Coinciding with the snap visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Saudi Arabia this week, the US military is considering deploying one of its THAAD defense systems in the region.
Both moves are intended to lessen concerns expressed in the Gulf countries about Iran’s nuclear program and its increasing interventions in conflicts across the Middle East. Tehran’s direct and indirect involvement by its Shi’ite proxies is evident in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.
THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is an American anti-ballistic missile system. It is designed to intercept and “kill” medium- and long-range incoming ballistic missiles, including those which are carrying nuclear warheads.
In a sense, the idea to deploy THAAD in order to defend the Gulf emirates and Saudi Arabia from Iran practically means to offer them a “nuclear umbrella.”
It is also intended to minimize the chance that they would rush to develop nuclear weapons as an ultimate shield against Iran. One of the fears of the international community – Israel included – is that a nuclear Iran will trigger a nuclear race in the Middle East.
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