Iran: Missile Program Developments
By Amir Taghati
Iran is at the centre of numerous discussions among the international community regarding its ballistic missile program. Against all odds, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been able to enlarge its ballistic missile arsenal, making it one of the biggest and most diverse in the Middle East.
However, the United States and several regional allies are intent on subverting the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile development.
The country’s missile program took precedence during the eighties when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were building up their units so that the country was self-reliant and did not require or depend on foreign forces.
General Hassan Tehrani-Moghaddam was the one who built the missile program up, putting it to the forefront of the country’s military priorities. Research and development took the forefront and technicians were able to essentially reverse engineer Scud technology.
Even after Tehrani-Moghaddam’s death (which occurred during an explosion in research facilities), the missile program continued to make progress, albeit under the radar. New missiles, different to what the regime had previously been working on, were developed. This includes a couple of nuclear capable missiles.
Iran’s missile program has been a concern for the international community for years, but it is an issue that many leaders have failed to address. Former U.S. President Barack Obama decided to leave the issue alone in the context of the nuclear deal negotiations. Furthermore, UNSC Resolution 1929 was made to be ambiguous, stating simply that Iran “is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons” – a vagueness that Iran exploited as much as it could.
Last year, the Iranian regime conducted a number of tests. The UN Security Council concluded that Iran had breeched resolution 2231 because the missiles were capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Iran has also made a big deal about its new short-range missiles.
Only last month, officials announced that its Hoveizeh cruise missile had successfully been tested. Regime officials also said that they will continue to carry out testing at a rate of over 50 per year.
Iran, predictably, claims that its ballistic missile program exists only for defence purposes but in actual fact it just shows that Iran is intent on continuing with its nuclear weapons program. Iran is still working on its nuclear activities in secret.
The United States has repeatedly warned Iran about its behaviour but Iran has taken no heed, going as far as to call the warnings “empty threats”. At the beginning of the year, a space launch vehicle took off from an Iranian space facility. The launch failed and only a few weeks later a second satellite was launched.
The United States has allegedly been taking efforts to subvert Iran’s plans – both on its ballistic missile and space programs. The U.S. maintains that the space program is nothing more than a cover for its ballistic missile program and its attempts to ensure that a nuclear warhead can be carried.