venezuela will be manned by Iranian and Venezuelan missile officers as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) soldiers. The agreement reportedly calls for Iranian Shahab 3, Scud-B, and Scud-C missiles to be deployed on the base – missiles with a trajectory range of 177 to 932 miles. Iran has also reportedly given Venezuela permission to use the missiles in case of an “emergency,” perhaps, for instance, if Iran is attacked by Israel or the U.S. In return, Venezuela will use Iran’s facilities for “national needs,” presumably to frighten others in the region away from an alliance with the U.S. and into Venezuela’s orbit.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez.

Die Welt‘s report this week claims that engineers from the Khatam al-Anbia construction firm, owned by the IRGC, visited the peninsula in February. Present during the visit was Amir al-Hadschisadeh, the head of the Guard’s Air Force. The report also cites that Iran will be footing the bill – expected to be “dozens of millions” of dollars – with oil revenue.

If these Iranian military bases come to fruition in Venezuela, it will drastically increase America’s vulnerability to attack from its south. The question is, as it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, to what extent is the White House willing and capable of standing up to Iran, when it comes to their penetration of the Western Hemisphere?