By INU Staff
INU - Iran launched a missile attack in the province of Deir ez-Zour last Sunday, allegedly against Islamic State militants. Tehran called this attack, which was reportedly the first time Iran used missiles since the Iran-Iraq War, a response to the ISIS attacks on the Iranian parliament and mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini earlier this month.
However, Zachary Keck, the former Managing Editor for The National Interest, writes in his article for that publication, “there’s little doubt that Tehran wanted to send a secondary message to the United States and its allies, especially given that U.S. forces have begun attacking Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria.”
In fact, a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Ramazan Sharif, told state-run media after the attacks, “The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message. Obviously and clearly, some reactionary countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia, had announced that they are trying to bring insecurity into Iran.”
The primary reason Tehran has amassed the largest ballistic missile forces in the Middle East is to deter regional adversaries from threatening Iran. The missile program began under the Shah, but it was accelerated during the Iran-Iraq War in order to threaten Saddam Hussein with strikes deep in Iraqi territory.
Iran has worked with countries like Libya, North Korea and China since then. Iran is attempting to develop a large and diverse arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles that form one part of its three-leg deterrent strategy. With Iran now using missiles in conflict, it’s important to know what weapons has available in its arsenal.
A list of Iran’s missile arsenal, includes Shahab-Series, which is the backbone of Iran's missile forces, and are mostly short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM). There is also the Fateh-series missiles, which are the solid-fueled counterparts of Shahab missiles. Additionally is the The Sejjil medium-range ballistic missile, was first tested in early 2011, and coincided with Iran announcing the completion of a long-range, passive radar covering a 1,100 kilometer-radius.
Providing a basic overview of these missile highlights the lethal capabilities of the IRGC. Ballistic missiles are the most important piece of Iran’s deterrent strategy, which also includes the use of proxies and asymmetric naval warfare, and is something that the U.S. Central Command must plan for, especially as Iran and the United States come closer to direct fighting in the Syrian Civil War.