Ballistic Missile Defense Strategies of the 21st Century

An old dog may not be taught new tricks, but the ailing European Union (EU) can be further economically and politically domesticated by enacting necessary reforms to address its sovereign debt crisis. Though many European governments and banks managed to emerge relatively unscathed after the 2008 financial crisis, largely by avoiding American credit markets[i], the EU does not lack its own domestically manufactured financial problems. The concern for the seventeen eurozone countries*(EZC) is managing their sovereign debt, and more importantly their ability to collectively respond to the realities of each member’s respective financial needs. There is serious uncertainty as to whether the eurozone members have the necessary political and economically integrated organizational capabilities to reconcile the euro currency’s current instability.

In 2010, Greece became the first eurozone member to shock the financial world as a result of it’s burdensome sovereign debt mixed with high levels of reckless government spending. The strongest of the eurozone members, Germany, France, and Italy, as well as the IMF responded quickly by creating a financial bail-out packages to avert a Greek default on its debt payments.[ii] As of today, Greece’s financial problems persist due to their failure to reasonably implement the terms agreed upon for the bailout, and the country is now asking for either another financial package or simply a means to ‘orderly default’. Disagreement on how to handle the Greek crisis has become so abundant within the EZC that the head of the German-based European Central Bank (ECB), Jürgen Stark, recently resigned due to “personal reasons.” After Greece, the Irish and Portuguese economies were near collapse and each country subsequently received billions of euros in bailout packages, while many fear Spain will be next in need of propping up. The major areas of concern are predominantly focused on the smaller periphery states, however this changed in July 2011 when Italy began to lose market confidence amid rumors that it would be forced to default in managing its sovereign debt, approximately 120% of its GDP. Great Britain, who has always championed its splendid isolation, warned Europe on September 22nd that it has six weeks to solve this crisis of confidence or risk another global recession.[iii]

These problems have continued to mount for the EZC largely as a result of two institutional weaknesses: First, eurozone leaders are unable to collectively agree as to what is the current next best step to address ailing markets, or where to even begin as EU suffers from ‘dispersed sovereign authority syndrome’. Arguably  somewhat like the early confederation of the American states, this ‘syndrome’ is the result of EU member states not committing to political or economic action that might be either, (a) unpopular with their voters at home, or; (b) diminish their respective domestic political and economic institutions’ influence within the EU framework. The euro currency (created and implemented as early as 1999) was introduced without the necessary institutions such as a centralized, coherent decision-making body, a treasury, and the ability to raise taxes.[iv] So even if the EZC members were in agreement as to a certain course of action, there are no formal mechanisms or procedures on which to follow and therefore would have to “make up the rules as they go along.” The development of a pre-established set of central policies and guidelines to address this and future crises would be an ideal framework for maintaining market confidence in a single currency used by various sovereign nations. EZC leaders continually fail to recognize key fundamental issues confronting the task of stabilizing the euro. For example, European leaders still have yet to admit that Greece’s financial situation is nothing other than insolvent, and; German officials are divided on how much they should use of their own money towards bailing out Greece for a second time.[v] Therefore measures must be implemented in order to salvage a unified Europe, stabilize the euro, and regain market confidence in European financial institutions.

There is No Third Way

Eurozone members must do five things without delay or potentially risk economic collapse. First, the philosophy of Jean Monnet, the ideological godfather of the EU and his improvised, incremental and technocratic approach to EU decision-makingmust be abandoned. Second, EZC members need to lose their pretenses and realistically assess the financial needs and realities of each eurozone member. Third, all relative European banks should be bolstered to deal with sovereign defaults of various EZC members. Fourth, serious macroeconomic integration within the member economies must be undertaken or risk future collapse; and fifth, EZC members should be concerned with the overall vision of Europe itself. In other words, Europe must establish protocols and enact various political reforms to ensure that a crisis like this will not happen again.

Méthode Monnet: Jean Monnet once said that, “Europe will not be built all at once, or as a single whole: it will be built by concrete achievements which first create de facto solidarity.”[vi] Yet this improvised philosophy of European unification has met its breaking point. Either the EZC must create a more centralized structure or risk losing decades of accomplishments altogether. Monnet’s méthode has created two problems that EZC members are currently grappling with: first, it alienates voters of each member country from the affairs of the European Union; and second, it creates a ‘democratic deficit’ within the system. This term, coined by British LaborMP David Marquand, describes what some say is a gap between the powers of the EU and the power of its citizens to influence EU decision-making, thus squashing any attempts at establishing democratically-functioning European institutions.[vii] For problem one, the concern is that there is no accountability in the system or potential for European voters in each country to vote-out members who have invited or exacerbated this crisis. The second problem begs the question as to whether the maximization of sovereignty strategy employed by various EU countries is the proper course towards creating a strong and unified Europe. This maintenance of sovereignty works fine in times of relative calm, but in a crisis enables inaction in the system, and paralyzes essential leadership.

Realistic Assessment: Eurozone leaders, the most influential being Germany and France, need to buckle down and make the difficult assessment that certain countries are no longer solvent. Greece is aware it is unable to realistically pay off all its sovereign debt and therefore has started requesting a way to ‘orderly default’[viii], against the wishes of some eurozone members. Ultimately, eurozone members have to realistically determine which countries are solvent and which are not. By ignoring the realities of the situation, they are setting up the certain failure of their own response to fix this situation and others like it. To rely on temporary financial measures, such as bailouts to institutions that are insolvent, is only ensuring imminent failure at some later point in time.

Keep Banks Strong: The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is a centralized fund that offers capital to banks that need shoring up. However, EZC members must further strengthen the capabilities of the fund in order to meet the financial needs of each country. Strengthening these institutions requires several measures, but the most important is a recapitalization effort for eurozone banks*, only after a more thorough stress test is conducted which should include the possibility of a Greek default and other related scenarios. This process is especially important in relation to French banks, which have lent substantial sums of money to periphery states such as Greece and Spain.[ix] Ensuring this process will enable a more responsive EFSF, and prevent European banks for experiencing the type of systematic failure that was seen in the U.S. in 2008. Doing so will also sufficiently prop up European banks so as to deal with any scenario that would otherwise deepen the crisis if left unattended.

Macroeconomic Integration: The ECB needs to play a stronger role than it already has in managing the sovereign debt crisis. The bank, based in Frankfurt, is unelectable and independent and many of its leaders fear that purchasing more Spanish and Italian bonds could damage the credibility of the young institution.[x] To further integrate the macroeconomic needs of the EZC members, as well as stave off deep concerns regarding financial instability in the region, what is needed is to have the ECB uniformly back all solvent countries. There is fear that Italy would be forced to default on its sovereign debt, not because the debt itself in insolvent, but rather due to loss of market confidence, primarily as a result of political turmoil at home.[xi] Italy, for example, has more capital on hand than Germany, easily relies on domestic lending to ensure market stability and confidence and has shown a willingness to raise taxes when necessary. Therefore when it comes to solvent countries like Italy and Spain, and given their relatively smooth capabilities to domestically reconcile market concerns,[xii] the ECB should publicly guarantee financial assistance to these countries.

The United States of Europe: the fundamental issue underlying the entire EZC crisis is a lack of confidence and strong political unity among member states. The vicious cycle witnessed thus far is the result of a non-unified approach to problem solving, and the pursuit of collective measures that do little to definitively solve the root causes. Italy’s sovereign debt arguably would have never come into question if there was a more cohesive, well-defined central body that instilled confidence in markets and investors. Nor would French banks have ever suffered as much as they have the last two months if the Greek and Spanish questions were initially solved. There are two visions that roughly emerge from this lack of a unified front between EZC members. The first is the concept of an economic government in which countries retain political sovereignty but are more economically interdependent on one another. This is especially popular with the French who wish to maintain a level of influence on par with Germany.[xiii] The second are so-called joint eurobonds that would pool together eurozone members’ resources to back up the issuing of bonds from a central European entity. This approach is not popular with the budget-efficient, and economic power-house Germany, who believes such an idea would “reduce borrowing costs to profligate”[xiv] an assessment not too wide of the mark given Europe’s financial track record.

