Senior Iranian Cleric: We Increase Missile Range to Target Israel, “Deprive White House of Sleep”

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Dec 8, 2017
Senior Iranian Cleric: We Increase Missile Range to Target Israel, “Deprive White House of Sleep”

During Friday prayer in Tehran today, a senior Iranian cleric said that the Islamic Republic will further enhance the range and power of its ballistic missiles to threaten America and annihilate Israel, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported. “We have missiles and we produce missiles. And we increase the range of our missiles as much as we can so that we deprive the residents of the White House of sleep. And will do so,” said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the substitute Friday prayer leader of Tehran appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. “We are seeking to enhance the power of our missiles so one day if the senseless Zionist regime wants to commit a mistake, we demolish Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” the senior member of Iran’s Expediency Council added. Khatami is close to Khamenei and is among potential successors of the Supreme Leader.

Comment: Khatami’s remarks discredit statements by other Iranian officials that the country’s defense doctrine limits its ballistic missile range to 2,000 kilometers. "Based on the policies specified by the Leader (Khamenei), the range of our missiles is limited to 2,000km, but we have the capability to increase the range; yet at present it is sufficient because the Americans are in a 2,000km radius from our country and their attacks will be responded," Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards, said on October 31. In September, Iran unveiled a new ballistic missile, dubbed Khorramshahr, with a range of 2,000 kilometer and capable of carrying multiple warheads, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported.

What is also worth noting in Khatami’s remarks is that he advocates that Iran produce intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States in the future.

The deputy I.R.G.C. commander recently also threatened to put Europe within Iran’s missile range if European powers cooperated with Washington against Tehran. “If we have kept the range of our missiles up to 2,000 kilometers and have not increased it, it is not because of technological limitations. This is because we have a strategic doctrine for the range of our missiles,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said in a television interview. “Therefore, the Europeans should know that if they threaten us, we will increase the range of our missiles,” he added, according to I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.

While the nuclear agreement does not address Iran’s missile program, the subsequent U.N. 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 U.S. 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 U.N. resolution.