Defying Trump, Iran Builds Ballistic Missile Base

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Missiles on show at Iran’s army day parade. (Photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Just days after U.S. President Donald Trump demanded Iran cancel its ballistic missile program, Iran announced it has completed construction of a third underground ballistic missile facility. Ballistic missiles are used to deliver nuclear warheads.

Speaking Israel last Monday, Trump said, “Iran will never have nuclear weapons.” Trump also called out Iranian regional aggression in his landmark speech in Saudi Arabia, where he called on the Muslim world to do more to tackle terrorism.

Iran announced its new base on Thursday.

“Step by step, we are developing our defensive capability, and I announce today that in recent years, we have built a third underground factory for the manufacture of missiles,” said General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Air Force, to Iranian media according to Sky News.

Iran already has the missile capability to hit some U.S. and Israeli bases in the region. Iran boasts that its missiles have a range of up to 2,000 km, which includes Greece, southern Italy, southeast Europe, Turkey, Israel, the Caucasus, Central Asia, southern Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and all the Arab Gulf states.

“We are going to develop our ballistic power,” Hajizadeh said. “It’s normal that our enemies, that is to say the United States and Israel, are angry when we show off our underground missile bases because they want the Iranian people to be in a position of weakness.”

UN Security Council Resolution 2231 prohibits “the supply, sale or transfer” of ballistic missiles or related ballistic missile technology or components to Iran “designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

A complete “Missile Technology Control Regime List” can be found on the UN website here.

Resolution 2231 was passed at the same time as the Iran deal and was set to last eight years after the signing of the deal. It endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and replaced previous UN resolutions concerning the Iranian nuclear issue.

It urged full implementation of the JCPOA by all signatories. The sanctions it added on Iranian missile technology were intended to ensure Western demands that Iran keep its missile program peaceful and does not go on to develop nuclear warheads or develop the missile technology necessary to fire those warheads, be that at America or at Israel.

The resolution also contains the option to reapply sanctions imposed by previous (and now defunct) UN resolutions through a mechanism by which a JCPOA signatory state would submit a letter detailing Iranian violations of the agreement and trigger a vote on whether to continue the termination of those sanctions resolutions, or to reinstate the resolutions and reimpose sanctions.

In February, the Trump administration announced it was “officially putting Iran on notice” after a “a provocative ballistic missile launch.”

Then U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn noted that, “The recent ballistic missile launch is also in defiance of UN Security Council resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Iran maintains that its missile program is not in defiance of the UN resolution but is simply self-defense.

Iran also earlier this year began production of a new battle tank and an anti-drone system designed to separate the hardware from its command signals.

For more information about the Iran’s nuclear ambitions, see Clarion Project’s Factsheet: The Iranian Nuclear Program

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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