What needs to be seen in the coming months is the conceptualization and operationalization of a framework that draws Europe closer together economicallyand politically. Maintaining each eurozone members’ sovereignty sounds comfortable and even feasible in times of economic prosperity, but this crisis has been prolonged to an extent that threatens the very existence of the European Union and the euro altogether. Eurozone members need to strengthen and increase the influence of central European mechanisms such as the EFSF, the ECB and institute new powers and organs such as a reasonable tax-raising power and a treasury to prevent future crises. There should be less emphasis placed on national sovereignty and more on a cohesive and central response; especially when the issue at hand involves a single currency. Even with a more economically interdependent Europe, which arguably, already exists, there needs to be further political integration that enables and thus guarantees that if a problem of this magnitude occurs again, eurozone members can and will act in a single front to tackle the problem. If the eurozone and its currency are to be taken seriously, and ultimately strengthened within the global economy, the old dog known as Europe must reform itself or be lost forever.

* The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Some of these countries use the euro as their national currency; others retain their traditional money but peg it to the value of the euro to lessen confusion among traders.

* Recapitalization occurs when a company changes its capital structure by exchanging preferred stock for bonds to reduce taxes or to avoid or emerge from a bankruptcy. Often, new debt (e.g., reorganization bonds) is issued to replace existing debt

[i] “Fears over French Banks: Panic in Paris” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[ii] “Europe’s Economies: Strong Core, Pain on the Periphery” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[iii] Giles, Christ, and Alan Beattie. “Global Economy Pushed to the Brink.” Financial Times. Sept. 2011.

[iv] “Charlemagne: The End of Monnet” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[v] “Europe’s Currency Crisis: How to save the Euro” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[vi] “Charlemagne: The End of Monnet” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] “Europe’s Currency Crisis: How to save the Euro” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[ix] “Fears over French Banks: Panic in Paris” The Economist. Aug. 2011.

[x] “Europe’s Currency Crisis: How to save the Euro” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[xi] “Italy: Trashing the Lifeboat” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] “Charlemagne: The End of Monnet” The Economist. Sept. 2011.

[xiv] Ibid.


These are a bunch of quick thoughts that I wrote down, and are subject to reform or expansion at a later point …..

The cooperative diplomatic participation of the United States with the regional players of South East Asia is of a relatively new phenomenon and as a result many variables and new challenges have emerged for the United States to settle as it attempts to ensure regional stability. China can no longer be pushed to the periphery of regional security developments as it advances its own military forces and technology, and smaller regional players such as the Democratic People’s Repubic Korea [DPRK] need to be responsibly addressed as the fear of nuclear proliferation rises. Further, the ballistic missile proliferation of the DPRK and the People’s Republic of China should be greatly monitored by the Missile Technology Control Regime [MTCR]. There are several consequences that result from the proliferation activity of the DPRK and China that affect not only US interests in the region, but also pose a direct threat to the national security of South Korea Japan, and potentially Vietnam, major allies and partners within the region. Therefore, several measures should be sought after to create a stable and secure environment for the United States and its allies within the region. Of these measures include:


(a)                    Continuing the Six-Party Talks to find a peaceful resolution to DPRK’s nuclear activity;

(b)                   Further efforts of joint US-Japanese ventures in ballistic missile defense [BMD] technology communication and interoperability; and

(c)                    Reform existing Japanese export law that bans any company from selling military technology or equipment to a third-party.


The United States has roughly 42,000 soldiers stationed on Japanese territory and 35,000 more stationed on the border of North and South Korea; thus these US security personnel are under a direct threat posed by the DPRK’s nuclear development and ballistic missile proliferation activity. Given the sensitive interpretational history of the Korean War by China and both Koreas, in conjunction with the current military presence maintained by the United States, it becomes conducive for all parties to utilize the existing Six-Party Talks as the most beneficial outlet to resolve this issue. It was deeply distressing to learn of the DPRK’s 2009 move to quit the talks and resume nuclear activity, naturally causing a good deal of pessimism on future success, however the talks must remain the primary tool of ensuring US and allied regional security. By retaining cooperative and stable relations with the DPRK’s neighboring countries, such as China who exerts some influence on the DPRK at times, allows the US to further contain North Korean nuclear advances.


The United States Department of Defense has issued the Phased Adaptive Approach [PAA] strategy to target current and potential future ballistic missile threats. The PAA calls for the use of developing Aegis BMD intercepting technology that is installed on navy vessels and easily adaptable and mobile to any concentration of a potential threat. In addition to the joint venture of developing the technology, the Japanese and US security personnel are pursuing the enhancement of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) approach, which utilizes the integration of command and control systems that operate and oversee the functionality and execution of the BMD systems. A faster and more efficient form of communication is a necessary quality of defense technology in an age where threats emerge quickly and in a region where security threats presented by the DPRK regime and China are in no short supply.


The current Aegis BMD technology is in transition as the US and Japan implement the next-generation advancements of the systems. As a result, the first-generation equipment shouldn’t be disregarded, bur rather put to use to protect allies and partners within the region from the DPRK’s conventional and nuclear threats. Japan previously had a full-out ban on weapons export to any country, but in 1983 relaxed it to allow export with the United States. In a 2005 agreement, Japan relaxed the export law to allow missile interceptors to be deployed by both countries. Japan however, will have to reform the law once again in order to re-export to third parties the SM-3 Block IIA [Aegis BMD technology]. Third parties would potentially include South Korea who is seeking to further its means to defend its homeland against ballistic missile attacks from the DPRK. If Japan commits to this export reform it will greatly enhance regional deterrence as well as help secure an ally in the region against the aggressive stance of the DPRK.


The Six-Party Talks will ensure a useful interlocutor for the US to the DPRK regime, as well as foster the necessary stable relations with the country’s surrounding neighbors, such as China. In order to deter the immediate threat posed by the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity, the US should seek to enhance its deterrence capabilities alongside its allies; and to find affordable and appropriate measures to supply and secure its allies homelands who are under direct threat and are home to tens of thousands of United States military personnel.




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the nature [and at times historical behavioral trends] of regional actors in East Asia and how the US should formulate a security strategy to promulgate our interests along side those of our allies and partners in the region. As the societies and cultures of the globe begin to evolve into the 21st century paradigm, our strategies also need to evolve in conjunction with the new constraints and possibilities of that paradigm. Three fundamental “building blocks” must secure and guide the specifics of any new security strategy of the United States and its allies;

  1. Increase the scope of US cooperative partnerships with current peripheral nations in order to ensure mutual domestic and international interests are secure as well as enhanced;
  2. Identify potential threats to the United States and its Allies’ homeland and security interests; and collectively work toward discouraging and finding solutions to deter the source of all perceived threats;
  3. Augment existing US alliances and partnerships based on mutual domestic and security issues, as determined by regional trends and consideration.

A good strategy is a good guide, but it must be allowed to constantly adapt and be flexible, especially in light of the attitudes and forces that shape East Asian political norms. The current events of our 21st century political and security paradigm are becoming increasingly integrated with the proliferation of not just various weapons, but also information in the real time. As information is available faster and able to reach any part of the globe instantaneously, security strategies can become heavily bogged down by such capabilities, but given the right application of such technology, strategies will be greatly enhance by it instead. It becomes imperative therefore that the United States formulate an amalgam of strategies that together effectuate a position that ensures their national interests as well as the interests of its allies and partners in the region.

