Iranian Officials Express Foreign Policy Ambition after Ballistic Missile Tests

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, IRGC Commander

The missiles were said to be fired at targets in the southeast of Iran, approximately 1,400 kilometers away from their point of launch. The potential range for the most advanced of the three weapons is reportedly 2,000 kilometers, and on Wednesday the head of the IRGC boasted that most of the country’s missiles are capable of reaching Israel.

All three weapons are reportedly capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and it is this fact that makes their testing a clear violation of UN resolutions, although Iranian officials have defended themselves by saying that none of Iran’s ballistic missiles are “designed for” this purpose. The Iranians have also explicitly stated that they have no intention of abiding by foreign restrictions on the country’s ballistic missile program or its conventional weapon stockpiles.

This defiance was strongly reiterated on Thursday, when IRGC chief Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told state media that “Iran’s missile program will not stop under any circumstances.” The Blaze also reports that Hossein Jaberi Ansari, a spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not compromise over its security and defensive power.”

The Blaze also notes that the Israeli foreign ministry has used the ballistic missile tests as the basis for raising questions about Iran’s willingness to comply with the nuclear agreement. Other opponents of the Islamic Republic have raised similar concerns, as well as using the tests and subsequent IRGC comments to justify doubts about Tehran’s overall trustworthiness.

Newsmax quotes former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden as saying that these and other recent Iranian actions are indicative of the fact that nothing has noticeably changed in the country’s behavior or policies, even in spite of the optimism that arose in some Western policy circles as a result of the July 14 nuclear agreement.

Hayden acknowledged that Iranian missile technology is still some way off from posing a direct threat to the US, but he noted that with cooperation from anti-Western powers like North Korea, the Islamic Republic has steadily expanded its reach in the Middle Eastern region, in turn putting more and more pressure on Israel.

This has been accomplished not only through the continued growth of the Iranian ballistic missile program but also through the country’s leveraging of its conventional weapons development and its financing of regional terrorist groups. Iranian officials routinely make public claims about major advancements in their military technology and development. Although the plausibility of these claims tends to vary from one announcement to another, the announcements suggest the intention of intimidating adversaries and perhaps expanding upon existing operations in foreign territory.

Informed sources  reported upon the latest such announcement on Thursday, indicating that Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the head of the IRGC’s naval forces, had headed a ceremony on that day to unveil new Iranian missile boats and to declare the country’s intention to greatly expand the strength and international reach of its navy. Fadavi claimed that Iran would begin domestic production in the forthcoming Iranian calendar year, which begins on March 21, on boats capable of traveling at 80 knots and equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and cannons.

At the same ceremony, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan reportedly said that this new line of naval vessels would engage in operations in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman and ultimately contribute to efforts to “have a bigger presence in international waters.”

These sorts of statements, along with the defiant ballistic missile tests, allow for some of Iran’s critics to argue that the nation’s confrontations with the West have only worsened since the conclusion of nuclear negotiations. Such claims go somewhat beyond Hayden’s remarks about unchanging behavior, and they also tend to align with similarly dire assessments of the domestic situation in Iran