Posted tagged ‘Iranian missiles’

Iran: How Will Rafsanjani’s Death Affect Regime?

January 11, 2017

Iran: How Will Rafsanjani’s Death Affect Regime? Iran News Update, January 10, 2017

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In his January 10 article for Al-Arabiya,, Heshmat Alavi, political and rights activist who focuses on Iran, writes about the effect of senior cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s death by heart attack on Sunday, January 8, at the age of 82.

As Rafsanjani was known for his influential role in shaping the regime’s politics following the 1979 revolution, the Iranian regime was dealt a significant blow, and a power vacuum is created, less than four months prior to crucial presidential elections.

Rafsanjani’s role for the past 38 years helped maintain the regime’s measures of domestic crackdown, export of terrorism and extremism abroad, and their effort to obtain nuclear weapons, according to Alavi. 

“The death of Rafsanjani, one of the pillars of the religious fascism ruling Iran and its balance factor collapsed, and the regime in its entirety is closer now to its overthrow,” said Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

After Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Rafsanjani served as president from 1989 to 1997. He ran again for office again in 2005, but lost the election to firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In recent years, Rafsanjani has been mentoring the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, and was known for his fierce rivalry with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Although known for his close ties to the regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, who died in 1989, the West believed him to be a “pragmatic conservative” willing to mend fences with the outside world, especially the US.

Rafsanjani’s last post was head of the Expediency Council, a body assigned to resolve conflicts between the regime’s parliament (Majlis) and the Guardian Council, which has close links to Khamenei, and vets all candidates based on their loyalty to the establishment before any so-called elections. Rafsanjani himself was disqualified by the Guardian Council when he sought to participate in the 2013 elections as a “reformist” candidate.

Instead, Rafsanjani placed his power behind Rowhani after the latter assumed power as president in 2013.  Rafsanjani used this position to “carve himself and his family an economic empire from the country’s institutions and natural resources in the past decades,” writes Alavi.

“One brother headed the country’s largest copper mine; another took control of the state-owned TV network; a brother-in-law became governor of Kerman province, while a cousin runs an outfit that dominates Iran’s $400 million pistachio export business; a nephew and one of Rafsanjani’s sons took key positions in the Ministry of Oil; another son heads the Tehran Metro construction project (an estimated $700 million spent so far),” states a 2003 Forbes analysis, which also alludes to the billions cached in Swiss and Luxembourg bank accounts by the Rafsanjanis.

While the West was convinced that Rafsanjani was more moderate than his “hardline” counterparts, he went along with them in suppressing dissidents, namely members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition group that first blew the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

“Four rulings are a must for the [PMOI]: 1- Be killed. 2- Be hanged. 3- Arms and legs be amputated. 4- Be separated from society,” Rafsanjani said back in 1981. He also played a presiding role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners.

During his presidency, Rafsanjani allegedly directed numerous assassinations of dissidents abroad, including renowned human rights advocated Dr. Kazem Rajavi, former Iranian ambassador to Italy Mohammad Hossein Naghdi and Iranian Kurdish leader Abdulrahman Ghassemlou.  He was also indicted for his role in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires that left 85 killed and hundreds wounded.

Alavi writes, “Rafsanjani has through four decades of mullahs’ rule in Iran played the role of the regime’s No. 2 figure and a balancing element, always securing the regime’s higher interests. His death will significantly weaken the mullahs’ regime in its entirety and will trigger major upheavals across the regime’s hierarchy.”  He concludes by saying, “If past is any indication, the mullahs will most likely resort to further violence and the export of terrorism and extremism to prevent this newest crisis from spiraling out of control.”

The NCRI referred to Rafsanjani as “one of the two pillars and ‘key to the equilibrium’ of the Iranian regime,” adding that, “during his long career he was associated with some of the regime’s most egregious actions, including mass-casualty terror attacks and the assassinations of exiled dissidents.”

Rafsanjani is considered as one of its founding fathers of the Iranian regime, who played an outsized political role in the life of the Islamic republic, not only by serving as President after serving as Speaker of Parliament and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, but also heading two of the regime’s most important institutions, the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member body of top clerics which nominates the Supreme Leader; and the Expediency Council, a body that advises the Supreme Leader.

“Rafsanjani, who had always been the regime’s number two, acted as its balancing factor and played a decisive role in its preservation. Now, the regime will lose its internal and external equilibrium,” opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said in a statement that also referred to the “approaching overthrow” of the clerical regime.

On January 9 the NCRI published a list, outlining some of his outrageous conduct:

• Rafsanjani called for the extermination of members of Iran’s main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK). On October 3, 1981, the state-run Ettela’at daily wrote, “Referring to the grouplets’ operations, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Speaker of the Islamic Parliament and Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader, said in his sermon, ‘Divine law defines four sentences for them which must be carried out: 1 – kill them, 2 – hang them, 3 – cut off their arms and legs, 4 – banish them…‘Had we caught and executed 200 of them right after the Revolution, they would not have multiplied so much. If we don’t deal decisively with [Mojahedin] armed grouplet and agents of America and the Soviet Union today, in three years we will have to execute thousands of them instead of one thousand now…”

• According to Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former heir, Khomeini sought counsel on his decisions from just two individuals: Rafsanjani and current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, including his decision to issue a fatwa ordering the massacre of at least 30,000 political prisoners at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in the summer of 1988.

During Rafsanjani’s tenure as President and as head of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), a body that oversees and authorizes the regime’s terrorist operations, the assassination of Iranian dissidents abroad and the regime’s terror attacks skyrocketed. The terror targets were not only Iranians.

• Rafsanjani’s remarks on May 5, 1989 as carried by Iran’s official state news agency IRNA , and were reported by The Associated Press:: “If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine, they will kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans or Britons or Frenchmen, the Israelis could not continue to do these wrongs… It is not hard to kill Americans or Frenchmen. It is a bit difficult to Kill [Israelis]. But there are so many [Americans and Frenchmen] everywhere in the world.”

• Argentinian investigators implicated Rafsanjani in 2006, in one of the deadliest instances of Iranian terrorism abroad – a suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed in 1994.  The investigators accused Iran of instructing Hezbollah to carry out the bombing. They issued arrest warrants for Rafsanjani, seven other senior Iranians, and a Lebanese national, Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah terrorist chief.

Interpol, at Argentina’s request, issued red notices – the organization’s equivalent of arrest warrants – for five of the Iranians and Mughniyah.

• The FBI established undeniable evidence that Tehran had masterminded the deaths of 19 American servicemen, in the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996.

According to the NCRI, these are some of the most significant killings of prominent dissidents abroad during Rafsanjani’s tenure:

• In 1992, four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant called Mykonos were assassinated. A German court ruled in 1996 that the Iranian regime under Rafsanjani was directly responsible for the killings, which the U.S. State Department said provided further proof that Iran was a terrorist state.

• Maryam Rajavi’s brother-in-law, Kazem Rajavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – Iran’s most renowned human rights advocate and a former Iranian ambassador to the U.N. was shot dead near Geneva in 1990. Swiss investigators accused the Iranian regime of responsibility and authorities issued an arrest warrant for Rafsanjani’s intelligence minister, Ali Fallahian.

• Mohammad Hossein Naghdi, the NCRI representative in Rome, was shot dead on a street in the Italian capital in March 1993.

• Zahra Rajabi, the NCRI’s representative on refugee issues, was shot dead with an NCRI colleague in an Istanbul apartment in February 1996.

Rafsanjani was the one who pushed the Iranian clandestine nuclear weapons program forward as a guarantor of the regime’s survival. He cooperated with countries like North Korea to achieve these objectives.

Rafsanjani acknowledged that during his time as parliamentary speaker and President, both he and Khamenei sought ways to obtain a nuclear bomb in an interview published by the regime’s official state news agency IRNA on October 27, 2015. “Our basic doctrine was always a peaceful nuclear application, but it never left our mind that if one day we should be threatened and it was imperative, we should be able to go down the other path,” Rafsanjani said.  He added he had travelled to Pakistan to try to meet Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, who later helped North Korea to develop a bomb. Fortunately, the meeting never occurred.

Straun Stevenson Blames President Obama for the Legacy of Death and Destruction in Middle East

January 8, 2017

Straun Stevenson Blames President Obama for the Legacy of Death and Destruction in Middle East, Iran News Update, January 8, 2017

(Please see also, In its Last Days, Obama Administration Clings to Hope of a Positive Role for Iran. — DM)

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Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, former member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14), writes in his January 6, 2017 article for UPI, that the legacy of President Barack Obama will be death and destruction in the Middle East. His vision cooperation between  the United States and Iran “has unlocked a Pandora’s box of conflict and sectarian strife across the zone.”

During the closing days of the Obama administration the controversial nuclear deal with Iran and his policies regarding that ruthless regime have allowed the mullahs to threaten the security of the Middle East, and perhaps, while Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Turkey have tried to prevent Iran’s aggressive expansionism in the region.

The U.S. and other countries is the West failed the Syrian opposition and allowed a civil war to continue into its seventh year, costing hundreds of thousands of lives, and setting off the huge migration crisis in Europe.

$150 billion of frozen assets were released to Iran by the U.S. as part of the nuclear deal, which the Tehran government was expected to use to shore up their economy, on the brink of collapse. Instead, the regime redouble its spending the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force, both of which are listed terrorist organizations in the West and are involved in many conflicts in the Middle East. Not only does Iran support Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, it funds and supplies Hezbollah in Lebanon and the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq.

The nuclear deal has been breached, which Stevenson says demonstrates Iran’s complete disdain for the West. Two Qadr-H missiles were fired last March, in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution tied to the agreement. “Israel must be wiped out” was marked on the missiles, and the test firing took place on the day that the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel. Vladimir Putin sent the first shipment of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran last August.

President Obama attempted to make deals with the so-called “moderate” and “smiling” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which he interpreted as having a green light for Tehran’s expansionist policy. Rouhani is in fact in charge of a government which has executed around 3,000 people since he took office in 2013, ten just this year. Mass hangings are now carried out in public, even in football stadiums. Many of the officials in his government were complicit in the 1988 massacre of some 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were part of the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran. In fact, it was supervised by Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who is Rouhani’s justice minister.

Obama began his administration by agreeing with Iran, and backing Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in Iraq. Stevenson writes, “Maliki was a puppet of the mullahs, doing their bidding by opening a direct route for Iranian troops and equipment heading to Syria to bolster the murderous Assad regime. Iran’s support for Maliki in Iraq and for Assad in Syria, two corrupt dictators who repressed and brutalized their own people, resulted in the rise of Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.Thanks to U.S. acquiescence over Tehran, Daesh grew and became a threat to the whole world.”  He continues, “Obama compounded this grievous mistake by providing American military support and air cover for the genocidal campaign being waged by pro-Iranian Shi’ia militias in Iraq. Once again Iran exploited its role in ousting Daesh as a means for implementing its ruthless policy of ethnic cleansing to annihilate the Sunnis in Iraq’s al-Anbar Province. Horrific sectarian atrocities were committed during the so-called “liberation” of the ancient cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The Shi’ia militias, who formed the main part of the force fighting to recapture these cities from Daesh and are now engaged in the battle to recapture Mosul, are led by Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian terrorist Quds Force. Soleimani has also played a key role in Syria and the massacre in Aleppo.”

Tehran is gaining strength in Iraq. The Iraqi army is poorly trained, and the Iranian has Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s agreement to allowing Iranian-funded militias to take control of military operations. Political disarray in Baghdad, has paved the way for Iran to consolidate its hold in Iraq.

The unenviable task of trying to sort out the Middle East mess will be left to President-elect Donald Trump. Many people on his team believe that Iran is the main source of conflict in the Middle East and poses a greater threat to the West than North Korea or even Russia. It will be interesting to see how Trump will fare.

 

In its Last Days, Obama Administration Clings to Hope of a Positive Role for Iran

January 8, 2017

In its Last Days, Obama Administration Clings to Hope of a Positive Role for Iran, Iran News Update, January 7, 2017

(Iran News Update 

Iran News Update (INU) features news, analysis, and commentary on events inside Iran and the Iranian Diaspora around the world.  News and information is provided in cooperation with the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the parliament in exile of the Iranian Resistance, and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

— DM)

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Kerry’s remarks seem to imply that the Obama administration’s early claims about Iranian moderation will continue to be repeated until it departs the office. But the incoming administration cannot be expected to pick up that thread. And articles like the above-mentioned Fox News editorial indicate that on such issues as Iran’s coordination with America’s enemies, Donald Trump and his advisors will recognize the continuance of Tehran’s worst behaviors.

