by John D. Johnson
Download the Full Article: The Iranian Ballistic Missile Threat
Iran's position in the Middle East is unique. Iran is a Persian country surrounded by Arabs and other non-Persian ethnic groups. Iran is a Shia Muslim country surrounded by mostly Sunni Muslims and some Christians. It sees the presence of Western militaries in neighboring countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. As such, Iran perceives an existential threat. Feeling threatened, Iran continues to develop offensive and defensive military capabilities including long-range ballistic missiles and proxy groups, and probably views a nuclear-armed ballistic missile as a credible deterrent against an external attack.
The threats posed by Iran’s ballistic missiles and the nexus of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs are of great concern to the U.S., NATO, and the international community. While Iran claims its missiles are defensive in nature and its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, insufficient cooperation and transparency on Iran’s part leaves these claims open to serious debate.
Given Iran's military capabilities and ambiguous intent, the international community has gone to great lengths to engage Iran diplomatically. The U.S., NATO members and Middle Eastern countries have also engaged in threat mitigation activities including non-proliferation efforts, economic sanctions and the deployment of missile defense systems.http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/09/the-iranian-ballistic-missile/