Iran launched a Fateh-110 Missile. (Hossein Velayati/Wikicommons)

Iran has test-fired a missile for the first time this year, in defiance of the US and in violation of UN resolutions. 

By: United with Israel Staff and AP

The Islamic Republic last week illicitly test-fired a ballistic missile, the first such test in 2018, Fox News reported Saturday.

According to the report, Iran’s testing of the Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missile from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) base in Bandar-e-Jask in the south of the country was detected by US spy satellites.

According to the officials quoted in the report, the anti-ship Fateh-110 Mod 3 flew over 100 miles on a flight path over the Strait of Hormuz to a test range in the Iranian desert.

They added that the launch was carried out as part of Iran’s annual naval exercise, moved up from its usual fall timeframe ahead of the new sanctions imposed last week. “It’s routine to see Iran doing a missile test during this annual drill,” one official told Fox News.

This test appears to be a breach of two United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

One day after Tehran and six world powers signed that nuclear accord, the UN passed resolution 2231, which compels Iran to refrain from any work on ballistic missiles for 8 years. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 was passed in 2010 and bans Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests.

A Message to the US

An Iranian naval exercise involving at least 100 small boats in and around the Strait of Hormuz last week was meant as a message to the US for re-imposing economic sanctions on Tehran, the top US commander in the Middle East said Wednesday.

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, told Pentagon reporters last week that Iran was showcasing its military capabilities, amid recent threats by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to close off the strait.

“It’s pretty clear to us that they were trying to use that exercise to send a message to us that, as we approach the period for the sanctions here, they had some capabilities,” said Votel.

The message back to Iran from US Central Command was, “We are aware of what’s going on and we remain ready to protect ourselves,” Votel said.

More broadly, Votel condemned Iran for its continued efforts to destabilize other countries in the region, including Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran routinely operates small boats in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding area, and has often threatened to shut down the highly traveled waterway. In recent weeks Rouhani renewed the threat, saying that if sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Mideast’s exports would be threatened as well.

About a third of all oil traded by sea passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

US Prepared to Ensure Freedom of Navigation

Votel said Iran has the ability to plant mines and explosive boats in the waterway, as well as use missiles and radar along the coast. But he said the US and allies routinely train for that possibility and are prepared to ensure that freedom of navigation and commerce continues in those waters.

US sanctions that had been eased by the Obama administration under the controversial 2015 nuclear deal took effect again last Tuesday, following President Donald Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from the accord. Renewed sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry and banking sector will resume November 4.

Votel said much of this Iranian activity in the strait and in the region is being perpetrated by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who heads the elite Quds Force of Iran’s IRGC.

“Wherever you see Iranian activity you see Qassem Soleimani,” said Votel, calling the Quds Force the principal threat in the region.

Iran has been active in Syria, backing the government of President Bashar Assad, while also stoking violence in the southern part of the country and triggering military counterattacks from Israel.

Israel has warned Iran against building up a military presence on its doorstep. The US and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly condemned Iran for providing missiles to Yemeni Houthi rebels, who have fired rockets toward Riyadh.