In East Asia, the United States has a variety of regional cooperative relationships that have been fostered out of decades of mutual history and collaborative reciprocity. By further developing partnerships with peripheral states, a greater cooperative dynamic is manifested into the overarching regional policy agenda, ultimately enhancing the efficacy and outreach of that strategy. Augmenting the existing alliances and partnerships allow the core foundation of US-East Asian policy to function on a more consistent and reliable basis toward any threat [in existence or anticipated]. Identifying all immediate and long-term threats within the region assists in responsibly shaping strategy and the overall vision of US-East Asian security policy to meet the regional security dynamic. What is more, special attention should be given to the amount of influence China has over the region of East Asia. The United States maintains the position that China is an important partner for the future, and seeks to continue building collaborative and cooperative relationships. There are however, considerable security concerns stemming from Chinese actions [such as claiming much of the South China Sea as apart of Chinese territory] in which a US-East Asian security policy must responsibly address; this notion will be discussed at greater length throughout the paper.

These goals are to be achieved by applying various methods, such as (a) enhancing regional economic development, augment security cooperation and promote research information sharing with peripheral states; (b) devising further approaches of enhanced communication and interoperability with Allies and partners on security and intelligence issues; and (c) forecasting visible and anticipated threats in order to appropriately focus and develop technology and organizational capabilities of regional players to successfully and consistently reconcile any security concern. The succeeding sections of this paper will go into further detail and elaboration on the various aforementioned approaches, and how collectively these various strategies will effectuate a US-East Asian policy that ensures a stable, secure and more productive region for all players involved.

Regional Players and Historical Background

The most delicate balance regarding US strategic security planning within East Asia has been centered on China and its capabilities of regional influence. Throughout China’s extensive and continued existence spanning thousands of years, the nation has considered itself the “center” of the surrounding regional populations and has formulated its foreign policy as a tributary system focused on its power center, Beijing. The history between China and its East Asian neighbors such as Vietnam, Japan, Mongolia and Korea [even Russia] has produced a contemporary picture of great complexity to the regional political order.

Japan has historically practiced a substantial level of political autonomy and freedom from Chinese influence given its geopolitical position [historically respective to other neighboring populations of China]. It began to administer its own unique tributary foreign policy strategy similar to China. Both centers of power have largely flexed this ideological and political muscle within the strategic geopolitical areas of Korea and over a number of islands located within the various bodies of water connecting the two, with emphasis on the island of Taiwan. The Korean peninsula had always constituted a strategic geopolitical imperative for any power center. It is an ideal location for an offensive power to invade [or apply pressure to] Mainland China, which is exactly what Japan had attempted to do and later succeeded in doing during World War I [a position it maintained until the end of the Second World War]. The Soviet Union had spent a considerable amount of time attempting to secure access to vital ports and locations within the peninsula and the surrounding area for these strategic purposes, but always found such endeavors something of an albatross.

Similarly, Vietnam had for almost a thousand years adopted and subjugated itself to Chinese political order and cultural influence. In the year 907 it had become predominantly independent and has since fought and established complete autonomy over its land, while attempting to utilize the Chinese style of tributary governance over its neighbors, yet has been relatively unsuccessful. The history and interaction between the regional players of East Asia has been greatly influenced by the Chinese political tributary culture. The source of conflict between these players has arisen only when one player has grown in sufficient political autonomy and strength to potentially counter the other [yet the purpose was rarely for conquest but political and cultural influence]. When regarding the most effective formulation of US-East Asian security strategy, the historical and behavioral trends of the regional players must play a large role in understanding and anticipating the regional actors’ future decision-making.

The general foreign policy strategy of each regional player has been characterized by a vastly different strategic approach to that of traditional Western experiences.[1] With the historical exceptions of contemporary Japan, East Asian populations have practiced a philosophy that the world could never be conquered; that only the wise would wish to harmonize with its trends. A significant quality of the East Asian countries’ foreign policy strategy is not its emphasis on conquest but of psychological dominance. If US-East Asian security strategy is to be effective in the region, it must seek to ensure the individual actor’s interpretation of the US strategy as something that will not give the later a material or psychological disadvantage. It must attempt to give the illusion of harmony, while offering the United States and its allies the strategic initiative, relative to the other players in the region.

Peripheral Regional Players and Cooperative Assessments

The first “building block” of a US-East Asian security strategy outlined in this paper is to,

  • Increase the scope of US cooperative partnerships with current peripheral nations in order to ensure mutual domestic and international interests are secure as well as enhanced.

Reaffirming the international respect of the Charter of the United Nations especially pertaining to sovereignty, sovereign equality and national independence of states; the US should be highly committed to fostering a more collaborative and cooperative relationship with the various regional actors to ensure their continued sovereign existence as nations. As China’s economic and military influence becomes more prominent in the region, neighboring countries may potentially grow wary of Chinese intentions. Thus, the United States should help balance these forces by demonstrating to the smaller peripheral nations the benefits of US cooperation on several levels such as, but not limited to, the enhancement of existing bilateral free trade agreements and research information sharing.

Free trade and the movement of goods across East Asia’s waterways should be a high priority in order to actualize such cooperative agreements. By maintaining an assertive stance on ensuring free trade and protecting the essential waterways that guarantee it, the US will demonstrate to our potential and existing partners its seriousness to defend the regional interests of all players. A vital water route that is crucial to maintaining this level of international and regional free trade is concentrated within the Malacca Straight between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. As opposed to the strategic Suez Canal, which oversees annually 8% of the world’s international trade, the Malacca Straight commands roughly 40%, with more than fifty thousand ships passing through each year. In addition to free trade agreements, research and information sharing have become crucial elements necessary for economic growth as wells establishing trust with regional players, as is the case with Malaysia.

Therefore Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia possess a number of qualities that will benefit a US strategic initiative in East Asia. These economies are (1) robust, productive and growing; (2) surround the Malacca Straight that oversees 40% of the world’s total international trade, and; (3) are dependent upon more developed and stable nations to assist them in enabling their economies and populations to grow to their full potential. As these countries seek further development and higher levels of trade between their existing partners [the US being Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s third largest trading partner, and Singapore’s first] the US should provide opportunities that would give it a competitive edge within the nations’ economies over that to China. Such policies should be sought after while preserving our strategic and balanced diplomatic relationship with the China.

What is important about the countries of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia is their visible diversity regarding ethnicity and religion. This will be important for the United States to emphasize when furthering cooperative partnerships with these countries, which is directly representative of its national values and principles. In order to enhance the cooperative ties with Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, a policy should be focused on the following qualities;

  1. Advance previously existing trade agreements and memorandums to achieve greater economic activity between the US and the individual countries; and,
  2. Create direct bilateral talks with each nation to find a consensus on the plausibility of establishing academic and research institutions to satisfy the need for cooperative information and facility sharing, and
  3. Create multinational conferences/seminars focused on the immediate social and security issues of all the parties involved.

In 2010, the United States and Malaysia signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Science and Technology Cooperation. The memorandum has paved the way for the US and Malaysia to recognize the need to work jointly in the field of science and technology and to directly assist each other in this discipline. It should be the policy of the United States, in order to establish greater cooperation and trust, to pursue more robust trade agreements and joint research ventures of this nature. As stated by Article I of the US-Malaysian memorandum, the purpose of the document is to “strengthen scientific and technological capabilities of the Parties” and to “promote and develop cooperation in the field of science and technology…on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.” The memorandum is important for the follow reasons,


  1. It establishes greater cooperation and trust between nations [potentially allowing for greater collaborative use of strategic military or naval facilities],
  2. Enables our partners to be more technologically independent and capable of assisting in strategic economic and security policies within the region [i.e. continued economic growth and trade, and responsibly securing the Malacca Straight by enhanced US partnerships], and,
  3. Allows a more competitive partnership to exist between the United States and East Asian countries in respect to China.

The United States and Singapore have a strong strategic bond. Singapore has allowed the Untied States the benefit of using a number of its naval facilities and therefore has become a strategic asset when helping to balance Chinese progressions within the South China Sea to the North of the country. Singapore is greatly benefited by the US’ assistance and access to military training and information while the US is guaranteed a reliable and trusted partner within the immediate region. When contemplating further economic and technology integration with Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore will be an invaluable mentor through such a process.

