On Monday, in “Iran Openly Flouts Obama, Launches New Ballistic Missile,” we highlighted the The Emad, Tehran's first precision-guided, ballistic missile with the capability and range to hit Israel. The weapon is a liquid-propelled rocket with a range of 1,056 miles, is apparently accurate to within about 1,600 feet, and can carry a 1,653-pound payload.
Iran test-fired the Emad last weekend. Here’s footage of the launch:
And here’s an excerpt from our analysis putting it in context given recent events:
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.
As Michael Elleman of the US Institute Of Peace (and yes, we're aware that there's something oxymoronic about the name of that organization) reminds us, "Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East."
Here's a rundown of their arsenal, again from USIP:
- Shahab missiles: Since the late 1980s, Iran has purchased additional short- and medium-range missiles from foreign suppliers and adapted them to its strategic needs. The Shahabs, Persian for “meteors,” were long the core of Iran’s program. They use liquid fuel, which involves a time-consuming launch. They include:
- The Shahab-1 is based on the Scud-B. (The Scud series was originally developed by the Soviet Union). It has a range of about 300 kms or 185 miles
- The Shahab-2 is based on the Scud-C. It has a range of about 500 kms, or 310 miles. In mid-2010, Iran is widely estimated to have between 200 and 300 Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 missiles capable of reaching targets in neighboring countries.
- The Shahab-3 is based on the Nodong, which is a North Korean missile. It has a range of about 900 km or 560 miles. It has a nominal payload of 1,000 kg. A modified version of the Shahab-3, renamed the Ghadr-1, began flight tests in 2004. It theoretically extends Iran’s reach to about 1,600 km or 1,000 miles, which qualifies as a medium-range missile. But it carries a smaller, 750-kg warhead.
- Although the Ghadr-1 was built with key North Korean components, Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani boasted at the time, “Today, by relying on our defense industry capabilities, we have been able to increase our deterrent capacity against the military expansion of our enemies.”
- Sajjil missiles: Sajjil means “baked clay” in Persian. These are a class of medium-range missiles that use solid fuel, which offer many strategic advantages. They are less vulnerable to preemption because the launch requires shorter preparation – minutes rather than hours. Iran is the only country to have developed missiles of this range without first having developed nuclear weapons.
- This family of missiles centers on the Sajjil-2, a domestically produced surface-to-surface missile. It has a medium-range of about 2,000 km or 1,200 miles when carrying a 750-kg warhead. It was test fired in 2008 under the name, Sajjil. The Sajjil-2, which is probably a slightly modified version, began test flights in 2009. This missile would allow Iran to “target any place that threatens Iran,” according to Brig. Gen. Abdollah Araghi, a Revolutionary Guard commander.
- The Sajjil-2, appears to have encountered technical issues and its full development has slowed. No flight tests have been conducted since 2011. IfSajjil-2 flight testing resumes, the missile’s performance and reliability could be proven within a year or two. The missile, which is unlikely to become operational before 2017, is the most likely nuclear delivery vehicle—if Iran decides to develop an atomic bomb. But it would need to build a bomb small enough to fit on the top of this missile, which would be a major challenge.
- The Sajjil program’s success indicates that Iran’s long-term missile acquisition plans are likely to focus on solid-fuel systems. They are more compact and easier to deploy on mobile launchers. They require less time to prepare for launch, making them less vulnerable to preemption by aircraft or other missile defense systems.
- Iran could attempt to use Sajjil technologies to produce a three-stage missile capable of flying 3,700 km or 2,200 miles. But it is unlikely to be developed and actually fielded before 2017.
Now that you have an idea of what Tehran's capabilities are, we present the following video which gives you an inside look at one of Tehran's secret underground missile facilities preceded by some color from Sputnik:
The state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) channel was permitted to enter the base, located 500 meters below ground, and shoot the vido, which was aired on Wednesday, The Tehran Times newspaper reported.
Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said during a visit to the site that
“Iranian missiles of varying ranges are ready to be launched from underground bases once Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei orders to do so.”
He added that Iran had built a number of missile arsenals throughout the country at depths of 500 meters.
“We are not worried if the enemies of the Islamic Revolution use the newest and most advanced generations of satellites and spying equipment,” Hajizadeh emphasized.
He further said that Iran plans to replace the current home-made missiles with new generations of long-range, advanced missiles, which run on liquid and solid fuel.
“Those who threaten Iran with their military option on the table would better take a look at Iran’s ‘options under the table,’ namely the missile arsenals. Iran’s known military power is only the tip of the iceberg."
By the way, happy "Adoption Day" (via CNN):
It's Sunday, October 18, the day the Iran nuclear deal gets rolling.
"Adoption Day" for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally called, means that officials from Iran, the United States and other world powers involved in the deal get started turning it into reality.