Irans’s Ballistic Buildup

On May 9, a panel discussion occurred in Washington, on the topic of: Iran’s Ballistic Missile Buildup.

To moderate this well-timed event, Dr. Ali Safavi welcomed Ms. Rebeccah Heinrichs, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. There she specializes in nuclear deterrence, missile defense, and counter-proliferation. And she has also testified before Congress.

Alireza Jafarzadeh gave the initial substantive address. He is a Fox News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst, and known for having uncovered Iran’s nuclear weapons program, particularly since 2002.

All the panelists made a few key points. Mr. Jafarzadeh made three:

First, is the state sponsorship of terrorism, by funding terrorist groups in the region, and militias. The other is the nuclear weapons program of the Iranian regime. And the third element is the ballistic missile program.

These are critical issues for the survival of the Iran regime and that’s why they have never abandoned any of these three elements, nor would they ever abandon them. And if they’re weaker in one area, they try to make up for it in the other two aspects.

Ms. Heinrich commented on Jafarzadeh. She said, the point you made about how non-nuclear ballistic missiles can have strategic effects is incredibly important: One of the arguments that President Obama’s chief negotiator made about the ballistic missiles was that nuclear ballistic missiles would be covered by the deal. But then the logic went off-base: If we handle the nuclear problem, therefore, none of the missiles are nuclear missiles, leaving the ballistic missiles outside the deal.

But, as Jafarzadeh said: They still can have strategic effects.

Then, Amb. (Ret.) Joseph DeTrani said, “Iran has the largest and the most diverse missile arsenal when you think of it. The most diverse, the largest. Thousands, we’re talking about thousands of short and medium range ballistic missiles. These are missiles that can hit Israel, Egypt, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece. We’re talking about reach, so these missiles have reach.

And Prof. Matthew Kroenig asked, “what is the threat posed by the Iranian ballistic missile program”; then he spoke about ramifications and our ability to deal with the threat through the nuclear deal with Iran. And then three, Kroenig prescribed what we may do going forward. He asked, “Where is the leverage you are going to use to convince the Iranian regime to put more limits on its program?”

Although Kroenig didn’t say it, as such, implicit in his remarks and participation in a panel sponsored by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is the effect of American economic, political, and technological support to NCRI, as the main opposition group opposing unelected Ayatollahs.

That is, oppositionists can pressure the regime to effect regime change from within. Doing so, provides leverage to convince the Tehran to place more limits on its ballistic missile program. See Tanter: “Protests inside Iran might result in Iran being amenable to addressing holes in the deal, even though America is formally on the outside.”

Consider the statement of Olli Heinonen, a former inspector who inspected Iran, for the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said, “we should visit those sunset provisions [time in which Iran can lawfully acquire the Bomb, about ten years, after agreeing to the nuclear deal in 2015], and make sure that the IAEA has adequate authority to have access to people, equipment, and military sites upon the need and with sophistication, so we can get assurances Iran is fully complying its…obligations.”

Finally, Amb. (Ret.) Robert Joseph added, “Ballistic missiles are a means, are the primary means of delivery for nuclear weapons. The fact that Iran has an ICBM program, and the only purpose of an ICBM program is to deliver a nuclear weapon, I think is very important and must be considered, because what the administration is saying is that… [its] no longer willing to pretend Iran is not moving forward with a capability to build and delivery nuclear warheads.”

Moreover Joseph ended by referring to the president’s “…outreach to the Iranian people and his stated support for their aspirations, for democracy, and for human rights.” The Iranian people are the number one threat to the regime — a regime that cannot reform and will not reform. Ultimately the people of Iran will end of this rogue regime. Doing so, will resolve the nuclear and missile proliferation threats as well as the broader Iranian threats.

Now let us return, as we began, to Jafarzadeh. He said,

So to sum up, there are the 15 military sites associated with the Aerospace Industry Organization, and 27 associated with Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The three work together. They’re part and parcel of a broader strategy for survival of the Iranian regime. We cannot deal with the nuclear program without addressing the missile program, can’t deal with the nuclear program without taking account policies of Tehran supporting and sponsoring terrorism in the region.

The regime is still engulfed in large scale protests, from December of 2017, and they are continuing; they’re expanding to 142 cities. The economy is in shambles. Corruption is rampant, so even funds returned due to the nuclear deal didn’t help the economy. Rather, that money helped IRGC fund their operations in the other part of the country and the region.

Bottom line: No matter what policies are being pursued, at the end of the day, the long-term solution, the lasting solution to the threat of the Iran regime change. The people are calling for it inside Iran, change by the people of Iran. That’s where we’re going to see all those three threats addressed.

What a well-timed event! The president pulled out from the nuclear deal on May 8, 2018; the ballistic missile panel occurred on May 9; and protests continue to rage. This convergence is noteworthy. The panel, withdrawal, and protests act to place maximum pressure on the Iranian regime.

Prof. Raymond Tanter (@ProfRTanter) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal,, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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