According to a World Bank analysis of 2009, the quality of tertiary education in Malaysia would benefit from a number of initiatives.  From the numerous recommendations offered, a few were to simplify the review of academic standards and offer more courses in English, which is in high demand by students and firms.[i] Additionally it indicated that Indonesia’s secondary education is suffering from an enrollment level hovering around 64%. Therefore, given the highly regarded nature of American academic and research institutions, it would be more efficient to discuss the creation of an American University in Kuala Lumpur, and the other capitol[s] of Singapore and Indonesia. Committing to this policy would allow a greater and more direct form of cooperation between the countries. The US would be in an advantageous position to offer valuable insight and organizational capabilities to assist in reforming educational and research facilities appropriately to accurately address the specific needs of each country. Further, it would greatly assist with the high demand of courses needed to be offered in English and would encourage direct interaction between American academic personnel and students.

Additionally, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is extensive in Malaysia and Singapore but also widely throughout the East Asian “Tiger Economies”. The creation of an American University within the various nations would further the trust and enticement of direct investment in any East Asian country which decided upon that path. In the case with Malaysia, the US was the largest foreign investor with $1.9 billion in 2000, followed by Japan with $758 million.[ii] Given Japan’s strategic alliance with the United States this has a larger cooperative effect for not only the United States but also its other partners throughout the region. More direct economic stimulation and investment can also ensure the third initiative of a strategy [multinational conferences] toward these three strategic countries. Singapore and its neighbor countries within the Malacca Straight face a severe problem with piracy, which greatly impacts the economic and security situations of each country.[iii] Holding multi-party conferences on such important topics such as regional piracy would establish better trust, information sharing and security cooperation through means of a common dialogue and implementation of technology and capabilities to collectively combat the criminal activity. A strategic security policy has to be built from workable relationships and trust; by enabling the smaller yet vital countries to grow and develop with US assistance will only yield greater and more fruitful results as the various issues develop in the region.

Emerging Threats and Strategic Responses  

A major source of insecurity within East Asia is centered on the proliferation and development of ballistic missile technology and nuclear capabilities of various regional actors. Today, China has the capability to conduct a large-scale ballistic missile attack on the territory of the United States, however it may be reasonably concluded [for the time being] that this is very unlikely. The US is in the process of advancing their GMD systems appropriately and the focus therefore should be toward the threat implications of US allies and partners within the immediate region. As the US Department of Defense has outlined in its Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) of February 2010,

“Ballistic missile systems are becoming more flexible, mobile, survivable, reliable, and accurate while also increasing in range. Pre-launch survivability is also likely to increase as potential adversaries strengthen their denial and deception measures and increasingly base their missiles on mobile platforms.”

China is increasingly asserting influence within the region, resulting in an imbalance of power across the Taiwan Straight potentially in China’s favor, [China is even claiming extensive and distant parts of the South China Sea as part of its sphere of influence, claiming it is inherently part of their existing territory, which poses direct problems toward Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia]. The Straight of Taiwan has been the source of two conflicts within the past century and therefore the US should delicately balance the interests concerning the waterway in order to prevent a repeat of history.[iv] As the BMDR states on Chinese ballistic missile capabilities,

“It [China] is developing advanced ballistic missile capabilities that can threaten its neighbors, and anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) capabilities that can attempt to target naval forces in the region. China continues to field very large numbers of conventionally armed medium-range systems. Moreover, China has upgraded programs for command and control, communications, intelligence, and other related force capabilities, and continues to develop SRBMs, MRBMs, and IRBMs. These missiles are key components of Beijing’s military modernization program. Chinese missiles will be capable of reaching not just important Taiwan military and civilian facilities but also US and allied military installations in the region.”

Throughout the recent existence of “open relations” between the United States and China, the Shanghai and Third Communiqués have sought to mutually reconcile, peacefully [the US position], the Taiwan issue. What is a sobering fact is China’s 1,600 conventionally armed ballistic missiles currently pointed toward the island of Taiwan.[v] The United States, as stated in the Shanghai and Third Communiqués, seeks a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan issue, yet time and again China has responded with a lack of commitment to such a final proposal and has taken a rather patient, yet diligent approach toward the issue [as exclusively a Chinese internal affair]. To help promote a meaningful and productive resolution to this contentious issue, further mutual diplomatic understands [based on the style of previous Communiqués] should be continued within the 21st century context. This will help the US contain and better understand Chinese actions, and offer the People’s Republic of China a better grasp of the renewed American approach to Taiwan.

In addition to China’s military modernization program, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over the past decade has been developing short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles that threaten US forces, allies, and partners in the region. The DPRK has conducted seven ballistic missile launches since July 4-5, 2006. Of these tests, it launched six mobile theater ballistic missiles; undeniably demonstrating its capacity to target US and allied forces deployed in South Korea and Japan. The US and its allies find it increasingly alarming that the DPRK currently is seeking to develop a mobile IRBM, while simultaneously pursuing a nuclear weapons program. A dominant quality in the region is the speed in which ballistic missile technology is being manufactured and advanced; and therefore the US security strategy should commit to the second two points outlined in the paper’s general overview: (1) to identify and reconcile immediate and long-term threats, as well as (2) augment existing alliances and partnerships in that mutual effort.

The Obama administration, after careful analysis and consideration by the Department of Defense and other security officials, has reformulated the previous proposed strategy initiated by the Bush administration in 2007. In 2009, the current administration proposed and adopted the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA).  Given the growing capabilities of the emerging threats and the necessity of constant adaption to the continually developing security needs of US allies and partners in East Asia; the PAA will focus on the following initiatives;

  1. Continue to defend against regional missile threats to US forces, while protecting allies and partners and enabling them to defend themselves,
  2. Before new capabilities are deployed, they must undergo testing that enables assessment under realistic operational conditions,
  3. The commitment to new capabilities must be fiscally sustainable over the long term,
  4. US BMD capabilities must be flexible enough to adapt to specific and sudden changes within the region, and
  5. The US will seek to lead expanded international efforts for missile defense.

This current US security policy ensures that the remaining two “building blocks” of a coherent and adaptable strategy is guaranteed toward the ballistic missile threats present within the region.

As mentioned previously, and in reference to point (a) above, the US soldiers stationed in Japan cause serious concern for the United States. The US has over 40,000 soldiers in Japan and a substantial amount of them are within reach of Chinese and DRPK ballistic missile threats. Over half of those stationed troops in Japan are on the island of Okinawa, and is a great source of Japanese domestic tension [the bases are rather unpopular on the island]. In 2006, there was a plan devised that would relocate the flashpoint Futenma base out of the crowded urban area of the island and to a more remote spot on Okinawa. US Defense Secretary Gates and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa have gone on to state that, “the current relocation plan is the most operationally viable and politically sustainable way forward.” Therefore a comprehensive pubic relations and diplomatic effort should be coordinated with Japan and the officials from Okinawa to ease tensions and allow for a smooth transition to implement the plan recently “renewed” upon by Gates and Kitazawa.

The methods to ensure a beneficial conclusion to the US base problem in Japan would be to enact (1) an outreach policy by both Japanese and US military personnel to the governing officials of Okinawa; (2) stress the strategic importance of the island and how it is necessary for regional balance and collective security; and (3) offer “sweeteners” to the local inhabitants in the island in an attempt to offer concessions for the continuance of the military base presence. Augmenting existing collaborative facility and equipment sharing between various US allies and partners should be administered by means of (1) Japanese relaxation of defense technology exports to pre-determined “friendly” regional partners, through machinations of bilateral trade agreements, and; (2) increase multilateral cooperative talks of strategically important actors [including China] to enhance communication, cooperation and effectuate greater coordination in securing the region.

