Passport

U.S. to hold first Iran missile attack simulation

In January, the U.S. military will hold its first simulation of an attack from a long-range Iranian missile on the United States, as opposed to a North Korean one:

It also would be more difficult testing the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system against a missile that would be faster and more direct as it races toward the United States than a simulated strike from North Korea.

"Previously, we have been testing the GMD system against a North Korean-type scenario," O'Reilly said.

"This next test ... is more of a head-on shot like you would use defending against an Iranian shot into the United States. So that's the first time that we're now testing in a different scenario."

His comments came the same day that diplomats disclosed concerns among intelligence agencies that Iran tested a key atomic bomb component as recently as 2007. The finding, if proven true, would clash with Iran's assertion that its nuclear work is for civilian use.

The test would fire an interceptor missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at a simulated incoming missile, launched from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. An aide to O'Reilly estimated the cost at about $150 million.

Iran's long-range Shahab-3 missile has a maximum range of about 1,200 miles. Long enough to hit Israel or even Greece, but well-short of hitting the United States.

ALI SHAIGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Passport

What We're Reading

Preeti Aroon:  The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz. When she was naive and in her 20s, Novogratz -- No. 85 on FP’s Global Thinkers list -- went to Africa to “save the world.” She quickly learned why top-down development projects funded by rich countries fail over and over again. Her journey, narrated in first person, tells in story form what aid skeptics such as William Easterly -- No. 39 -- often explain in more abstract terms.

Elizabeth Dickison: Those following events in Guinea over the last several weeks know that things in this small West African country have been a bit rocky; Moussa Dadis Camara, head of the junta that seized power late last year, was shot by one of his fellow junta members and taken to Morocco for care – with no signs he’ll be back soon. Now, it looks like countries in the region are getting nervous. AllAfrica.com reports today, “The international community appears to be laying the ground for a West African military intervention to prevent Guinea from sliding into war and destabilizing surrounding nations.” Read on in AllAfrica’s excellent analysis.

Blake Hounshell: Jon Lee Anderson's article on Somalia in this week's New Yorker is a great follow-up to Jeffrey Gettleman's essay in last March's issue of FP, "The Most Dangerous Place in the World." Anderson gets up close and personal with Sharif Ahmed, the U.S.-backed Islamist who in theory is Somalia's president and must travel around his own besieged compound in an armored Land Cruiser.

Joshua Keating: Rutu Modan's graphic novel Exit Wounds starts with the story of a father's mysterious disappearance the wake of a suicide bombing, then takes an unexpected turn that confounds the reader's expectations for what a story about contemporary Israel should be. 

David Kenner: I’m reading the explosive (pun intended) Times of London article alleging that Iran is developing the component which would trigger the explosion of a nuclear weapon, and Dr. Jeffrey Lewis’s analysis of this news. I’m also reading the new International Crisis Group report on Syria’s “evolving strategy.” Finally, I’ve been barreling through Mohammed Shafi Agwani’s documentary study of the 1958 Lebanon crisis – but that’s a whole different can of worms.

Christina Larson: There is now a rising tide of climate-themed news articles, blog posts, tweets, press releases, emails, and RSS feeds, all trying to make sense of the ongoing climate talks at Copenhagen. (Dr. Ranjendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently gave his Mother Jones' David Corn his take: "It's all very baffling to me.") Among the most insightful is an article by the Wall Street Journal's David Sanger explaining how the "Summit Is Seen as U.S. Versus China."