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On Friday, Fox News published an editorial on the topic of recent nuclear threats from North Korea. As well as being a longstanding thorn in the side of the United States, the Korean dictatorship’s obsession with nuclear weapons development has also variously exposed the cooperation between Iran and other enemies of Western democracies.

This cooperation was highlighted in the Fox News article, with specific reference to a number of instances of Iran helping North Korea with its nuclear program. In the view of the author and other critics of recent US foreign policy, this assistance has effectively been further enabled by a conciliatory approach to dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. As well as failing to address this alleged cooperation while negotiating the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the Obama administration has also taken very little punitive action against Iran following its post-agreement ballistic missile tests, which were conducted in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions on the matter.

This has arguably given North Korea the impression that the United States is presently either unwilling or unable to react to such tests, of which the Fox News article says the east Asian dictatorship conducted 20 in the past year alone. But to whatever extent Obama-era permissiveness encouraged these activities, that permissiveness is all but certain to end when Donald Trump assumes the presidency on January 20. And the Fox News article concludes with recommendations as to what Trump can do to prevent North Korea’s nuclear development and missile testing.

Those recommendations include bolstering US defensive capabilities along the West Coast, and also constraining “enablers” of North Korean development, chiefly the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, the appropriate means for such constraint remain a serious topic of dispute. On the campaign trail, Trump frequently accused the Obama administration of handing the Iranians a nuclear agreement that brought little benefit to the West. He also threatened to tear it up – a measure that theoretically would have taken the world community back to the drawing board and allowed it to pursue a more comprehensive suite of Iranian concessions.

But subsequent to his election, Trump has taken a different tack, promoting renegotiation of the existing deal instead of its cancellation. Even some Republicans who opposed the deal or viewed it as seriously flawed have taken a similar view. As an example, The Guardian featured an article on Friday that detailed the input offered to Trump by Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been insistent that tearing up the nuclear deal would create more problems than it would solve, and that the best way forward is to enforce its existing provisions much more strictly than the Obama administration has done.

Iran has at various times been caught in the midst of small violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, including two instances of exceeding the deal’s defined limits on Iranian stockpiles of heavy water, a nuclear byproduct. The absence of consequences for these violations has gone a long way toward promoting the perception of the outgoing administration’s permissiveness. And there has been a great deal of associated speculation and analysis of the reasons for this. The most natural explanations deal with the administration’s fear of endangering Iranian participation in the agreement. But the situation may also be more complex than this and include worries about antagonizing Iran at a time when its participation in regional conflicts is occasionally viewed as a positive thing.

Real Clear Politics points out that this perspective was explicitly expressed by Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “Together, Iran and Russia had to prop [Assad] up, and save him from the possibility that the extremists might take over the country,” Kerry said, apparently deviating from previous US positions calling for Assad’s ouster and promoting the possibility of a victory by moderate rebel groups led by the Free Syrian Army.

Iran and Russia have widely been credited with not only preventing Assad’s fall to these groups, but also with damaging them so severely as to push the Syrian Civil War toward a situation in which the only choices for the country’s future are the established Assad dictatorship and the militant rebels affiliated with ISIL and the Al Nusra Front. Meanwhile, Iran has done its best to advance the notion that its own interests in the region are adverse to Islamic extremism. But Tehran’s pro-democratic opposition the National Council of Resistance of Iran has often referred to the Islamic Republic as the “prototype” for Islamic extremism throughout the world.

On Friday, The Iran Project pointed to recent statements by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, claiming that Iran has always been committed to a political solution in Syria. If taken at face value, those comments can be expected to encourage Kerry’s notion that under current circumstances, a victory for Iran in Syria is a defeat for Islamic terrorism. But the trouble with this claim is that it can only be reasonably defended if one takes “Islamic terrorism” to refer only to “Sunni terrorism.”

