Iran intends to produce the powerful explosive Octogen for use in the warheads of its missiles to improve their “destructive and penetration power,” Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said Wednesday.
Octogen is used as an explosive in penetrating missile warheads and as a solid rocket fuel — but is also employed as part of the detonator in an atomic bomb.
During a ceremony to inaugurate a Octogen production plant, Dehqan stressed Iran’s goal of gaining the know-how to make the explosive material in order to avoid relying on external sources.
“Concurrently with its efforts to increase the precision-striking power of its weapons systems, the Defense Ministry has also paid attention to boosting the destructive and penetration power of different weapons’ warheads and has put on its agenda the acquisition of the technical know-how to produce Octogen explosive materials and Octogen-based weapons,” he said, according to a report from the semi-official FARS news agency.
Western powers have called on the UN to take action against Iran over tests of ballistic missiles carried out on March 9, noting they threatened Israel.
Under a UN Security Council resolution passed alongside a landmark nuclear deal last year, Iran is forbidden to develop weapons that can carry nuclear weapons.
That would seem to include ballistic missiles, including two that were tested last month with the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth” emblazoned on one, according to the US and other Western powers.
Dehqan complained that the West is preventing countries from helping Iran in technical matters and said, “We should endeavor to reinvigorate our infrastructures in the defense industries, reduce dependence and use domestic industries.”
The minister’s comments came as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Western nations of being untrustworthy, in comments to members of the cabinet and senior parliamentary and judiciary figures in Tehran on Wednesday, FARS reported.
“The Americans cannot be trusted and, in addition to the Americans, certain other Western states are also the same; hence, we should put trust in our own abilities and the US officials’ positions and performance is also a confirmation of the same fact,” Khamenei said.
Khamenei has in the past repeatedly accused the West of reneging on its commitments in the nuclear deal, maintaining that many international companies continue to avoid working with Iran out of fear of the US.
The nuclear agreement, passed in July 2015 and implemented in January, lifted punishing economic sanctions and has allowed Iran to forge fresh economic and diplomatic ties with the West. In return Iran agreed to dismantle the weapons-capable aspects of its nuclear program.
At the end of March the US, France, Britain and Germany and three allies called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to formulate an “appropriate response” to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests, which they say were carried out in defiance of the UN resolution.
The letter called the launches “destabilizing and provocative” and says the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile and Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile that were fired are “inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
Israel also called for punitive action against Iran following the tests.
Iran maintains that because it cannot develop nuclear weapons under the deal, no missile is capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.