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President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran is a risk. It’s no surprise that people of good faith disagree on its prospects for success (Re: David Shepardson’s Aug. 13 report, “Former Sen. Levin backs U.S.-Iran nuclear deal”).

But instead of manning the barricades in our typical scorched earth politics, I would urge the president’s critics to support more constructive steps – like working to build up the ballistic missile defenses we will need if the president’s deal should fail.

Our “GMD” homeland missile system has proven in 9 successful tests that it can stop an ICBM fired by a rogue state like Iran. But the system needs technology upgrades, associated tests and advanced sensors, including in space. Additional defenses also are needed to defend against ballistic missiles launched from vessels off our coasts.

Those who worry the president’s deal won’t stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb should support the strong defenses we will need if they are right.

Henry F. “Hank” Cooper was chief missile defense negotiator under president Ronald Reagan and director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Defense Initiative under president George H.W. Bush.

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