On July 26, 2019, Prof. Rebeccah Heinrichs spoke in an interview with Fox Business to discuss Iran’s recent ballistic missile test. Ms. Heinrichs is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute specializing in nuclear deterrence and missile defense and additionally serves as an adjunct professor at The Institute of World Politics, where she teaches a course on Nuclear Deterrence and Arms Control. In this interview, she addressed the U.S. inaction in confronting this issue and offered advice on how to address provocative Iranian and North Korean military developments.
Shortly following the Iranian Parliament’s announcement that Iran is planning to charge a toll from foreign ships in exchange for protection across the Strait of Hormuz, they test-fired a medium-range missile that has further strained the relationship between the U.S. and Iran. This test occurred alongside recent actions undertaken by North Korea, a longtime collaborator of Iran on missile technology, which has been engaging in short-range missile tests. According to Ms. Heinrichs, these actions, especially considering Iran’s claims to the sole rights of the Strait of Hormuz, are sending a clear, coercive message to the U.S.
President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have offered restrained reactions in response to the missile test, seeking to downplay their significance to the future of U.S.-Iran relations. To this point, Ms. Heinrichs contended that the President has been seeking to maintain the status quo and exercise military restraint in order to maximize the economic pressure but preserve an avenue for potential negotiations. Iran is attempting to force America’s “golf partners” to buckle under the pressure, she asserted, and our strategy for handling Iran is not working.
Instead, she offered this advice to President Trump: invest in missile defense capabilities and deploy them regionally. In order to protect our assets in the region and diminish their leverage and coercive power, we must demonstrate that we have credible and reliable missile defense systems in the region. This will likewise show both Iran and North Korea that their military arsenals will only bring them great and continual trouble.