When Iran launches major missile tests, major protests from Western countries inevitably follow.
The international community is rightfully concerned about the dangers of Iran’s ballistic missile program, and as such, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 2231 in July 2015, banning Iran from testing ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload. More recently, after Iran tested missiles multiple times, the Trump administration slapped new sanctions on Tehran.
Yes, the Islamic Republic pays a heavy price for testing long-range missiles.
But, how accurate are Iran’s claims of its capabilities? How real are the threats of its supposed new, advanced weaponry? And why would the mullahs continue to engage in these missile tests when they pay for it on the world stage every time they do?
Several months ago, Iran announced the manufacturing of three missiles — the Khorramshahr, Qadir and Sejil — claiming they had high-level accuracy, landing less than 10 meters away from their intended targets. On Jan. 29, Tehran test-launched an intermediate-range Khorramshahr ballistic missile, but technicians were forced to self-destruct the vessel, as the range-error was proven to be embarrassingly significant (the projectile was headed for dozens of kilometers off target) and threatened to cause civilian casualties. This was the fate of a missile that Iran boasted had pinpoint accuracy.
Iran also bloviates about manufacturing the Fajr missile series, which are nothing but replicas of Russian World War II designs. The notion that those missiles could have pinpoint accuracy is far-fetched, as they are useless in today’s world.
The truth is that Iran is facing major domestic crises and foreign challenges throughout the Middle East, making it all the more necessary for its leaders to use military tests, including staging different Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) drills and engaging in various missile launches. Then, as new sanctions were imposed, Iran understood it could no longer repeat major ballistic missile tests, and instead resorted to using terms like “smart rockets with precision accuracy” or “anti-helicopter mines.” Too bad we live in a world in which helicopters are targeted using state-of-the-art laser-guided missiles, not mines.
Iran received a major blow from the nuclear deal sealed with the international community, which forced it to exhibit strength and engage in these over-blown missile tests. The irony is that the deal also forced the regime’s Foreign Ministry to insist that the Iranian missile program is entirely defensive in nature, taking the bite out of the mullahs’ posturing about power.
However, there are parties benefiting from Iran’s rocket program, namely the regime’s proxy militia groups, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Badr Organization, Asaeb a-l Haq and Kataeb Hezbollah in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen and many others. The IRGC, which controls Iran’s missile drives, recently established underground missile-production factories for Hezbollah, which sits close to Israel’s northern border. This is all part of Iran’s destabilizing campaign in the region.
It is very challenging to reach conclusions about the reality behind the mullahs’ rhetoric, of the true character of the moves they make. But, if the international community is truly serious about taking significant and meaningful action to curb and ultimately uproot the Iranian missile threat, designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization is the correct path forward. Such a step would quickly curb Iran’s missile threat and bring the entire Middle East closer to peace and stability.