The powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has established a third underground ballistic missile production facility in southwestern Iran, the semi-official Fars News agency reported Thursday.
Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC’s airspace program, told the Iranian outlet that the country would continue its ballistic missile program despite international criticism.
The facility was under construction for years, Hajizadeh told Fars.
Alongside the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that “called upon [Iran] not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
However, Tehran has interpreted that call to be a suggestion, and has carried out multiple ballistic missile tests since the passage of the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Since taking office, US President Donald Trump has been adamant about the need to curb Iran’s weapons development programs, with the White House “officially putting Iran on notice” earlier this year.
Hajizadeh responded to Trump’s tough words on Iran.
“We are increasing our missile capabilities,” he said. “It is natural that our enemies America and [Israel] are concerned and angry about the missile production and missile tests and showing our ‘missile cities’ because they want the Iranian nation always to be in a weak position.”
Many of Iran’s ballistic missiles are stored in so-called “missile cities,” underground storage facilities where they are kept to protect them from airstrikes.
Trump has also encouraged the formation of an anti-Iran coalition consisting of Sunni Muslim nations, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
On Saturday, Trump signed a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia worth approximately $110 billion, including the advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles.
In his interview, Hajizadeh said he was not concerned by the recent arms deal to its Saudi enemies, as he was “confident” that the weapons would be used not against the Islamic Republic, but against Israel.
The Jewish state has expressed some moderate concern over the supposedly largest-ever arms deal to Saudi Arabia. However, the issues raised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have less to do with the systems being sold to Riyadh in particular, but rather to a general “arms race” in the Middle East and the potential threat to Israel’s military edge in the region.
Avi Davidi contributed to this report.