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White House Backs Israeli Anti-Missile System (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By Nathan Hodge 03/28/12)Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/03/27/white-house-backs-israeli-anti-missile-system/?KEYWORDS=Israel WASHINGTON TIMES WASHINGTON TIMES Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
A day after President Barack Obama drew fire for missile-defense remarks, the administration is winning points from some Israel supporters after the Pentagon threw its support Tuesday behind new funding for an Israeli defensive system that recently countered barrage of rockets from Palestinian militants.

At issue is Iron Dome, a system designed to stop short-range missiles. In 2011, Iron Dome, made by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., received $205 million in U.S. funding. In a statement Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little said the U.S. Defense Department was in discussions with the Israeli government about additional funding to procure more Iron Dome systems – and would ask Congress to provide “an appropriate level of funding” for more production.

“Supporting the security of the State of Israel is a top priority of President Obama and Secretary Panetta,” he said.

That endorsement drew praise from Rep. Howard Berman (D., Calif.), the author of the Iron Dome Support Act, a new bill that would help support the deployment of more Iron Dome batteries. “Iron Dome is a game changer,” said Rep. Berman. “The threats Israel faces from incoming, indiscriminate terrorist rocket attacks are countered by this cutting edge anti-missile system. Iron Dome is fundamentally shifting political, diplomatic and military realities on the ground, while saving lives of innocent Israelis. Today’s statement is a further step in the right direction.”

Rep. Steve Rothman (D., N.J.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, promised to “robustly fund” the defensive system.

Iron Dome is only piece of a layered defensive system. Boeing Co.’s Arrow II missile system, developed with Israel, is designed to counter Iran’s long-range missiles; Raytheon Co. has teamed with Rafael on the David’s Sling, another missile defense program; and Israel also has the Patriot system.

Addressing a missile-defense forum Monday, Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), said those interlocking defenses, along with U.S. investment in missile-defense technology, could have “major implications” for dissuading Iran from deciding to develop nuclear weapons. Missile defenses, he said, would blunt Iran’s ability to retaliate if there is a strike on its nuclear facilities.

“Iran would have to factor Israel’s missile -defense capability into its calculations,” Sen. Levin said. “And since that missile-defense system is very capable, Iran would not be able to count on deterring an attack against its nuclear facilities because it has a retaliatory missile attack threat in its arsenal.”

Iron Dome is limited to relatively short-range threats, such as artillery rockets. The U.S. military has also fielded its own counter- rocket and mortar system, built around the radar-guided Phalanx gun. (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) 03/28/12)

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