Officials said the Defense Department has been briefing all six GCC
states on U.S. plans for a comprehensive air and missile defense umbrella.
They said the umbrella would consist of U.S. military- and GCC-controlled
"The reality is we are working both on a bilateral and a multilateral
basis in the Gulf to establish the same kind of regional missile defense
that would protect our facilities out there as well as our friends and
allies," Gates said.
Officials said the United Arab Emirates has been the most advanced in
plans to form a missile defense umbrella. The UAE has ordered the Terminal
High Altitude Area Defense system, designed to destroy nuclear missiles in
Over the last two years, the Pentagon has been meeting GCC military
chiefs to discuss regional and national missile defense programs. So far,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were pursuing their own missile defense
programs based on U.S.-origin assets.
At the same time, the U.S. military has been operating PAC-3 in Kuwait
and Qatar. The U.S. Army has also been helping Saudi Arabia upgrade its
For his part, Gates acknowledged a significant increase in Iran's
missile threat. He said Iran has accumulated an arsenal of hundreds of
intermediate-range ballistic missiles, including Shihab-3, that could strike
much of the Middle East.
"I've addressed this issue two years running in Manama, in meetings of
defense ministers before the Manama [strategic] conferences," Gates said.
"And we already have Patriots out there and we have Aegis ships out there."