Washington, D.C. - Reps. Elise Stefanik and Doug Lamborn today led a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pushing for information about illicit technology transfers between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Iran, which is a concerning partnership between the two authoritarian regimes who are working jointly to strengthen Iran’s missile and nuclear capabilities. 

Capability transfers between our two adversaries have rightfully come under increased scrutiny following a Chinese national recently being charged by the United States Department of Justice with supplying Iran with isostatic graphite, which is used in the manufacturing of rocket nozzles and reentry vehicle nose tips in intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). This letter condemns these technology transfers and demands further information on how this partnership is enhancing Iranian missile capabilities.

The letter also requests an analysis from our Department of Defense on how the United States’s missile defense architecture is equipped to counter and deter Iran’s growing ICBM capabilities and clearly describes the operational need for a third missile defense site to be constructed at Fort Drum.

In the letter, the lawmakers state, With technical assistance from the PRC, Iran continues to maintain the largest missile force in the Middle East, while advancing its dual-use space launch and inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities. If left unchecked, this partnership will further enable Iran’s nuclear and ICBM capabilities, enhancing its ability to hold at risk the United States homeland.”

Stefanik expresses concern about the United States’s homeland missile defense architecture being able to keep up with Iran’s advancing ICBM capabilities, which are now further strengthened by this extremely concerning relationship with China. In the letter, the Members advocate for immediately enhancing the United States’s credible deterrence by beginning the construction of a third missile defense site at Fort Drum.

The letter specifically calls on the Department of Defense to respond with: 

1.      A specific breakdown of all technical assistance from the PRC to Iran, 

2.      The Department of Defense’s assessment of Iran’s ICBM program, and

3.      An analysis of the United States’s current homeland missile defense architecture in light of enhancing Iranian capabilities.

Rep. Stefanik and Rep. Lamborn are joined by House Armed Services Members: Reps. Wittman, Gallagher, Banks, Wilson, Moylan, McCormick, and Strong.

As the chief advocate in Congress for Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, Stefanik secured Fort Drum’s designation as the preferred East Coast Missile Defense site in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. She has continued to advocate to maintain this designation and build additional support in each annual NDAA, including requiring a report for a plan on how Fort Drum will be leveraged for this future site in FY22 and FY23 NDAAs to continue moving this project forward.

Stefanik’s recent questioning secured General Milley’s statement of support that it is “strategically worthwhile” to host a third missile defense site at Fort Drum. Stefanik also secured a public commitment from Vice Admiral Jon Hill, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency.

Read the full letter here.