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Persian Gulf missile shield pursued

Aug. 9, 2012 at 8:20 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The United States and its Persian Gulf allies are pursuing a regional missile defense system to protect against an Iranian attack, government officials said.

Analysts said the enterprise requires gulf nations to set aside differences, share information and coordinate their weapons arsenals to create a defense shield that covers and protects all the allies, The New York Times reported Thursday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among the first to call for a gulf missile shield several years ago and more recently tried to nudge gulf allies while she visited Saudi Arabia.

The objective in the gulf is the same as the one of the better known missile defense shield being installed in Europe: deterring any Iranian attack and, if necessary, thwarting the effect of missiles launched against allied territory and U.S. forces.

The Persian Gulf initiative is being developed behind the scenes on a country-by-country basis, the Times said. Billions of dollars in arms sales have been negotiated between the United States and nations in the region.

The next challenge, analysts said, is persuading gulf nations to set aside their rivalries and share early warning radar data, then integrate their unilateral missile interceptor systems so the defense shield can extend to the entire region.

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