Defiant Iran Says No One Will Stop It From Developing Ballistic Missiles

By Patrick Goodenough | August 24, 2015 | 4:25 AM EDT

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani unveils the new Fateh 313 short-range surface-to-surface missile on Saturday, August 22, 2015. (Photo: Iran Presidency)

( – Iran reaffirmed at the weekend that it will scorn any international attempts to restrain its missile program, unveiling a new missile and announcing it will soon hold large-scale ballistic missile war-games.

President Hasan Rouhani said Iran would seek no one’s permission to buy or develop the weapons it needs.. Appearing on state television,he said that only when Iran is “powerful and capable” can it negotiate constructively with other countries.

War and aggression are imposed on weak countries and they can never sustain their security, he said.

Rouhani unveiled the Fateh 313, an Iranian-designed solid fuel surface-to-surface missile boasting a range of 500 kilometers (310 miles). The presidency said the missile has been successfully tested, and will now be mass-produced by the defense ministry.

Also speaking on state TV, Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan shrugged off any international pressure aimed at reining in the missile program.

“We will design and produce any missiles that we want proportionate to threats and we will conduct drills and tests in due time,” he said. “No element can weaken our resolve in the defensive field.”

Tehran’s focus on missiles comes as the Obama administration lobbies to win congressional support for the nuclear deal which the U.S. and five other powers reached with Iran last month – an agreement that set an eight-year expiration date on U.N. sanctions relating to Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Even ahead of that point in eight years’ time, Iran maintains that there are no constraints on its missile development program, pointing out that the U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear agreement refers only to missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

(The resolutions states: “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology” – for eight years.)

“In the new resolution they have asked Iran not to design nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, something that we are not looking for at all,” Dehghan said.

“We design ballistic, cruise, and defensive missiles in accordance with our needs and the range of our missiles will be proportional to the threat element.”

Despite Iran’s assertion that its ballistic missiles are not designed to carry non-conventional payloads – and so are not covered by the Security Council resolution – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has reported to Congress that the intelligence community assesses Iran’s ballistic missiles to be “inherently capable of delivering WMD.”

“We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” Clapper said in the latest worldwide threat assessment, released earlier this year.

“Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.

Iran’s progress on space launch vehicles – along with its desire to deter the United States and its allies – provides Tehran with the means and motivation to develop longer-range missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) aerospace force, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said on Friday the force is following supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s orders to  continue developing defense capabilities and military might, and is planning ballistic missiles war-games soon, “to be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies.”

Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile capabilities include the Soumar ground-launched cruise missile (reported range about 1,500 miles); Qadr/Khadr (reported range of 1,120 miles); surface-to-surface Sejjil missile (reported range of about 1,242 miles; and the Shahab-3 (reported range about 1,242 miles), which experts say is a variant of the North Korean Nodong missile.

Meanwhile Dehghan, the defense minister, also announced that the delayed delivery of Russian S300 surface-to-air missiles would take place before the end of the year. Russian President Vladimir Putin last April lifted a five year-old ban on the sale.

The Russian system is designed to protect military bases and infrastructure against attack by enemy aircraft, and Iran has long wanted to deploy it to shield its nuclear infrastructure from the possibility of Israeli or U.S. strikes.

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow