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Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, several of us have talked about the tragic terrorist attack on America 11 years ago today. I think we all remember where we were and what we were doing at the time. I remember so well going up to New York to Ground Zero and seeing the people who were involved and talking to the families of some of the firemen who lost their lives. As tragic as that is, I have to ask the question: Is there any doubt that those terrorists, if they had the ability to send a weapon over to the United States, would do that?
I look back sometimes wistfully to the days of the Cold War when it was the USSR and the United States. They were predictable and we were predictable. But it is different. Such concepts as mutually assured destruction at that time were somewhat meaningful and were very effective. It is not effective now because we are dealing with people who want to die. It is a different environment altogether.
On this 11th year, on this particular day, when I think about President Obama's first budget 4 years ago, he did a lot of things I thought were very destructive to our military, and I have talked about that on the floor several times. He did away with the F-22, the only fifth-generation vehicle. He did away with our lift capacity of the C-17. He did away with the future combat system. I think people are aware of that, but something people may not be aware of that happened in that same budget was doing away with the Poland site of the ground-based interceptor.
Think back to the decision that was made in this country that we had to prepare ourselves for Iran having the capability of a weapon that could be sent all the way over to the United States. We have ground-based interceptors in Alaska, all the way down to southern California. So anything coming from the west I feel very comfortable about, but coming from the other direction, coming from Iran, that is not the case. So we recognized some 6 or 7 years ago that we were going to have to have some kind of a ground-based interceptor that would take care of a missile coming from the east. I was part of that. So we did that in both the Czech Republic and in Poland. The Czech Republic had to be willing to have a radar site and Poland had to be willing to take on Russia, which didn't want them to have this capability, and we put a ground-based interceptor in Poland to take care of anything coming from that direction. We did that, but in his first budget President Obama did away with it. They tried to say that maybe that was not an accurate assessment, but the 2007 NIE--National Intelligence Estimate--concluded that Iran could develop an intercontinental missile capability by 2015.
Less than a year later DOD stated in its April 2010 report on Iran's military that they sent to Congress--and I remember this very well:
With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015.
That is totally consistent with what they said back in 2007.
In place of the third site, the Obama administration pitched a new missile defense plan, the European Phased Adaptive Approach with an incremental deployment of sea, land, and air versions, and so forth. One thing we all agree on is that the SM-3 Block IB is a short- to medium-range defense mechanism. The SM-3 Block IIA is short to medium range. The one that would take the place and would have the capability of the ground-based interceptor in Poland is the SM-3 Block IIB. That is still a concept. It is on the drawing board. We know Iran is going to have that capability by 2015 and they say maybe a deployment date by 2020. That leaves the United States of America and Europe unprotected for 5 years.
Now, although I say unprotected, there is some level of protection there. They talk about the AEGIS ships; however, in subsequent budgets the President has cut the AEGIS ships in their capability and the number of missiles that they carry to the point where it leaves us still unprotected--not just us but also Europe.
Fast-forward to today and DOD's April 2012 report, the report on Iran, which, again, states:
Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy and improvements and new submunition payloads. Iran may be technically capable of flight testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015.
Secretary Panetta confirmed this. He is the Secretary of Defense. He said earlier this year on ``60 Minutes'' that he believes Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon in about a year, and then it would take them another 1 to 2 years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle. Again, that is around 2015, leaving a 5-year gap between the date when our interceptors become operational and the date that Iran fields a nuclear ballistic missile capable of threatening Europe and the United States.
In this year's budget request President Obama cut $250 million from the THAAD system procurement, procuring 36 interceptors instead of 42. He
cuts THAAD fire units from 9 to 6 and cut $175 million in AEGIS. Again, that is part of the system that would replace the ground-based interceptor in Poland that is already under construction. The SM-3 procurement would be delayed, procuring 29 SM-3 Block IB interceptors instead of 46; in other words, dramatically cutting down our capability at the same time that there could be no doubt in anyone's mind from what I said that 2015 is a realistic date when Iran would have the capability of not just the weapon but a delivery system.
Additionally, the President has failed to plan or program enough AEGIS ships in the budget to provide full coverage. In other words, they can move them around. They have a good rocket capability. I have been supportive of the AEGIS system, but he is cutting down on the number of them. Those should just be there for the protection of Europe and not the protection of the United States.
At the end of President Obama's now infamous meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on March 26 of this year, President Obama said--not knowing that the mic was open:
On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it's important for him [incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin] to give me space.
That is President Obama's words. He continues:
This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.
Thinking back 11 years ago at the tragedy that immediately killed 3,000 people in that horrible terrorist attack, again, I ask the same question I asked a few minutes ago: Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that a person would hesitate to come over on a well-orchestrated terrorist attack on America and use a system delivered on some type of vehicle to the eastern part of the United States? I say no. I can't imagine anyone believes that is not a possibility.
As tragic as 3,000 people being killed was, it doesn't take much of an imagination to look at any type of missile hitting a major American city. We wouldn't be talking about 3,000; we would be talking about 300,000 or even 3 million.
I think this is the day, on the 11th anniversary, that we need to take the warning we received 11 years ago and look into the future not just for ourselves--in my case, for my 20 kids and grandkids. We cannot subject ourselves. We need to take care of this horrible gap in our defense of an incoming missile coming from the east as quickly as possible.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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