As a major part of Iran’s strategy not only in Syria but also in Iraq and Yemen, it has directed recruitment and deployment of multitudes of Shiite militant groups to those battlefields. Previous reports have confirmed that many of these groups swear allegiance to the Islamic Republic over and above the governments of the countries in which they are operating. In this way, Iran is evidently extending its Hezbollah model of foreign influence into other part of the region. And in Syria, it is a well-known fact that Iran is actually utilizing the Lebanese paramilitary group to strengthen its operations and build a large-scale network that spans several nearby countries.

On Thursday, Xinhua News Agency pointed out that the Iranian leadership had fervently disputed rumors that Hezbollah would be withdrawing from the Syrian Civil War. It is not clear what the ultimate source of those rumors was. But they are possibly rooted in Turkey’s demands for such a withdrawal as part of a political solution to the crisis, or else in the outgoing US administration’s optimism about Iranian “moderation” and willingness to cooperate over important foreign affairs. But although Boroujerdi’s comments about a desire for a political solution promote this perception, they are belied by the Iranian leadership’s clear unwillingness to withdraw its militant proxies, even as they continue to violate ceasefire agreements negotiated by Turkey, Russia, and others.

Nevertheless, Kerry’s remarks seem to imply that the Obama administration’s early claims about Iranian moderation will continue to be repeated until it departs the office. But the incoming administration cannot be expected to pick up that thread. And articles like the above-mentioned Fox News editorial indicate that on such issues as Iran’s coordination with America’s enemies, Donald Trump and his advisors will recognize the continuance of Tehran’s worst behaviors.

Iran’s New Indigenous Air Defence System

January 3, 2017

Iran’s New Indigenous Air Defence System, Gatestone InstituteDebalina Ghoshal, January 3, 2016

Clearly, if Iran continues to develop long range launch capabilities, it could choose destabilize the entire Middle East region, and directly threaten Israel and Europe.

The rapid development of an advanced system such as the Bavar-3 demonstrates that the Iranians are capable of developing not only defensive but also offensive weapons systems, even as Iran remains prohibited under the present UNSC Resolution 2231 (2015) from developing surface-to-surface nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

If Iran continues to develop offensive nuclear and long-range ballistic missile capabilities, the international community may be in for an unpleasant surprise — awakening to find a nuclear-armed Iran protected by sophisticated, hardened air defences. By then, the balance of power in the Middle East will be altered irreversibly.

While Western governments and NATO continue to congratulate themselves on the Iranian nuclear deal, in Tehran it is business as usual as the regime continues to plan for war.

In August 2016, on Iran’s National Defense Industry Day, the mullahs unveiled a sophisticated, domestically-built air-defence system — a surface-to-air long range missile system called the Bavar-373 [“Belief”]. Iran’s system was commissioned in 2010, when UN sanctions suspended a deal for Iran to purchase additional S-300 air defence systems from Russia.

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani bragged with complete accuracy, “The Islamic Republic is one of the eight countries in the world who have mastered the technology to build these engines.” Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan claimed that Iran would begin mass production by the end of 2016. As the Bavar-373 is made entirely from domestic components, it can be manufactured and deployed even in the face of future sanctions.

2179Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) poses with the Bavar-373 air-defense system, August 21, 2016. (Image source: Fars News/Wikimedia Commons)

Bavar-373 is a marked upgrade from previous Iranian air defence capabilities. It is reportedly mounted on a Zafar 8×8 special wheeled chassis, designed to operate both on and off roads, with an operational range of 800km. The system uses Sayyed-3 category canister-launched missiles along with target acquisition radar, target engagement radar, and phased-array radar. The Sayyed-3 missiles hit mid-altitude targets with greater destructive power and increased range and speed than previous generations of Iranian missiles.

The Iranians claim, probably accurately, that the Bavar will be capable of downing bombers and other combat aircraft including helicopters and drones. Many reports confirm that the Bavar is superior to the Russian S-300, as it has greater mobility, better targeting capability, and faster launch preparation.

