Rouhani expands Iran’s missile program despite U.S. sanctions threat

Introduction — Dec 31, 2015

Sukhoi Su-30.

A Russian Sukhoi Su-30 that Iran is reportedly considering buying. Click to enlarge

The Reuters headline blow should actually read U.S. sanctions threat prompts Iran to expand missile program. Because while the U.S. is doing its utmost to contain Iran’s development it only seems to be making things more difficult for itself.
First there were U.S. efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear program. Despite U.S. and Israeli claims to the contrary, Iran probably never had a serious nuclear weapons program. If only because the Ayatollah Khamenei has decreed that the production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons against Islamic teaching.
That didn’t stop the U.S. from embarking on a diplomatic campaign to isolate Iran. However, with sanctions about to be lifted after the successful conclusion of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers last July, the U.S. appears to be trying a new approach.
After all, the only thing the drive to isolate Iran seems to have achieved is help forge stronger bonds between it and Russia.
So now the U.S. appears to be trying a new pretext for sanctions, not over Iran’s nuclear program this time but over its missiles. Last October Iran successfully test fired an upgraded new missile, the Emad, with improved accuracy over its previous generation of surface-to-surface missiles.
Days after the successful test launch the clamour began in Washington, as Israel’s bought and paid for lackey’s demanded that the Obama administration take action over the test. Now just over two months later a new sanctions package appears to be in the pipeline.
However President Rhouhani has already responded and defiantly too. Ordering his defence minister to speed up the development of Iran’s missile program. He can see which way the wind is blowing and he knows that this is really about containing the chief challenge to Israel’s dominance in the region.
Thing is though, even if these new sanctions are imposed many other options are now opening up for Iran. It is already reported to be considering the purchase of T-90 tanks and Su-30 air superiority fighters from Russia.
Both are considered ‘defensive weapons’, meaning that Iran wouldn’t be prohibited from buying them, and both are better weapons than it currently produces. So in trying to contain Iran’s development the U.S. is only making matters worse for itself: alienating Iran further and pushing it closer to Russia.
But of course, this isn’t being done to protect America’s interests. The chief beneficiary from stopping improvements in Iranian missile accuracy would be Israel. Only it’s the U.S. that will ultimately pay the price. Ed.

Rouhani expands Iran’s missile program despite U.S. sanctions threat

Reuters — Dec 31, 2015

Emad launch. Click to enlarge

Emad launch. Click to enlarge

President Hassan Rouhani ordered his defense minister on Thursday to expand Iran’s missile program, in defiance of a U.S. threat to impose sanctions over a ballistic missile test Iran carried out in October.

Under a landmark agreement it clinched with world powers in July, Iran is scaling back a nuclear program that the West feared was aimed at acquiring atomic weapons, in return for an easing of international sanctions. It hopes to see these lifted early in the new year.

But sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday that Washington is preparing new sanctions against international companies and individuals over Iran’s testing of a medium-range Emad rocket on Oct. 10.

The escalating dispute centers on the types of missile that the Islamic Republic is allowed to develop and whether they are capable of, or designed to, carry nuclear warheads.

“As the U.S. government is clearly still pursuing its hostile policies and illegal meddling … the armed forces need to quickly and significantly increase their missile capability,” Rouhani wrote in a letter to Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, published by the state news agency, IRNA.

“The defense ministry, with the support of the armed forces, is tasked with putting in place new programs by all available means to increase the country’s missile capability,” he added.

U.S. officials have said the Treasury Department retains a right under the nuclear deal to blacklist Iranian entities suspected of involvement in missile development.

Iranian officials have said the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would view such penalties as violating the nuclear accord. Earlier on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari condemned the U.S. plans to impose additional sanctions as “arbitrary and illegal”.

A team of U.N. sanctions monitors said in a confidential report seen by Reuters on Dec. 15 that the Emad rocket tested by Iran was a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, making it a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Ballistic missiles follow a high, arching trajectory before falling under gravity to their target, unlike low-flying cruise missiles. Ballistic tests by Iran are banned under Security Council resolution 1929, which dates from 2010 and remains valid until the July nuclear deal between Iran and world powers goes into effect.

Once it does, Iran will still be “called upon” not to undertake any ballistic missiles work designed to deliver nuclear weapons for a period of up to eight years, according to a Security Council resolution adopted in July, right after the nuclear deal.

Iran says the resolution would ban only missiles “designed” to carry a nuclear warhead, not “capable of” carrying one, so it would not affect its military program as Tehran does not pursues nuclear weapons. Iran has called Emad a conventional missile.

In his letter to Dehghan, Rouhani said Iran’s missile program had nothing to do with its nuclear program and that the missiles have “not been designed to carry nuclear warheads”.

The Iranian missiles under development boast much improved accuracy over the current generation, which experts say is likely to improve their effectiveness with conventional warheads.

(Reporting by Sam Wilkin and Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)


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