Download PDF Missile-Defence Cooperation in the Gulf Press Release

London, 2 December 2016 – The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) face a common threat from Iran’s conventional missile capabilities but have missed opportunities to improve their security through collective missile defence, research released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies argues.

Launching the new IISS Strategic Dossier Missile-Defence Cooperation in the Gulf, one of the report’s authors, Consulting Senior Fellow for the Middle East, Professor Toby Dodge, said the desire of the GCC states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – sovereignty has impeded the integration or coordination of their missile-defence capabilities.

Dodge points out that while the GCC states have gained a measure of anti-missile protection by securing technology and expertise from third states, principally the United States, they should now consider a more strategically efficient approach to missile defence.

‘With increasing tension in the region and GCC states cooperating militarily in Yemen, there is now the possibility for greater cooperation on missile defence,’ he said.

Written by a team of IISS experts, the new Strategic Dossier examines the ongoing policy debates on Middle Eastern collective security both within the GCC and in the group’s interactions with the US. It puts forward a set of concrete policy proposals that would allow the GCC to make speedier progress in establishing a collective missile-defence capability. These focus on the gradual integration of missile-defence systems, along with the need for detailed political and diplomatic negotiations to reach agreement on the circumstances in which such a capability could be activated, the assets to use and what they should defend.

It recommends that the Gulf states take a series of steps to move towards a collective missile-defence architecture and decision-making infrastructure.

As a first step, the authors suggest establishing a joint operations and maintenance enterprise that covers personnel, logistics and shared resources. The countries could also share a stockpile of interceptor missiles that could be moved to a country under attack. Secondly, GCC countries could start to build a ballistic missile early-warning system. This could then be expanded to create a network of sensors that would give all countries the same information on the battlespace around them. Encouraging training and exercises among missile units of GCC countries would also help to develop policies, which in turn, would benefit integration. Finally, this should lead to a fully developed integrated missile defence shield aided by other countries’ sensors and radars to detect and destroy incoming missiles.

‘It would certainly require difficult compromises between the defence of individual state sovereignty and an increase in overall security delivered by collective missile defence,’ Dodge explains. ‘However, sharing sensor information and capabilities would deliver a much more comprehensive defence against any potential missile attack,’ he adds.

The dossier concludes that the GCC states should begin the challenging task of political negotiations to integrate their missile-defence capabilities and calls on the GCC Supreme Council to lead the decision-making process.


James Clements, Media and Communications Officer

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About the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is a world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict. Founded in 1958, the IISS promotes the development of sound policies that further global peace and security, and maintain 'civilised' international relations. The IISS is renowned for its extensive global research and publications including its annual assessment of the world’s armed forces (The Military Balance) and active armed conflicts (The Armed Conflict Survey and Armed Conflict Database), its leading annual assessment of global affairs, Strategic Survey: The Annual Review of World Affairs and seminal work on nuclear deterrence and arms control, as well as emerging geopolitical and geo-economic trends. The IISS is also renowned for its security summits, including the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue (The Asian Regional Security Summit) and IISS Manama Dialogue (The Middle East Regional Security Summit). The IISS has offices in London, Washington DC, Bahrain and Singapore.

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