Hedging Against Future Uncertainties in East Asia

Greater cooperation of shared facilities for military and intelligence collaboration between Japan, South Korea and other strategic East Asian actors should be a constant focus of US strategic security efforts and would help hedge against future threats [foreseen and unseen]. The benefit of pursuing a PAA plan allows for greater reliability on the capabilities and adaptability of the BMD technology within the region as threats progress. Japan is an indispensible partner when posturing an East Asia BMD security strategy. The US and Japan have performed exceptionally well together, seeking cooperation and interoperability in support of bilateral missile defense initiatives against the threat emerging from the DPRK. An important feature of the US and Japan’s current collaborative alliance is the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) approach, which utilizes the integration of command and control systems that operate and oversee the functionality and execution of the BMD systems. How then, and by what means [near term] should the US, Japan and South Korea collaborate to deter ballistic missile threats from the DPRK?

One of the core collaborative efforts between Japan and the United States is through the development of SM-3 Block IIA and IIB [as well as newly advanced SM models] ballistic missile defense systems. The PAA is an overarching BMD strategy that relies heavily of establishing a legitimate and stable form of deterrence against immediate ballistic missile threats. The US has already determined that “because of the demand for missile defense assets within each region over the next decade will exceed supply, the US will develop capabilities that are mobile and relocatable.” This will allow the BMD systems to have the ability to move from one area of the region to another in a time of crisis. The capacity for surge defense should help dissuade existing and potential aggressor states within the region that there can be no gain of any long-term advantage. How then do we ensure that an immediate “surge defense” is within the US and its allies’ capabilities?

The SM-3 BMD systems, or Aegis Weapons System, is a combination of advanced technology that allows for the tracking and intercepting short and medium-range ballistic missiles. As outlined in the BMDR, “The Aegis system offers not only the ability to provide surveillance and tracking [by means of AN/TPY-2 X-band radar] of ballistic missiles but also an upper-tier missile defense capability in the form of SM-3 Block IA interceptor”. These interceptors would be stationed upon navy vessels and deployed into the appropriate bodies of water that allow for adequate defense of regional allies and partners [i.e. South Korea and Japan]. This would allow their maneuverability in case a threat is increased or becomes concentrated in a single area. Figure 1.1 below outlines the general manner in which the Aegis system will detect, track and neutralize any offensively launched ballistic missile toward an ally, partner or peaceful regional actor;

Figure 1.1

The United States is currently investing as much as $45 billion into ballistic missile defense technology over a five-year period. The technology will have the responsible amount of funding to design, test and implement any advances for existing Aegis and relative BMD technology to existing applications. The mobility of the Aegis technology and its primary nature of being [currently] a sea-based BMD system allows for greater security for American aircraft carriers who have recently been the focus of a Chinese announcement regarding their development of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). While the US regards China as a partner of the future to help promulgate policies of peace, this current ballistic missile development trend of China has others, such as Admirable Robert F. Willard, skeptical.[vi] As the US works diplomatically with China as an equal partner to solve security issues, the Aegis technology will allow for the immediate safeguard of US and allied vessels and personnel within the region.

Further, Japan should take measures to alleviate domestic restrictions on allowing export of SM-3 IIA technology to third parties [solely to friendly countries] in order to bolster a greater BMD defense around their country [such as with South Korea]. In 1967, Japan implemented a series of laws banning the export of weapons to communist bloc countries, countries subject to U.N. arms embargoes, or countries involved in or likely to become involved in international conflicts. Ten years later, it extended the ban to weapons-related technology, however later relaxed this restriction in 1983 to allow export to the U.S. only. In 2005, Japan further relaxed the law to include missile interceptors to be deployed by both the US and Japan.[vii] The restrictions however, still make it impossible for Japan to re-export to third parties and so therefore, these restrictions will have to be modified in order to expand defense technology and capabilities to allied and trusted partners.

Lastly, the US should continue to consult, hold direct bilateral talks with all necessary and related officials on the nature and extent of the tsunami damage. The various forms of bilateral conferences and US consultations are advantageous to pursue for the following reasons;

  1. They reaffirm the US’ commitment to the wellbeing and security of its ally;
  2. Will foster further trust among the two nations, and;
  3. It is in the best interests in regards to mutual strength and cooperation to have Japan be a independently sustainable and strong nation.

Therefore the following regarding BMD should be pursued by the US in conjunction with its allies to ensure a strategic advantage is ensured against all existing and potential missile threats;

  • Responsibly implement Aegis Weapons System technology [and related equipment] within the Japanese territorial areas to establish a reasonable deterrence to the DPRK threat;
  • Resolve the Okinawa US military base dilemma to alleviate pressure on a vital regional security presence;
  • Consult Japan on the potential benefits of restricting re-export of BMD technology to friendly third parties;
  • Continue efforts to increase the interoperability and communication of the US and Japan through the ALTBMD, and;
  • Reaffirm our partnerships by providing consultation and material assistance to Japan for their ongoing tsunami and nuclear crisis.


The region of East Asia and its political paradigm has been cultivated by thousands of years of mutual history between its current actors. The United States and Chinese partnership will be crucial for the region’s immediate and future security needs [and therefore should continue], however serious consideration to Chinese military activity in contrast to their diplomatic rhetoric much be closely analyzed. As China’s military modernization increases, and peripheral nations become potentially wary of Chinese regional intentions [as currently visible in the South China Sea], then the US should initiate a security strategy that focuses on demonstrating the benefits of US collaboration. Further, the US should continue to augment existing alliances and partnerships with regional actors such as Japan and South Korea to reconcile the ballistic missile threats indentified by the DPRK and various components of the Chinese ballistic missile developments.

This delicate balance to protect our troops stationed in Japan and South Korea while deterring immediate and future ballistic missile threats is in the interests of all actors within the region, but also for the United States. Further collaboration and integration of allies in the ALTBMD systems as well as development of Aegis technology is a high priority and necessary to ensure responsible and capable security. The time is now to demonstrate the values and principles of the US to East Asia in order to enhance security and ensure the sovereignty of all regional actors.


[1] A principal difference between Chinese (and ultimately East Asian) and Western diplomatic strategy is the reaction to perceived vulnerability. Western diplomats move carefully to avoid provocation; Chinese response is more likely to magnify defiance. Western diplomats tend to conclude from an unfavorable balance of forces an imperative for a diplomatic solution; they urge diplomatic initiatives to place the other side of the “wrong” to isolate it morally but to desist from the use of force. Chinese believe in deterrence in the form of preemption. [Kissinger, Henry. On China . New York: Penguin Press, 2011. Print. Page – 348]

[i] Yusuf, Shahid, and Kaoru Nabeshima. Tiger economies under threat: a comparative analysis of Malaysia’s industrial prospects and policy options. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2009. Print.

[ii] Kehl, Jenny Rebecca. Foreign investment & domestic development: multinationals and the state. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2009. Print.

[iii] “Singapore alerts ships to piracy threat –” Latest news, Latest News Headlines, news articles, news video, news photos – N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2010. <;.

[iv] Kissinger, Henry. On China . New York: Penguin Press, 2011. Print.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] “China has carrier-killer missile, U.S. admiral says – Washington Times.” Washington Times – Politics, Breaking News, US and World News. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2011. <;.

[vii] 07:29, PAUL KALLENDER-UMEZU Published: 27 May 2011. “Japan Considers Export of SM-3 Block IIA Missiles – Defense News.” Defense News – Breaking International Defense News. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2011. <;.

I came across a blogger who put the issue of BMD bluntly and therefore commend their attempt to demonstrate the nature of the BMD systems being pursued by NATO and the United States in Eastern Europe. The BMD is just that, defensive, and is sought after to intercept offensive ballistic missiles that have been launched toward our Homeland and/or Allies’ Homeland, therefore the bluster coming from Medvedev’s mouth needs to be collectively addressed by the international community,

Russia helps propel the threat that is causing the BMD systems to be sought after (by helping the Iranian ballistic missile defense industry) and therefore cries fowl prematurely and illegitimately in that, if it did not want the BMD to rest in Eastern Europe it should not have advanced the threat that made it a reality….

