The Arab nations of the Persian Gulf are moving toward creating an integrated regional missile defense system, an analyst with ties to officials in the Middle East said May 4.
Individual countries in the region are already spending billions on American-made Patriot Advanced Capability missiles, Theater High Altitude Area Defense systems and early warning radars for their own defenses.
Abdullah Toukan, chief executive officer of Strategic and International Risk Assessment, an advisory group based in Dubai, said heightened threat perceptions of Iran’s missile activities are spurring the move toward integrating the different systems to improve collective defense.
Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman — are within range of Tehran’s most advanced ballistic missiles, which could potentially carry nuclear warheads. Such weapons, even if equipped with conventional explosives, could help level the playing field in any conflict between Iran and the otherwise superior militaries of the GCC countries.
Although Iran’s ballistic missiles are of questionable accuracy, they can still be employed with against soft targets and cities “to inflict maximum human casualties and create terror,” Toukan said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
“Iranian missiles are the only good striking force that they have, and the concentration is in that area as we see and we hear every day,” he added.