The issue of Iran’s military ambitions will be one of the main topics discussed during the visit of US President Joe Biden to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The government in Tehran is constantly working on expanding the missile arsenal and, consequently, strengthening the position of its armed forces in the region. These plans keep the Americans and their Middle Eastern allies awake at night.
Just a day after Tehran and Washington resumed talks in February to revive the 2015 Vienna nuclear deal, Iran unveiled the latest medium-range missile of its own production, capable of reaching a target up to 1,450 kilometers away.
Iranian state television broadcast a report from the presentation of “Kheibar Shekan” – the latest ground-to-ground missile, the name of which (in free translation “Khajbar Slayer”) refers to an old Jewish oasis conquered in the 7th century by Arabs led by Muhammad himself. Today Khaybar is located in Saudi Arabia about 150 kilometers north of Medina.
The demonstration was intended to demonstrate the determination of the Islamic Republic of Iran to strengthen its army. The world powers are continuing their efforts to curb the development of the Iranian missile program, and to limit the enrichment of Iran’s uranium, which could ultimately lead to the construction of nuclear weapons.
Israel views Iran as a key threat. Tehran, on the other hand, says Iranian missiles with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers represent an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the United States, Israel and other potential threats in the region. Iran denies that its goal is to manufacture nuclear weapons.
In 2018, the then US president Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, demanding that Iran’s authorities join talks on a broader deal, which would also include issues of the missile program and Tehran’s support for its allies in the region.
The largest number of ballistic missiles in the region
Iran has not bowed to Trump’s demands. Below are some facts about the Iranian missile program, supplemented with cruise missiles and drones:
– Iran has the largest number of ballistic missiles in the region, according to the US Bureau of National Intelligence;
– the American non-governmental organization Arms Control Association, based in Washington, believes that the Iranian missile program relies heavily on technologies from North Korea and Russia, as well as backing from China;
Arms Control Association adds that the Iranian missile program, with around 1,000 short- and medium-range missiles, is one of the largest initiatives of this type in the Middle East; According to the organization, Tehran is currently working on improving the precision of medium-range missiles;
– among the short-range and medium-range missiles owned by Iran are, among others Shahab-1 with a range of up to 300 km, Zolfaghar (700 km), Shahab-3 (800-1000 km), as well as two missiles still under development: Emad-1 (2,000 km) and Sejiil (1,500-2,500 km) );
– Iran also has the Soviet-made Ch-55 Raduga maneuvering missiles (range up to 3,000 km) and the advanced Khalid Farzh anti-ship missiles (range up to 300 km), capable of carrying explosives weighing 1,000 kg.
Attacks in the region and Iran’s allies
Saudi Arabia and the United States say Iran is behind the 2019 attack on Aramco’s refineries with rockets and drones. Tehran denies these accusations.
The demonstration of Iranian power took place in March this year, when it launched a missile attack on the Iraqi city of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous District.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility for the attack. According to the Iranian side, the shells were targeted at Israeli “strategic centers”, thus suggesting that the attack was revenge for the Israeli air strikes in Syria that killed Iranian troops.
Yemeni allied with Iran Huti movement also improves its ballistic abilities. In January 2022, Houthi rebels launched rockets towards the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, and also launched a drone attack on Dubai.
One of the attacks on the US military base in the United Arab Emirates was repulsed by the Patriot missile systems, but the troops stationed there were forced to hide in bunkers. United States They accuse Iran of rearming the Houthi movement, but Tehran authorities deny the allegations.
The leader of the Iranian-backed Lebanese radical Hezbollah party, Hasan Nasr Allah, announced that his organization is capable of converting thousands of Lebanese missiles into precision missiles, as well as producing its own drones.
Hasan Nasr Allah said in February that Hezbollah was able to turn standard missiles into precision missiles in collaboration with “experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
As reported by the intelligence services of Israel and Western countries, over the past 11 years, Iran has provided the Bashar al-Assad regime with self-produced precision weapons, which the Syrian president has used to fight the rebels.
In addition, according to the same sources, the Iranians have transferred part of their arms production to underground factories in Syria, where Assad’s troops and other forces in alliance with Tehran produce their own missiles.
Israeli troops have made a series of raids on alleged shipments of weapons, as well as the aforesaid factories and weapons depots.
Main photo source: Shutterstock / saeediex