Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A U.S. anti-missile radar in Qatar

The United States began construction of a radar station on a secret site in Qatar to serve as an early warning for missile launches from Iran, said on Tuesday the Wall Street Journal.

This measure aims to "reassure Israel and other allies worried by showing that the Pentagon is taking steps to counter Iran after months of negotiations with Tehran apparently sterile on its nuclear program," the newspaper said. The early warning radar to be commissioned in Qatar should identify and track the trajectory of ballistic missiles launched from Iranian territory.

A similar radar is already deployed on Mount Keren in the Negev Desert (Israel) since 2008 and another is installed in Turkey under the NATO missile shield. These radars are coupled to interceptors aboard U.S. ships crossing in the eastern Mediterranean. NATO must also deploy other missile defense system in Poland and Romania.

The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon could deploy the THAAD missile defense system, which intercepts missiles at high altitudes, in coming months, probably in the Emirates. Tensions remain high in the Gulf and Iran. The United States has significantly strengthened its military presence in the region and it warned Tehran that any attempt to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz would be a "red line".

Washington also seeks to prevent any Israeli military action against Iran's nuclear program. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday completed a visit to Israel by a commitment to harness all resources of the United States to prevent Iran access to nuclear weapons. "We will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," she said after meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu lepPremier. The Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta should also visit Israel in the coming weeks, according to the Pentagon.

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