Analysis of Iranian statements shows that the US, under Obama, allowed Iran to develop missiles that could reach Israel.
According to Iranian officials, the Obama administration gave unwritten consent in the nuclear talks for Iran to develop ballistic missiles with a range of only 2,000 km, capable of striking Israel but not Europe, MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) reported.
Last week, Iran conducted a failed test of a new ballistic missile, the Khorramshahr. According to reports, the missile exploded after a 965-km flight.
While Iran claims that its missile program is defensive, missiles with a 2,000-km range are strictly offensive and strategic.
In the years that preceded the US-Iran nuclear talks, Iran developed ballistic missiles with ranges of 2,500-5,000 km that threaten Europe and even the US.
Dr. Hassan Abbasi, theoretician of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and director of the IRGC Center for Borderless Security Doctrinal Analysis, said in 2004: “We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization and for the uprooting of the Americans and the English.
However, after US-Iran negotiations began, and at the end of their first stage in Geneva in November 2013, Iranian officials began reporting that Iran’s missile program was restricted to a 2,000-km reach.
Iran’s Primary Target: Israel
Indeed, IRGC commanders stressed that the most important goal for the regime was the capability to strike Israel.
IRGC Aerospace and Missile Division director Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, following a 2016 missile launch, “For us, Israel’s evil is totally clear, and the 2,000-kilometer range of our missiles [is intended] to confront the distant Zionist regime.”
Additionally, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said on August 18, 2015, in response to a reporter’s question on the manufacture of missiles with a range greater than 2,000 km, “We do not produce missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 km.”
The question then stands – is US permission for Iran to develop missiles with ranges that can hit Israel a secret annex to the JCPOA or simply unwritten consent?
IRGC officials have hinted that restrictions on the range of Iranian missiles to reaching Israel but not Europe were part of the Iran nuclear deal.
For instance, IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari referred to the IRGC’s November 2, 2015, consent to UN Security Council Resolution 2231, saying, “One of the points in this resolution was the matter of restrictions, which some military elements feared. Therefore, we held meetings in [Iran’s] Supreme National Security Council, and also went to the Leader [Khamenei]. The [Iranian] negotiating team told the Westerners that we do not agree to these restrictions. They [the Westerners] said that these issues must be included in the resolution. Even when I met with the Leader, he said that there were no restrictions on developing defensive capabilities. The only restriction relates to nuclear missiles, which, obviously, we never wanted.”
The next day, on November 3, 2015, Iranian Army Chief of Staff Hassan Firouzabadi referred to Jafari’s remarks, saying, “I confirm statements by the IRGC commander that Iran’s missile activity is not restricted. We will follow two restrictions: The first is mentioned in the JCPOA, in the matter of no nuclear planning, and the second is the range of 2,000 km, which has already been noted previously by all elements in Iran.”
These statements indicate that although the permission given to Iran to develop missiles capable of striking Israel is likely not a secret annex of the JCPOA, it still constitutes unwritten consent that is an integral part of the nuclear deal.
It is convenient for both sides not to publish this understanding in written form – for Iran, because it rejects any public reference to its missile program, which it defines as defensive but is in fact offensive; and for the Obama administration, because there would be repercussions if it were revealed that it had given Iran permission to develop missiles capable of striking Israel.