The Bavar is just one of Iran’s moves to develop military self-sufficiency in order to circumvent future sanctions. While still purchasing some components from Russia, Iran is clearly planning to go it alone in the future — especially with ballistic and cruise missile technology. The rapid development of an advanced system such as the Bavar-3 demonstrates that the Iranians are capable of developing not only defensive but also offensive weapons systems, even as Iran remains prohibited under the present UNSC Resolution 2231 (2015) from developing surface-to-surface nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Clearly, if Iran continues to develop long range launch capabilities it could choose to destabilize the entire Middle East region and directly threaten Israel and Europe.

Iran’s intentions appear ominous. Tehran continues to deploy defensive systems at nuclear and military sites throughout the country, apparently concerned about a potential Israeli strike. Even more worrisome, the Bavar system could make any attack by Israel or NATO extremely difficult and costly.

If Iran continues to develop offensive nuclear and long-range ballistic missile capabilities, the international community may be in for an unpleasant surprise — awakening to find a nuclear-armed Iran protected by sophisticated, hardened air defences. By then, the balance of power in the Middle East will be altered irreversibly.

Facing North Korea and Iran, Trump Must Strengthen Nuclear Deterrence

January 3, 2017

Facing North Korea and Iran, Trump Must Strengthen Nuclear Deterrence, National Review, Tom Rogan, January 3, 2017

Ultimately, the nuclear issue is just one challenge the incoming Trump administration faces in foreign policy. The U.S. needs a new strategy of realist resolution. After years of Obama’s fraying credibility with allies and foes alike, the United States must resume leading. Kim Jong-un and Iranian supreme leader Khamenei are arrogant. If given an inch, they will walk the nuclear mile. And history tells us that great power and totalitarian zealots rarely blend positively.

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How President Trump should strengthen America’s ICBM-deterrence posture. Like Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un holds absolute power. And Kim, the same as his father and grandfather, wants to forcibly unify the Korean peninsula under a xenophobic ideology of self-sufficiency.

Since the end of the Korean War, the Kims’ wacky “Juche” ideology has sparked Western laughter as much as fear. We have rightly assumed the Kims are deterred by their understanding that a conventional-arms conflict with America would destroy them. While the U.S. has had to occasionally reinforce this conventional deterrence, it has been sustained for 60 years.

Over the weekend, Kim Jong-un announced that the North’s development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is advancing rapidly. Unless America appeases him, Kim warned, he will build a “preemptive striking capacity with a main emphasis on nuclear force.” Recently successful rocket tests suggest we should take Kim at his word.

Still, it’s not just North Korea the West should be concerned about here.

Today, alongside other malevolent activities, the Islamic Revolutionary Republic’s ballistic-missile research is advancing unabated. In his wisdom, President Obama decided to exclude a ban on such research from his legacy Iran deal. He lacked the threat-of-force credibility to compel the Iranians to cease their missile development. Unfortunately, when Iran perfects ballistic-missile technology, it will break the nuclear deal. By then, sanctions relief will have made Iran tens of billions of dollars richer.

Collectively, these developments threaten not just the stability of international peace, but the civilian population of the United States. They demand a robust response in U.S. nuclear-deterrent posture. President Trump should deliver it.

First, Trump should reform the Iran nuclear deal to include prohibitions on Iranian ballistic-missile development. This is the realist compromise between scrapping the nuclear deal entirely and attempting to make it work better.

Second, Trump should enforce a new, proactive strategy to deal with North Korea’s increasingly advanced ICBM program. Whereas, in the past, the U.S. has simply monitored North Korean missile tests, stronger action is now required. North Korean ICBMs demand it. After all, the base-minimum range of an ICBM is 3,400 miles. But seeing as 1960s-era Soviet and U.S. ICBMs easily exceeded 6,200-mile ranges, we must assume North Korean ICBMs will exceed the minimum range. And with just 125 miles more than the minimum, North Korea could strike Darwin, Australia. An extra 270 miles would put Anchorage, Alaska, in range. Hawaii, a little over 4,300 miles from North Korea, would also be vulnerable.

Countering this threat, Trump should supplement the U.S military’s multi-phase missile-defense programs. He should publicly announce that if the North tests an ICBM, he will establish three North Korea focused missile-test defense sectors. Trump should be clear that any North Korean ICBM that enters or passes these sectors will be shot down. U.S. military planners would, of course, fine-tune such proposals, but here’s one example of what the defense zones might look like.

