One of the truly interesting things about Iran’s stepped up involvement in Syria (be it through Tehran’s various Shiite militias, the Quds, or most visibly, via Hezbollah) is that it demonstrates an outright disregard for the nuclear deal.
That’s certainly not an attempt to scold Iran. In fact, it’s never been entirely clear why Washington gets to play world nuclear police with Tehran when history has definitively proven that if there’s any country that can’t be trusted with nuclear bombs, it’s the US.
That said, the Ayatollah’s ravings leave something to be desired when it comes to diplomacy and if you’re going to threaten to wipe entire countries off the map you shouldn’t necessarily be surprised when those other countries try to prevent you from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Well the ink on the deal is barely dry and not only has Iran i) effectively invaded Syria, and ii) flouted inspectors at Parchin, they’ve now test-fired a long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile. Here’s WSJ:
Iran test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles on Sunday, its state news agency reported, a move that could complicate the implementation of the country’s July nuclear deal even as its parliament ratified the historic pact’s outlines.
Iran tested a long-range missile called the Emad, which Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said was capable of precise control, according to a report from the Islamic Republic News Agency.
“We don’t ask anyone’s permission to enhance our defense power or missile capability and will firmly pursue our defense plans, particularly in the field of missiles,” Mr. Dehghan said.
More, from The New York Times:
Iran tested a new guided long-range ballistic missile on Sunday, hours before Parliament, in a rowdy session, approved the generalities of the nuclear agreement reached in July between Iran and world powers, the state news agency IRNA reported.
The missile launch may have violated the terms of the agreement, reached in Vienna with six world powers. According to some readings of the deal, it placed restrictions on Iran’s ambitious missile program.
Experts have been debating the interpretation of a United Nations Security Council resolution, adopted a few days after the accord was agreed upon, that bars Iran from developing missiles “designed to carry nuclear warheads.”
As CNN goes on to report (or “suggest”, whichever is more accurate when you’re referring to Western media), the Emad will give Iran the capability to strike Israel for the first time:
The Emad would be Tehran's first precision-guided missile with the range to reach its enemy, Israel.
Israel is bitterly opposed to Iran's nuclear program, and observers have speculated that it could be prepared to launch pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear sites in an effort to derail their progress.
Dehqan said following the launch that the Emad would greatly increase Iran's strategic deterrence capability, state media reported.
Again, what’s always amusing about the Israel-Iran dynamic is how Israel is fond of threatening to launch “pre-emptive” strikes to prevent Iran from developing the capability to defend itself. As noted above, no one is apologizing for the Ayatollah’s extreme lack of decorum, but the notion of pre-emptively attacking another country because it’s trying to develop the weapons you already have is hypocrisy plain and simple. Here’s a bit more about the missile, again from CNN:
Anthony Cordesman, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in October last year that the Emad was a variant of Iran's existing Shahab-3 long-range missile, "but with a maneuvering reentry vehicle to improve system accuracy and complicate missile defense."
The liquid-propelled rocket had a range of 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles) and was accurate to within 500 meters (1,640 feet) of the target.
The rocket could carry a 750-kilogram (1,653-pound) payload and was scheduled for deployment some time after 2016, he wrote.
The Shahab-3 is based on the Nodong, a North Korean missile, according to a paper by Michael Elleman, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a UK-based think tank.
Cordesman's report said Tehran has been steadily developing its missile technology, focusing in particular on improvements to guidance systems.
Its existing missiles systems had "poor accuracy and uncertain reliability," he wrote, giving them limited military effectiveness.
The improving missile arsenal gave Tehran "a longer range strike capability that its aging air force largely lacks," he wrote.
Iran's air force, once the largest in the Gulf, degraded following the break with the West that occurred during the 1979 revolution, due to a lack of access to spare parts, maintenance and pilot training, according to Elleman.
Since then, Tehran has focused on developing its missile capability, and now boasts the "largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East," according to Elleman. Israel's stockpile was more capable, but smaller, he wrote.
And so the embarrassment of The White House's "historic" nuclear accord continues as Iran just simply doesn't care and will apparently continue to exploit any and all ambiguities to its advantage up to and including building new ballistic missle systems, an act which certainly goes against the spirit of the deal if not the letter.
But again, imposing crippling economic sanctions on countries in order to deter their defense buildup (Iran) or otherwise force them into acting in a way that fits your definition of being an internationally responsible country (Russia) is a fool's errand to the extent that it only serves to aggravate the situation and perpetuates still more of the very same behavior you're trying to deter in the first place. Need proof? Just see the picture shown above.