Iran's New Missile Cap Offer Is a Total Sham
Last week, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps declared that the country’s Supreme Leader had mandated "cap" on the range of Iran’s surface-to-surface ballistic missile force of 2,000 kilometers. According to U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, the regime can already “strike targets up to 2,000 kilometers from Iran’s borders,” a range sufficient to hit both U.S. military bases in the region as well as the entire state of Israel. In other words, the alleged cap on Iran’s ballistic missiles locks-in the threat, rather than rolling it back, while doing nothing to curtail the wide range of activities Iran is undertaking to improve its missile force. This includes a concerted but concealed effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability.
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Here is why the Supreme Leader is offering this empty gesture:
1 - It Fails to Limit the Increasing Mobility of Iran's Missile Arsenal
Despite being housed in underground depots, Iran has a fairly mobile ballistic missile force. This includes the ability to move these weapons across Iran on special trucks known as Transporter-Erector Launchers (TELs), making them easier to hide as well as capable of launching surprise attacks from remote locations. The production or procurement of these trucks should be impeded.
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2 - It Does Not Curtail Efforts to Improve Missile Reliability and Readiness
Solid-fuel propellants are desired by states who seek a more durable missile that can be fueled and then transported across the country. Moreover, solid-propellant missiles take less time to prepare before launch, making them less vulnerable to attack. Iran has been working to develop a solid-fuel, nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) via the Sejjil platform, which was last tested in 2011. An operational solid-fuel MRBM would pose a grave threat to Israel, to Iran’s Gulf neighbors and to U.S. military bases in the region. Iran might also consider looking to its partner in Pyongyang for this capability, given their longstanding missile ties.
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3 - It Doesn't Place Limits on the Iranian Space Program, Which Directly Contributes to the Development of ICBMs
Iran’s Safir and Simorgh Space Launch Vehicles (SLVs) directly contribute to Iran’s development of ICBMs. In February 2016, then-DNI James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran’s progress on SLVs “provides Tehran with the means and motivation to develop longer-range missiles, including ICBMs.” While not an ICBM itself, allowing Iran to grow its SLV program will help the regime attain an ICBM capability.
4 - It Does Not Prohibit the Development and Testing of New Nuclear-Capable Medium Range Ballistic and Cruise Missiles
Some examples of this include:
- Khorramshahr (MRBM)