A new threshold of risk
After their first use in World War II, rockets evolved to become a common feature of regional conflicts. This trend continued with introduction of a wide array of different offensive missiles, culminating in development of nuclear ICBM’s by the world’s superpowers – the signature strategic threat of the Cold War. However, the first serious use of large ballistic missiles came, not from the arsenals of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., but from a much smaller nation: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
While Mutually Assured Destruction acted as an effective deterrent for the Cold War superpowers, deterrence is widely judged an insufficient bulwark against trans-national terror organizations and rogue states that have replaced traditional military procurement with a single-minded focus on missile technology and weapons of mass destruction. While Iran and North Korea are highlighted as today’s principle global threats, they are the first expression of unchecked proliferation, fueled by growing regional instabilities and religious and militant extremism – critical factors that have brought the world to a new and dangerous reality.