As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Jerusalem March 9, Iran test-fired two ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel. Written on the missiles in Hebrew were the words, “Israel Must Be Wiped Out.”
Ballistic missiles are traditionally used to carry nuclear warheads.
The blatant provocation followed the test launching the previous day of multiple short-, medium- and long-range, precision-guided ballistic missiles. This was in potential defiance of U.N. resolutions and U.S. sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s missile program.
The sanctions were imposed in January, just hours after a nuclear deal brokered in the summer between Iran and world powers freed billions of dollars to Iran in exchange for scaling down its nuclear program. The new sanctions were a response to the Islamic Republic’s test firing of new long-range, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles in October – missiles that had been banned by the UN.
Commenting on Wednesday’s test, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, said, “The 1,240-mile range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime. Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.”
IRNA, Iran's state news agency, reported the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said the test had Iran's enemies "shivering from the roar" of the missiles.
Since the signing of the nuclear agreement Iran has engaged in a provocative “cat and mouse” game with the U.S.
In addition, to the October ballistic missile test:
- In September, Iran simulated a missile attack on a US aircraft carrier in an agitprop video titled “If Any War happens.”
- In October, just three days after one of the ballistic tests, Iranian state TV aired unprecedented footage of an underground missile base.
- In December, Iran tested rockets with live fire within 1,500 yards of American warships in the Strait of Hormuz
- In January, Iran test-fired an upgraded surface-to surface cruise missile in a new set of wargames code-named Velayat-94
- In January, an unarmed Iranian surveillance drone flew near U.S. and French aircraft carriers in the Gulf, managing to take “precise” photos while the ship was involved in an ongoing naval drill. An Iranian submarine was also detected in close proximity to the aircraft carriers.
- In January, Iran captured 10 U.S. sailors whose boat had strayed into Iranian territorial waters. The soldiers were humiliated and held for 15 hours. Iran has since used the incident to mocked America in videos and plays.
Speaking in Jerusalem on Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden vowed that the U.S. would “act” if Iran broke the nuclear agreements.
"We are united in the belief that a nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, the region and the United States," Biden said following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.