Here is a video that offers a visual demonstration on the nature of the BMD,

More to come later.

The following is just an “outloud” thought process and will be more neatly formulated at a later date (note, not all Iranian missiles are mentioned) ;


The statements of bluster seen on the Russian front against the ballistic missile defense programs prepared for Eastern Europe by the United States and its partners addresses the serious misinterpretation of Russian views of outside military activity in relation to its nation’s security. It also completely misses the fundamental reason why such missile defense programs are currently being pursued by American and European security apparatuses; not to counter the Russian Federation, but rather the Islamic Republic of Iran and its domestic programs related to ballistic missile development.

Regarding the Iranian Defense program there are five major areas of investment the regime heavily utilizes;

  1. Precision-Strike Munitions
  2. Naval Anti-Ship Weapons Development
  3. Ballistic Missile Development
  4. Development of a Space Program
  5. Military Nuclear Development
In addition, studying the design and current transactions/purchases of these weapons (something the Iranian regime attempts to hide in their export filings), makes the inevitable conclusion that much of the military technology they utilize and develop is from foreign sources and not a pure Iranian creation. The major players that cooperatively work to help develop and trade defensive as well as offensive weapons to the Iranian regime are the following;
  • Russia
  • China
  • North Korea
There are other countries that assist in the overall developmental process of Iranian defense technologies however, as mentioned these are the major players within the industry. For the purpose of this posting, I will restrict the rest of the analysis and information to ballistic missiles, however I want to reiterate that most of the weapons currently being pursued and developed by the Iranian regime are defensive in nature to counter an invasion to their territory, however, within the recent years there has been considerable activity related to military technology of an extreme offensive nature. Iran has relentlessly pursued defensive technology in order to achieve comfortable maneuvering ability to pursue (over the long term) offensive weapons that threaten the security of its distant neighbors such as Turkey, Central Europe and Eastern Europe, even the United States.
Iranian Ballistic Missiles:

The Iranian military apparatus has the current capacity to use the following missile types:
  • Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs)
  • Heavy Tactical Rockets
  • Continental-Range Ballistic Missiles (CRBMs)
The defensive ballistic missiles are the heavy tactical and SRBMs, while the CRBMs are the current items that pose a serious offensive threat to that of Central and Easter Europe as well as Russia and China, however due to their highly cooperative nature toward the Iranain missile program as well as Iran’s dependency upon their friendship to further their missile technology, the threat is most likely targeted toward the United States and its allies within the European region.
According to the Arms Control Association,


  • Ballistic Missiles: Iran is the only country not in possession of nuclear weapons to have produced or flight-tested ballistic missiles with ranges exceeding 1,000 kilometers. The Iranian missile program is largely based on North Korean and Russian designs and has benefited from Chinese technical assistance. Iran has one of the largest deployed ballistic missile forces in the Middle East, with some missiles capable of covering ranges up to 2,000 kilometers.
Iran’s most sophisticated operational ballistic missile is the liquid-fueled Shahab-3, which has a range of about 1,300 kilometers. Iran has made progress in developing and testing solid fueled missile technologies, which could significantly increase the mobility of Iran’s missile force. Since November of 2008, Iran has conducted a number of test-launches of a two-stage solid fuel-propelled missile, the Sajjil-2, which has a reported range of about 2,000 kilometers. Iran has also developed a two stage, liquid-fueled, space launch vehicle, the Safir and placed a small satellite in orbit using this system Feb. 2, 2009.
Heavy Tactical Rockets:

The Iranian regime has given the following missiles to the militant Lebanese group, Hezbollah (and were used against Israel in 2006);
  • Fajer 3
  • Fajer 5
  • Zalzal
The Fajer 3/5 are small tactical rockets that evade radar and strike troop concentration. These rockets are used predominantly to counter invading forces and are purely defensive in nature given their overall function and capacity. The Zalzal are unguided rockets and therefore their accuracy is rather limited as a result. In the recent term Iran has pursued the development of a Zalzal 2 rocket that is a guided missile and capable of being more accurate toward a specific grouping of personnel and has the overall range of 200 km. Another guided tactical rocket is the Fatah 110 and is of the same military nature as the Zalzal 1 and 2, defensive. These weapons have been rather successful and therefore pose a serious risk if the Iranian regime decides to increase its export of these missiles to what it deems, “friendly” nations. In fact, there has been recent announcement from Tehran that it plans to do just this, however Iranian promotion of ballistic missile proliferation has been understood and recognized for quite some time and is merely a public relations ploy to undermine the Western powers (Iran heavily utilizes psychological warfare techniques).
Continental-Range Ballistic Missiles:
The most heavily utilized and produced Iranian CRBM is the Shahab 2 and Shahab-3, and in recent developments the Shahab-3ER, an upgraded version of the Shahab-3. In addition to the Shahab-3, a prototype based on the North Korean No Dong and Huasong S missiles (to which North Korea also sold Iran the missile production line), the Iranian regime has come into possession (that is clearly not publicly understood as to how) of 18 BM25 land-mobile CRBMs based off the SSN6 Soviet design. The Shahab-3 has a range of 1,300 km (Turkey and Israel) while the new Shahab-3ER has an increased range by 700 km which will allow Iran to reach Central and Eastern Europe. These CRBMs are highly capable of reaching the allies of the United States and so therefore the United States and its European counterparts have responded in kind to counter the emerging Iranian ballistic missile threat.
Cruise Missiles:

According to the Arms Control Association:
Cruise Missiles: Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko confirmed in 2005 that Iran illegally procured six Kh-55 cruise missiles from Ukraine four years earlier. The Kh-55 is an air-launched nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers. Iran also has acquired a variety of Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles.
An interesting thing to note is that Western officials are perplexed as to how Iran was able to smuggle these designs and missiles outside Ukraine and into Iran without detection and therefore has resulted in heightened security concerns not just with Iran but also with Russia as well.
Concluding Thoughts:
The ballistic missile development of the Iranian regime is highly developed, and likely the most developed of any third world country pursuing ballistic missiles of any kind. What causes more concern for the United States and its allies is the disregard for global security concerns by Russia, North Korea and China who continue to supply Iran with technology and information to help advance the Iranian ballistic missile program, despite their “pursuit” of Western led UN-efforts to halt Iranian activities, most importantly with their nuclear development program.
As a result of the advanced nature of the Iranian ballistic missile program, the United States and its European counterparts have decided to pursue a strategy that would help alleviate the direct threat of their region by Iranian activity. The latest development within this process has been the revised ballistic missile defense system proposed by the Obama administration, called the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) plan. Iran poses a serious rising threat and has continued to defy cooperative measures to ensure the security of the international community. What’s more, its advanced ballistic missile program, capable of delivering missiles 2,000 km from its borders is worrisome due to the advanced and secretive nature of its nuclear weapons program that has been propelled by Sino-Russian intelligence and assistance.
So when you hear Russia claim the PAA is a direct threat to Russian security, its pure bluster, its objective is to take away attention from the true nature and activity of the ballistic missile threat of Europe and the United States stemming from the military activity within the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The current focus of the UNSC should be to find ways to curb Chinese relations with the Iranian regime, and enact measures that will convince China that not doing business in Iran is in their national as well as in the international interest. China is no longer a nation that can be rationally ignored or pushed to the periphery when contemplating an effective international policy or action. Their relatively rising economy and their subsequent need to maintain and continue the growth of their economy has resulted in China seeking business with any nation that can help them achieve this goal.[i] Not only is China present within the Iranian energy sector, but has established understandings and cooperative agreements that could lead to future Sino-Iranian energy partnerships that would completely undermine the entire international policy toward the Iranian regime. In order to fulfill the first requirement of an effective policy toward the Iranian nuclear program, reconciling Chinese relations and concerns with Iran must be sought after in order to create a unified organ to combat Iran’s apparent belligerence for international norms and security.

