June 14th, 2023
By Alex Gault
WASHINGTON — Rep. Elise M. Stefanik is concerned about the apparent partnership between the People’s Republic of China and Iran, and is asking the U.S. Department of Defense to analyze whether opening the long-discussed missile defense site at Fort Drum may help combat the risks that collaboration poses to U.S. interests.
In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Rep. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and Rep. Doug L. Lamborn, R-Colo., asked for information on the collaboration between Iran and China in their capacities as members of the House Armed Services Committee, expressing their concern that two countries they defined as “authoritarian” and “adversaries” of the U.S. are working together to improve their defensive postures.
The congresswoman said it’s of particular concern now that the U.S. has charged a Chinese national with supplying isostatic graphite to Iran. Isostatic graphite is used at the tips of rockets and missile reentry nose tips.
“With technical assistance from the PRC, Iran continues to maintain the largest missile force in the Middle East, while advancing its dual-use space launch and inter-continental ballistic missile capabilities,” the letter reads. “If left unchecked, this partnership will further enable Iran’s nuclear and ICBM capabilities, enhancing its ability to hold at risk the United States homeland.”
The lawmakers said that they feel concerned about the apparent growing ICBM capabilities being developed in Iran, and asked for DOD to begin reanalyzing the construction of a missile defense site at Fort Drum with consideration for Iran’s advancing capabilities.
“In light of these continually increasing capabilities, further enhanced by ongoing illicit technology transfers among our adversaries, it is imperative that the U.S. take immediate steps to counter the illegal proliferation of this technology and strengthen our existing homeland missile defense structure by constructing a third missile defense interceptor site at Fort Drum, New York,” they said.
Rep. Stefanik, who has been pushing for a missile defense site at Fort Drum since she was elected in 2014, has seen recent movement on that goal with DOD officials beginning to express interest in constructing the site. Recently, the congresswoman questioned Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley on the subject and he said it would be “strategically worthwhile” to construct the site.