Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced that it had test-launched several ballistic missiles at sites across the country on Tuesday, the third time that it has violated UN Security Council bans on such tests in five months.
“Our main enemies are imposing new sanctions on Iran to weaken our missile capabilities…but they should know that the children of the Iranian nation in the Revolutionary Guards and other armed forces refuse to bow to their excessive demands,” IRGC aerospace commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner indicated that the U.S. would seek an “appropriate response” to the incident at the UN. “We also continue to aggressively apply our unilateral tools to counter threats from Iran’s missile program,” he added, an apparent reference to the imposition of new sanctions against Iran.
The missiles tested are called Qiam, according to the IRGC-linked website Tasnim News, and were fired as part of drills called “Might of Velayat.” Velayat-e Faqih, meaning “rule of the jurisprudent,” is the form of government instituted by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first Supreme Leader of Iran.
UN Security Council resolution 2231, which undergirds the nuclear deal Iran reached with global powers last year, calls on the country not to develop ballistic missiles, which are capable of delivering nuclear warheads. Despite this, Iran repeatedly announced that it would defy the ballistic missile elements of the resolution, and conducted missile tests last October and November.
The White House’s inaction after the October launch prompted 11 Democratic senators to write a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing their “profound concern,” adding that they were “convinced that the launch is an attempt to test the world’s will to respond to Iranian violations of its international commitments.” Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama in December criticizing his administration’s lack of response to both launches and emphasizing the threat that Iran’s advanced missiles pose to the U.S. and its allies.
The terms of the nuclear deal prevent the U.S. from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, but Kerry told a Senate hearing in July that the Iranians agreed “that we have all other kinds of authorities” to impose sanctions for non-nuclear violations, such as those related to ballistic missiles.
The administration announced sanctions on Iran at the end of last year after the UN determined that the launch had been in violation of its resolutions, only to delay them until January after Iran complained. Even so, the sanctions, which targeted a dozen businesses and individuals, were described by experts as the “bare minimum.”
A video purporting to show the launch of a ballistic missile from an underground IRGC “missile city” has been uploaded to YouTube and is embedded below. Note that at the beginning of the video, the floor of the underground facility appears to be decorated with an Israeli flag.
[Photo: Persian_boy / YouTube ]