In a Reuters article of May 23 there seems to be a re-emergence of the Sino-Iranian issue to the forefront of international speculation and concern;

Speaking in English, Salehi also told an audience of researchers and diplomats that China could trust Iran as a stable supplier of oil to fuel its rapidly growing economy.

The Iranian foreign minister’s visit comes as Western governments continue to press his country over its disputed nuclear ambitions, highlighting China’s importance as an economic and diplomatic buffer for Tehran.

“We said we are ready to receive experts from China, nuclear experts, to come and visit our nuclear installations in Iran,” Salehi said, describing his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

“Rarely any country in the world opens up its nuclear facilities and institutes to the outside world, but since we are certain of the peacefulness of our nuclear activity, we have extended this invitation to a friendly country like China,” said Salehi, who previously ran Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation.

Salehi appeared to renew something like the offer that Iran made in January to open its nuclear sites to envoys from Russia, China, the European Union and other governments.

In June 2010, the UNSC condemned the Iranian regime for its continual commitment to enrich uranium.[i] European governments, as a response of publicly learning of the Iranian nuclear program in 2002, established a delegation the following year (EU-3), consisting of members from Great Britain, France, Germany and the European Union to initiate diplomatic engagement to Iran with the goal of halting the Iranian enrichment of uranium, it failed miserably.[ii] With the condemnation this past June, the international tone changed when the UNSC member states enacted a wide array of strict new sanctions, including an arms embargo and tough restrictions on Iranian banks and the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) [note that the IRGC’s sole purpose is to protect the values and continue the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and is not affiliated at all with the Iranian regular army].[iii] Further, UNSC Resolution 1929 also alleviated previous restrictions on individual nations to enact their own form of economic sanctions on Iran, therefore allowing a greater effect of the collective sanctions placed upon the Iranian economy.[iv] To name only a few states, Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea, and the European Union have implemented unprecedented measures upon the Iranian economy and limiting investment in Iran. Lastly, the United States Congress passed new sanctions against any company selling gasoline to Iran or investing in Iran’s refining capacity.[v]

Altogether, these measures have resulted in a tremendous and hard-felt burden on the Iranian regime and the state-run economy, which in turn affects the productive capacity of their un-reconciled nuclear development program. It must be duly noted that China is a signatory of this resolution and the measures enacted within it, therefore what is troublesome is their complete lack of regard for the measures they have helped pass and pledged to uphold.

As China’s economy continues to grow and to consume further, so will their need for oil and other energy alternatives to supply that growth (this therefore becomes the major source of contention when the UN attempts to reconcile the Sino-Iranian cooperative measures). Several Chinese national oil companies are currently located within Iran conducting relations with energy officials on potential trade agreements and investment initiatives, as well as selling gasoline to the Iran, which is punishable under current US policy.[vi] This Sino-Iranian relationship is the result of China’s need to expand into all potential energy reserves for its growing economy accompanied by the desperate need for the Iranian regime to find investment to tap into their underdeveloped oil and natural gas reserves, estimated to be one of the largest in the world. The unique relationship is not solely limited to energy agreements, but highly robust in the arms trade (another breach of the UNSC resolution)[vii], mining, transportation, power generation, and consumer goods market, making China Iran’s leading trade partner after that of Dubai.[viii] What Washington and its allies need to do is to attempt to maintain a harmonious relationship with China, a dire consequence of pushing China too far could result in increased Chinese activity and investment within Iran followed by European partners abandoning harsh economic sanctions and re-entering the Iranian economy to keep up with competitive commercial interests.

According to the most recent Reuters article, it states the following about China and its growing oil demand:


China is nonetheless a big purchaser of oil from Iran, which has been shunned by Western powers who say Tehran is seeking to develop the means to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, and China has repeatedly urged the Western powers to be more flexible in negotiations.

Salehi stressed Iran’s importance as an oil supplier in his comments at the China Institute of International Studies, a government-run think tank.

“It’s probably one of the few — I’m not saying the only — reliable sources of energy that China can depend on, so looking from this perspective, China and Iran they need each other,” he said, adding that his government did not come “under the influence” of other world powers.

The United States has lobbied China to turn more to Saudi Arabia and other more pro-Western states for its oil imports.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Tehran for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment programme.

China has back those U.N. sanctions, but used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to resist demands for more expansive penalties that would cover oil and other major economic ties with Iran.

Trade between Iran and China grew to $29.4 billion in 2010, a rise of 38.5 percent on the previous year, reflecting the oil trade and growing Chinese exports to Iran.

Salehi said that trade could grow to $50 billion “in the next few years”.

To get full Chinese cooperation on these policy efforts, Washington and its allies should commit to the following; recognize that China has more of an economic, national security and harmonious interest in maintaining good US-Chinese relations and a lot to lose from continued Iranian ones. It should recognize that while Chinese oil companies are present and have committed to projects within Iran, the figure of commitment is considerably smaller than the $100-120 billion frequently cited; and further, Chinese crude oil imports from Iran dropped by 35 percent during the first half of 2010 alone, a considerable improvement[ix]. Yet the current present information outlined in the article indicates that this considerable decrease of Iranian oil imports may have been in vain after all. As mentioned  in other posts before on this blog, it would be more conducive for China to follow the lobby of the United States to purchase Saudi oil for the following reasons:

  • Saudi petroleum production levels would satisfy the current energy demands of the Chinese economy;
  • Saudi petroleum would be more readily available, of a better quality, from a trusted sourced;
  • Would be able to increase production capacity and export to meet Chinese demands if necessary, rather than invest in Iranian oil infrastructure, taking time, money and foreign resources (rather costly ), and most importantly;
  • Would be highly more economically advantageous for the Chinese to purchase from Saudi sources given the current Iranian production costs of $15-$17 compared to Saudi Arabia’s total $2-$3 production cost, in regards to the previous point made.

Washington should spend much of its efforts to convince Saudi Arabia, which produces 11% of the world’s crude oil supply[x], along with other Arab oil-producing states, to guarantee some agreements with China on its energy needs, thus resulting in less Iranian enticement for trade agreements. What’s more, the United States should then work ardently to ensure China understands that the Saudi Arabia option offers the best short-term as well as long-term economic and competitive advantage for their country’s current and continued progression, (the more it costs the Chinese to advance and power their economy, the more likely their overall economic growth would be considerably less if business is down with Iran regarding energy concerns).

The US and its partners should take advantage of Iranian rhetoric that has taken on a harsh tone against Chinese partnerships claiming the poor quality of Chinese products as well as disdain for any Chinese cooperation whatsoever on the latest UNSC sanctions.[xi] The United States would have to pursue this policy with caution in that it may harm Sino-American relations in trade and cooperation. Further, increasing the awareness that Iran has repeatedly claimed Chinese products to be of a damaging inferior quality would help China not to increase trade with Iran, thus potentially curbing the anticipated increase in Sino-Iranian trade announced in this article. China however, is solely looking to maximize exports, regardless the quality of their products and so may not respond so attentively to such a dialogue.

Lastly, in an attempt to further sever Iranian and Chinese relations a more concerted effort should be made for Arab states to uniformly denounce China’s treatment of the Muslim population in Xinjiang resulting in Iranian clerics having to follow suit or else look like “bad” Muslim brothers, thus forcing China to cooperate with Arab oil producers to receive their energy needs and to stop their denunciation of the Xinjiang phenomenon. If more Arab countries publicly demand that China resolve the Xinjiang situation where the Chinese are attempting to “Han-ize” the indigenous Muslim population (sometimes with force, and most certainly breaking several humanitarian values and laws) the following could potentially happen:

  • Force China to either solve the situation or figure out a “face-saving” measure that would halt Arab demands for “Muslim justice” by signing energy agreements with Saudi Arabia;
  • Force Iran to follow suit with the Arabs so as to not appear “poor” or “bad” Muslim brothers to the Xinjiang population (this would potentially damage with great effect, Sino-Iranian relations), and;
  • Make known to China and its friendly nations that seeking cooperative measures witht he West serves their interest more than to blatantly go against them.
China is a major issue that needs to be addressed when regarding the effectiveness of the latest UNSC Resolution 1929 in which China is a signatory. China poses the most able and immediate threat to undermine the current trend (that has taken on more support recently with Merkel getting “fully on board”) of sanctions and practices to lessen the economic health and capacity of the Iranian regime. There are several methods to curb Iranian behavior and convince the Chinese that there are more profitable, conducive and beneficial policies to pursue regarding this specific issue that would benefit the West and China simultaneously.
[i] Downs, Erica, and Suzanne Maloney. “Getting China to Sanction Iran.” Foreign Affairs. 21 Mar. 2011. Print.

