Iran’s ballistic missile program and the preparedness of Iran’s armed forces are deterring the United States from launching a long sought-after military offensive against the Islamic Republic, a top Iranian general said Sunday, according to state-run media.
“Do you think that the US isn’t interested in attacking the Islamic Republic of Iran? (of course it is) But when it sees the Iranian soldiers whose fingers are on the trigger and hears the roaring of our missiles and helicopters, this acts as a deterrence,” Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told reporters in Tehran.
Describing the US as Iran’s main enemy, Pourdastan, the Iranian army’s ground forces commander, said Tehran faced “new forms of threats from proxy mercenaries acting on behalf of the imperial powers in the region.”
Last week, FOX News reported that Iran had conducted its fourth ballistic missile test since it signed the nuclear deal with world powers last year.
Tehran’s new ballistic missile, made using North Korean technology, exploded shortly after launch outside the city of Isfahan overnight Tuesday, intelligence officials told the media outlet.
According to the report, the maximum range of the missile is 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers), more than twice the distance between Tehran and Jerusalem.
The launch came days ahead of the anniversary of the nuclear rapprochement deal, signed on July 14 between the Islamic Republic and major world powers.
Though not banned by the 2015 agreement, the launch violated United Nations resolution 2231, calling on Tehran to refrain from ballistic missiles development, including testing, for eight years.
Iran has maintained it never sought to acquire nuclear weapons and never will, and the agreement does not prohibit legitimate and conventional military activities.
Earlier this month, Tehran said it would continue its ballistic missile program even after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the missile tests were not in the spirit of the nuclear deal.
In his first semi-annual report to the UN Security Council on implementation of a resolution endorsing the deal, Ban called on Iran to stop conducting ballistic missile launches. He said such actions could increase tensions in the Middle East.
In response, Iran’s foreign ministry doubled down, saying that its missile program was not linked to the nuclear deal and did not conflict with the UN Security Council resolution endorsing the agreement.
“Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations,” a statement posted on Iran’s foreign ministry website on July 8 said.
Resolution 2231 “calls upon” Iran not to launch any ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. But when several Iranian test-firings were raised in the Security Council in March, Russia said the launches did not violate the resolution because “a call” is not a demand.
The resolution, which was adopted on July 20, 2015, authorized measures leading to the end of UN sanctions.
When the UN nuclear agency certified in mid-January that Iran had met all of its commitments under the nuclear deal, many Western economic sanctions that had been in place for years were lifted, unlocking access to some $100 billion in frozen assets and sparking a rush of high-level visits by Western leaders, as well as business deals. But Iran is still subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions, and the UN resolution includes a provision that would automatically reinstate sanctions if Tehran reneges on its promises.
The US, France, Britain and Germany in March called for the Security Council to discuss “appropriate responses” to Iran’s ballistic missile activity, which they said were “destabilizing and provocative.”
But no action has been taken, and the divisions in the council on whether the ballistic missile launches violated the UN resolution make it unlikely that Iran will face new sanctions.