IRGC says Iran has tripled missile production in defiance of Western demands

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Mar 7, 2018
IRGC says Iran has tripled missile production in defiance of Western demands

A senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said today that Iran has increased its missile and defense-related production three-fold despite mounting pressure by the United States and its allies, Tasnim News Agency reported. “The enemy’s actions and confrontation with us as well as their efforts to limit our defense power have backfired. In the past, we needed to convince the parliament and the government in this regard, but now all government officials are actively working on this and our production has increased three-fold compared to the past,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the chief commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, told a conference on the significance of fighting for the Islamic revolution. Speaking to reporters after the conference, the IRGC commander added: "Today we are among the first five countries in the fields of air defense, radar, smart bombs and drones and we are among the first ten world states in other related areas,” emphasizing that “this path should continue.” 

Separately, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy chief commander of the IRGC, echoed a similar view today at an exhibition of the IRGC’s latest military products. He stressed that Iran’s technological progress in producing missiles and other military hardware cannot be restrained and called for collective action by all centers of power inside the country to resist American and European pressure. 

Likewise on Tuesday, Yadollah Javani, an advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative at the IRGC, said Tehran will not succumb to Western pressures. "The westerners imagine that the same way that the sanctions and pressures made Iran come to the negotiating table over its nuclear issue, the country will negotiate on its missile program too, but it is a miscalculation," Javani noted. "Missile talks mean inching closer to war," he warned. 

Comment: Since signing the nuclear accord with world powers nearly three years ago, the Islamic Republic has increased the production of advanced military hardware and has test-fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles. According to Iranian military officials, the country has also increased the range, precision and longevity of its ballistic missiles. In addition to missiles, Iran’s arms production capacity has seen a staggering 100-fold increase in the past five years. 

The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions on Iranian entities invovled in the country's missile program and has threatened to walk away from the nuclear agreement with Iran if US Congress and European allies fail to fix the loopholes of the deal. Curbing Iran's ballistic missile program is one of the administration's key requirement to remain a party of the nuclear deal. 

So far, Tehran have rejected any compromise ont the missile issue. As Hajizadeh indicated, there is a consensus among all Iranian leaders to resist Western pressure and continue the country’s controversial missile program. President Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly said that his government would seek no one’s permission to build missiles and upgrade the country’s defense capabilities. Indeed, the government budget to upgrade the country’s defense capabilities, including ballistic missile program, has seen an increase of at least 2.5 percent under Rouhani compared to the Ahmadinejad administration. 

Tehran expected a tougher approach by the Trump administration regarding its missile program. But what has worried Tehran recently is that although European powers want to keep and implement the nuclear deal and oppose any effort by the Trump administration to undermine the deal, they have expressed a willingness to work with Washington to pressure Tehran on the missile issue. French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested that the nuclear deal can be "supplemented" by a side agreement with Tehran on the missile dispute, but Tehran has rejected the offer. When French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Tehran this week, he raised the missile topic with Iranian leaders, but he received a negative response from Iranian military and civilan leaders alike. 

While the nuclear agreement does not address Iran’s missile program, a subsequent UN Security Council Resolution 2231 “calls 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.” Iranian leaders argue that the country’s missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, but US officials say some of the missiles Iran has tested after the 2015 nuclear deal have been "inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons" and are "in defiance of" the UN resolution.