Trump could establish a northern sector — focused on protecting Alaska — off the Japanese coast in the Sea of Okhotsk. Second, a western sector — focused on protecting Hawaii and the U.S. west coast — could be set up approximately 1,000 miles west of Midway Island, at the southern tip of the Emperor seamounts. Third, a southern sector — to protect Australia — could be established south of Palau Island between Papua and Papua New Guinea. These sectors should be maintained by U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers (and hopefully allied assets), equipped with the Aegis missile-defense system.

Next, Trump should clarify his willingness, where facing imminent nuclear attack, to use nuclear weapons in a “first strike” role. That demand is urgent because President Obama has equivocated on this fundamental precept of U.S. nuclear-deterrent posture. Namely, the understanding that U.S. nuclear weapons serve both deterrence (preventing an attack) and capability (destroying an enemy). A retained first-strike capability is necessary to prevent the loss of millions — or tens of millions . . . or hundreds of millions — of American lives in a nuclear showdown. Yes, ideally, the U.S. would be able to use conventional non-nuclear capabilities to achieve that objective. But idealism is a dangerous master. For one, U.S. military pilots might not be able to penetrate enemy air defenses in time to prevent a ballistic-missile attack. Similarly, conventional bunker-busting bombs might not destroy enemy nuclear platforms.

Fourth, Trump should aggressively confront illicit ICBM research-and-development networks. Specifically, Trump should push Pakistan, Russia, and the former Soviet states to take action against smugglers in their nations. In the case of Pakistan and the former Soviet states, such action should be tied to U.S. aid payments. A philosophical evolution of U.S. tactics is equally important here. Put simply, instead of treating nuclear smuggling as a law-enforcement matter, the U.S. must be prepared to coerce or kill those who support the illicit nuclear industry. Fear is always the best guarantor against a nuclear holocaust.

Ultimately, the nuclear issue is just one challenge the incoming Trump administration faces in foreign policy. The U.S. needs a new strategy of realist resolution. After years of Obama’s fraying credibility with allies and foes alike, the United States must resume leading. Kim Jong-un and Iranian supreme leader Khamenei are arrogant. If given an inch, they will walk the nuclear mile. And history tells us that great power and totalitarian zealots rarely blend positively.

Iran Breaks Nuclear Deal and UN Resolutions

December 15, 2016

Iran Breaks Nuclear Deal and UN Resolutions, Gatestone Institute, Majid Rafizadeh, December 15, 2016

“We will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies.” – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The range of existing Iranian ballistic missiles has grown from 500 miles to over 1,250 miles (roughly 2,000 kilometers), which can easily reach Eastern Europe, as well as countries such as Israel.

In addition, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said that there would be no limit for the range and amount of missiles that Iran will develop.

The nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Agreement (JCPOA) — effective, as of October 18, 2015, according to the State Department – clearly and distinctly stipulates that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missile activity “until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”

Not only is Iran avoiding honoring this stipulation, but also Iran’s ballistic missile operations have significantly ratcheted up. More importantly, there has been no criticism at all from the Obama administration or other involved parties regarding this critical violation.

As cited by Iran’s state-owned Fars News Agency, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Iran’s commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, said in Tehran on Dec 6, 2016:

“In addition to enhancing the precision-striking power and quality of ballistic missiles, the Iranian authorities and experts have used innovative and shortcut methods to produce inexpensive missiles, and today we are witnessing an increase in production [of ballistic missiles].”

Iran is bragging about it.

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In addition, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said that there would be no limit for the range and amount of missiles that Iran will develop. He boasted:

“90 percent of the country’s defense systems have reached an acceptable standard and enjoy competitive quality compared with the weapons of advanced countries; production of the national individual weapons and efforts to improve the quality and precision-striking power of ballistic missiles are among the defense ministry’s achievements in the defense field.”

