The six Zolfaghar missiles, which were unveiled last September, can carry cluster warheads and have a range of 700 kilometers (435 miles). The projectiles were fired some 600 kilometers (370 miles) from Iranian territory into Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which oversees Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program, indicated that the missiles were meant to strike an ISIS command center and suicide car bomb facility.
Although the missile strikes were said to be in retaliation for a terror attack claimed by ISIS in Tehran earlier this month, an Iranian general said that they also sent a message to other adversaries. “The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message,” Gen. Ramazan Sharif told Iranian state television. “Obviously and clearly, some reactionary countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia, had announced that they are trying to bring insecurity into Iran.”
The mid-range missiles are the first launched by the Islamic Republic in 30 years. They come in the wake of the overwhelming passage of a Senate bill to impose sanctions on the IRGC and Iran for its ballistic missile program and support for terror.
Iran has alleged that the Senate bill violated the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.
However, then Secretary of State John Kerry was emphatic at a Senate hearing two years ago that non-nuclear sanctions would not violate the nuclear deal, saying, “all of our other sanctions authorities remain in place, they are unaffected by this agreement, and Iran only said, if you read what it says, that they would treat the imposition of new nuclear related sanctions as the grounds to cease performing. But they are clear and we are clear that we have all other kinds of authorities and let me specific on that because it’s important for this whole debate to be clear. Even with the lifting of sanctions after eight years on missiles or five year on arms are the UN sanctions. It’s only the UN sanctions. We still have sanctions.”
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