Iran Has Missiles Capable of Carrying Nuclear Warheads

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This article was originally published on the Deutsche Welle website on January 31, 2019. You can read the full article (in persian) and access additional information by following this link.

Iran initially neither confirmed nor denied the missile test, but after a few days, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, confirmed the missile test without mentioning the type of missile. He also emphasized, “This test is very important for the Americans, who are shouting about it.”

One of the topics that the Islamic Republic emphasizes for propaganda about its defensive capabilities during the Iran-Iraq War is the discussion of self-sufficiency in missile production. This can be considered true, but contrary to extensive advertising, this self-sufficiency was not achieved during the Iran-Iraq War, and at that time, Iran was purchasing arms and missiles through countries or intermediary individuals.

Hashemi Rafsanjani said in an interview with Kayhan Air in 1366 (1987): “Iran was purchasing its arms and missiles through arms dealers, Western companies, either directly or indirectly.”

One of the arms dealers during the Iran-Iraq War who was buying arms and missiles for Iran was Manouchehr Ghorbanifar. Ghorbanifar, through Adnan Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s capitalists, purchased “Hawk” and “TOW” missiles for Iran.

During the war with Iraq, Iran sent its first missile team called “Hadid,” led by Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, to Syria for missile training in 1984. At the same time, the first missiles were provided to Iran by Libya and North Korea. Iran began its missile program in 1984 but managed to produce solid-fuel missiles with a range of 300 kilometers through reverse engineering in 1987.

In the early 1990s, Shahab 1 and 2 missiles were designed and produced, with ranges of 300 to 500 kilometers. The Islamic Republic had set its goal to achieve long-range missiles from that time.

In 1998, the Islamic Republic managed to obtain the first generation of Shahab 3 missile, Iran’s first long-range liquid-fueled missile with a range of 1100-1300 kilometers. Shahab 3 was designed and produced by Iran’s missile team. Along with the production and testing of Shahab 3, sensitivity began over Iran’s missile program.

One of the reasons for the concern of powerful countries and the region about Iran’s missile industry is the aggressive approach of the Islamic Republic’s officials; among them, Israel is more concerned about Iran’s missile capability. One of the reasons is the slogans of the Islamic Republic’s officials for the destruction of Israel and also the access and equipping of anti-Israel groups like Hezbollah with Iranian-made missiles.

In the 2000s, the Islamic Republic obtained long-range ballistic missiles with a range of 2000 kilometers, including “Sejjil, Qadr, Shahab B-3” missiles, but these missiles initially lacked sufficient accuracy. After designing long-range missiles, Iran focused its program on improving missile accuracy.
Hajjazi, the then Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, emphasized in April 2014: The Leader of Iran in 2009, when appointing the new commander of the Air and Space Force of the Revolutionary Guards, ordered to pursue missile accuracy, and the Revolutionary Guards’ missile team, under the command of Ayatollah Khamenei, focused on building and upgrading high-precision (point-targeting) ballistic missiles.

Concerns About Iran’s Long-Range Missiles

However, the development of Iran’s missile program has always been a concern for the United States and Europe. They fear that Iran might secretly produce missiles with a range of more than 3000 kilometers.

The former Minister of Defense, Dehghan, admitted in August 2015: “We do not make missiles with a range of more than 2000 kilometers,” and officials of the Islamic Republic have repeatedly referred to this point. But later that year, Iran tested missiles with a range of 2000 kilometers, including the long-range and point-targeting Qadr “F” and “H.”

But according to published information, Iran’s missiles, such as “Shahab-D3 or Qadr-110,” have a range of 2200 to 3000 kilometers. The Qadr-110 missile has the capability to target the farthest points in Europe and more than 70 percent of Asia. However, Iran has repeatedly denied this information and insists that it has no intention of producing missiles with a range of more than 2000 kilometers.

Officials of the Islamic Republic claim that Iran’s missile industry is indigenous, but the development of Iran’s missile industry is indebted to arms dealers and also Russia, which is the main supplier and transferor of technical knowledge and technology of ballistic missiles to the Islamic Republic.

In 2001, during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, a $300 million arms purchase agreement was concluded between Iran and Russia. The relationship between Iran and Russia did not only lead to the buying and selling of arms for receiving technical knowledge and technology of ballistic missiles; the expansion of economic and political relations with each other and short and long-term strategic cooperation were other achievements of the arms deal.

Considering the investment and planning of more than two decades by the Islamic Republic in the missile industry, it can now be said that Iran is among the top 20 missile powers in the world. Many military analysis websites rank Iran’s missile capability among the top 10 countries.

Iran Will Not Negotiate Over Its Missile Program

But every time Iran has conducted a missile operation, opponents and proponents of Iran’s missile program have debated on social media. One of the latest operations was the Revolutionary Guards’ missile attack on the “headquarters of the Ahvaz attack perpetrators” in Syria. At the same time, news of the fall of one of the fired missiles and a missile error was published.

Apart from the debate about the impact of this attack, missile system errors are not unique to Iran. For example, one instance was in December 2017 when a “false missile alert in Hawaii terrified the American people,” and another case occurred in November 2017 for the “American-made Patriot missile defense system” in Saudi Arabia.

Although European countries and the United States agree that there should be dialogue about Iran’s missile program, officials of the Islamic Republic oppose discussing the missile capability issue and always emphasize that their missile program is defensive and deterrent.

While the Islamic Republic has repeatedly referred to the words of the Leader of the Islamic Republic in 2010, stating that “the use of nuclear weapons is forbidden,” an interesting point in this fatwa is that Ayatollah Khamenei has never considered the production or acquisition of nuclear weapons to be forbidden.

Iran signed and implemented the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 2003, but according to a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Iran’s designed missiles have the capability to carry nuclear warheads. Also, the U.S. Department of State believes that the newly tested missile by the Revolutionary Guards has the ability to carry a nuclear warhead and target European countries.
The Islamic Republic has spent a lot in the past two decades to achieve missile capability, and the likelihood of it retreating on its missile capability is very low. However, it should be noted that increasing defensive capability is the right of any country to defend against aggression, but one of the reasons for the concern of regional countries and Israel about Iran’s missile program is the aggressive policies that Iran’s high-ranking and military officials adopt.

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