[i] UNSC Resolution 1929. “S/RES/1929 (2010). 9 June 2010

[ii] Gold, Dore. The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Pub., 2009. Print.

[iii] Downs, Erica, and Suzanne Maloney. “Getting China to Sanction Iran.” Foreign Affairs. 21 Mar. 2011. Print.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] UNSC. S/RES/1929. 9 June 2010.

[viii] Downs, Erica, and Suzanne Maloney. “Getting China to Sanction Iran.” Foreign Affairs. 21 Mar. 2011. Print.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Cole, Juan Ricardo. Engaging the Muslim World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

[xi] Downs, Erica, and Suzanne Maloney. “Getting China to Sanction Iran.” Foreign Affairs. 21 Mar. 2011. Print.

Give Angela Merkel credit. For all her rhetoric to the contrary, Germany’s Chancellor has not always been an ardent supporter of international pressure on Iran. In fact, over the past half-decade, her government has perpetuated Germany’s historic Janus-faced policy toward the Islamic Republic, supporting UN and European sanctions against Iran’s ayatollahs while simultaneously nurturing a thriving economic partnership with them. Of late, however, Merkel and her administration seem to have had a change of heart. In recent days, Germany has signaled its willingness to sign on to a European Union effort to sanction the European-Iranian Trade Bank, or EIH. (A formal designation by the EUis expected on Monday).

The move is deeply significant. The Iranian-controlled, Hamburg-based bank is widely known to be a key financial conduit for the Islamic Republic, facilitating billions of dollars in trade between Iran and Europe—and contributing substantially to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in the process. According to U.S. and international intelligence assessments, EIH serves as a pass-through for arms deals involving Iran’s acquisition of WMD-related components; as a financial lifeline for Iran’s feared clerical army, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps; and as an economic conduit which has facilitated the transfer of millions of dollars in ballistic missile technology to the Islamic Republic in recent years. This role led the U.S. Treasury Department to formally blacklist EIH in September of 2010.

Until recently, however, Germany has been reluctant to follow America’s lead. For years, the Merkel government has dragged its feet on similarly proscribing EIH, citing its potential financial liability to investors that could be disadvantaged if the bank were shuttered. It has also nixed proposals to do so put forth by other nations; as recently as February, Berlin reportedly blocked a French bid to designate EIH as a potential target for future EU sanctions.

The hesitance is understandable. The partnership that has developed between Berlin and Tehran over the past three decades isn’t just politically expedient, it’s highly lucrative. Germany represents Iran’s top trade partner in the European Union. And, according to official data from the German Federal Statistics Office, bilateral trade between Berlin and Tehran last year actually rose by some five percent (to just over $4.17 billion), despite multilateral efforts to economically isolate the Islamic Republic. German firms have gotten the message; although some (like Siemens) have at least pledged to curtail their trade with Iran, a great many—including ThyussenKrupp and Daimler—still do a booming business with, and within, the Islamic Republic.

Germany is helping Iran in other ways as well. By some estimates, the country provides as much as 60 percent of the critical technology used by Iran to exploit its massive natural gas reserves. With U.S. sanctions now beginning to squeeze Iran’s oil industry, such assistance is nothing short of a lifeline for Iran’s beleaguered energy economy. It also puts Berlin very much on the wrong side of the widening international effort to derail Iran’s march toward the bomb.

Perhaps this realization has contributed to the Merkel government’s more critical stance. But timing likely plays a large role as well. Germany’s hardening of policy against EIH comes amid new movement within the European Union for sanctions aimed both at Iran’s atomic endeavor and its repressive domestic conduct. And it precedes Merkel’s early-June visit to Washington, where the global drive to frustrate Iran’s nuclear ambitions is sure to take center stage in her discussions with White House officials.

Still, the German-Iranian alliance is liable to prove resilient. The economic bonds between Berlin and Tehran run deep, and there is bound to be no shortage of German companies agitating for a return to “business as usual” in bilateral trade with the Islamic Republic in the months ahead. Indeed, Germany’s recent (and distinctly unhelpful) role in temporarily helping India circumvent international restrictions on oil trade with Iran suggests that its status as an enabler of the Iranian regime is far from a thing from the past.

Nevertheless, Germany’s support of sanctions against EIH should be seen for what it is: a significant evolution in Berlin’s Iran policy, and a major step forward for international efforts to cut off a critical conduit for Iran’s burgeoning strategic arsenal. When she comes to Washington, American policymakers should commend Chancellor Merkel for facilitating both. But they also should make clear that they expect these changes to be more than simply temporary.

This article by Forbes brings up many a good point. It identifies a Germany that falls in line with the most recent UNSC resolution provisions (1929) put toward the Iranian regime and their belligerent nuclear development activities, yet also a Germany that is still itching to do business with the country. The author strikes a chord when he comments,

It also puts Berlin very much on the wrong side of the widening international effort to derail Iran’s march toward the bomb.

Perhaps this realization has contributed to the Merkel government’s more critical stance. But timing likely plays a large role as well. Germany’s hardening of policy against EIH comes amid new movement within the European Union for sanctions aimed both at Iran’s atomic endeavor and its repressive domestic conduct.

The recent trend of increasing international isolation on the intolerable and damaging acts of the Iranian regime are not just from European nations but also South Korea, Australia, Canada and Japan, just to name to a few. The overall effect of these sanctions is to demonstrate that Iran can be a viable and respected player within the global market if it chooses to play by the rules all other civilized and developed nations adhere to. The international community wishes Iran to be the valuable and necessary international partner that it has the potential to be, yet it chooses a path of deception, and armament build ups.

Merkel I believe is finally capturing the true essence of the situation and falling in line with many of her European as well as international counterparts in pursuing what is the most non-lethal, yet aggressive and assertive policy toward the belligerent Iranian regime. Germany has helped the Iranian natural gas trade in years past however this is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, especially if Germany does not allow the Iranian natural gas extraction capabilities to exceed a dangerous amount that would put them at a more economic competitive edge.

As the article’s author suggests, this is a good move toward a more stable and secure international community of the future, and Merkel should be praised for her recent efforts in helping to rid the Iranian regime of all its belligerent and destructive habits.

Brief Overview of Iranian Energy Sector:

The UNSC resolution sanctions target their energy sector, which in turns effects their economy at large with the overall goal of not allow Iran the necessary revenue to advance their secretive nuclear development program further and faster than current levels. Their natural gas infrastructure is severely limited and all of the natural gas being extracted goes to powering the Iranian petroleum production. Due to the effectiveness of the sanctions, Iran uses a substantial portion of its extracted petroleum on powering its own country’s energy needs. Iran overall produces a mere 5 billion barrels of oil per day and the cost to produce each barrel is staggering compared to other nations like Saudi Arabia. For example, what costs the Wahhabis $2 to $3 per barrel costs the Iranians roughly $15 to $17 dollars. The Iranians then are left with no option but to sell whatever is left over for export at market prices, creating a severe loss and usually the reason why Iran always demands OPEC increase the price of oil.

This policy in the recent months has shown to work and has caused immense pressure on the Iranian regime to follow policies that are more conducive toward global economic and security cooperation and nothing to the contrary.