Iran

Report: German Intelligence Believes Iran Tested Nuclear-Capable Cruise Missile

German intelligence believes that Iran has tested a nuclear-capable cruise missile, the German newspaper Die Welt reported Thursday.

In addition to a ballistic missile test that Iran itself revealed, Germany believes that Iran also test-fired a Sumar cruise missile, which could have a range of 2,000-3,000 kilometers (1,250-1,875 miles) and could reach Germany at its maximum capability. In its test, the Sumar successfully traveled 600 kilometers (375 miles), a little less than half the distance to Israel.

Cruise missiles can travel at a lower altitude than ballistic missiles and also have radar-evading capabilities, making them harder to counter.

Iran may be pursuing this course because unlike with ballistic missiles, Iran is not explicitly banned by the United Nations Security Council from developing cruise missiles, a security expert explained to Die Welt.

However, if Iran is developing a nuclear-capable missile, it undercuts its claim, often made in defense of its ballistic missile program, that nuclear weapons have “no place” in Iran’s defense doctrine. The semi-official Tasnim news agency recently stated that “nuclear weapons have basically no place in the Islamic Republic’s defense doctrine.” A 2016 report (.pdf) from the Congressional Research Service quoted a number of high-ranking Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, making similar assertions.

The Sumar was unveiled in March 2015 and is based on the Russian Kh-55 missile.

German intelligence reports leaked in 2014 and 2015 showed that Iran sought to purchase technologies for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said Wednesday that in response to Iran’s ballistic missile testing and support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the United States was putting Iran “on notice” and would not tolerate Iran’s continued violations of international norms. President Donald Trump made similar comments over Twitter on Thursday morning:

Rep. Ed Royce (R – Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested on Wednesday that the Iran Sanctions Act allows the United States to pressure European and Asian businesses to stop dealing with Iranian companies owned by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which runs Iran’s ballistic missile program.

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