Fars News reported on a December 6, 2016 statement from Iran’s Defense Minister:

“His remarks came as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired 2 home-made ‘Qadr H’ ballistic missiles from the Eastern Alborz Mountains at a target in Iran’s Southeastern Makran seashore some 1400km away… The missiles were fired on the sidelines of the main stage of the IRGC drills in Central Iran and various parts of the country.”

One missile, which was launched on March 2016, had a clear message written on it that said in the Hebrew language: “Israel should be wiped off the Earth”. Fars Agency adds:

“Qadr is a 2000km-range, liquid-fuel and ballistic missile which can reach territories as far as Israel… The missile can carry different types of ‘Blast’ and ‘MRV’ [Multiple Reentry Vehicle] payloads to destroy a range of targets. The new version of Qadr H can be launched from mobile platforms or silos in different positions and can escape missile defense shields due to their radar-evading capability.”

Iran has repeatedly test-fired, long-range ballistic missiles and laser-guided surface-to-surface missiles. For example, on March 2016, Iran tested a new ballistic missile, capable of carrying multiple warheads. More recently, Iran fired a test missile with an accuracy within 25 feet, which is characterized as “zero error,” according to Brig. Gen. Ali Abdollahi, the Iranian military’s deputy chief of staff, and Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The range of existing Iranian ballistic missiles has grown from 500 miles to over 1,250 miles (roughly 2,000 kilometers), which can easily reach Eastern Europe, as well as countries such as Israel.

According to a previous report obtained by the Associated Press, the launches are “destabilizing and provocative” and the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile and Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile fired by Iran are “inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

In addition to violating the nuclear agreement, provoking and threatening other nations, and destabilizing the region, Iran is breaching two UN Security Council Resolutions. Security Council resolution 2231 (section 3 of Annex B) “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

The second United Nations Security Council resolution, 1929, states:

“Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”

Iran has the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. It is also the most diversified one. No country, other than Iran, has acquired long-range ballistic missiles before obtaining nuclear weapons. Ballistic missiles can be used for offensive or defensive purposes, but sophisticated missiles are more likely developed as delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons.

These missiles have the capability of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. Iran Tasnim news agency reported:

“Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan praised the country’s military might…saying the Islamic Republic can mass produce ballistic missiles with any range and destructive power… In the missile sphere, Iran has been able to maximize the accuracy of projectiles, as emphasized by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, with reliance on the local forces, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said at an academic ceremony in Tehran on Tuesday.”

Iran is also is increasingly provoking other countries in the region, and has made it clear that the ballistic missiles are aimed at targeting other nations. Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said previously to FARS news agency that “Iran has built missiles that can hit targets at 2,000 Km. They are designed to hit Israel at such a distance.” He added that Islamic countries have surrounded Israel and “its [Israel’s] life is short. So it will collapse in any given war — long before a missile is even fired.”

Iran also exports these missiles to its proxies across the region. Tasnim news agency quoted General Hossein Salami as saying:

“Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles that are ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes… today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are (present) more than ever.”

In addition, Gen. Salami warned Israeli leaders that if they make the “wrong move,” Israel would come under attack.

It is crucial to point out that both Iran’s so-called “moderates” and hardliners are on the same page when it comes developing ballistic missiles. When his country was unveiling a new missile, Fateh 313, President Hassan Rouhani pointed out that “we will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies.”

The Obama administration, the international community, a major global power, or a coalition of nations need robustly to confront these provocations, threats, and violations of the nuclear deal and UN Security Council Resolutions by Iran.

US Tomahawks destroy Iran’s radar bases in Yemen

October 13, 2016

US Tomahawks destroy Iran’s radar bases in Yemen, DEBKAfile, October 13, 2016

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Tomahawk cruise missiles launched by US Navy destroyer USS Nitze early Thursday, Oct. 13, destroyed three Iranian-Yemeni coastal radar stations, after C-802 anti-ship missiles supplied by Iran to Yemeni Houthi rebels were fired at US naval vessels off the Yemeni coast. The stations were built and  operated  by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) for their Yemeni proxies to back up a threat to blockade the Red Sea.

From Oct. 9, the new missiles four times targeted the US flotilla shortly after it arrived to patrol the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Neither the US nor Iran has acknowledged their mounting confrontation over control of these strategic waters, which Tehran is waging through its Yemeni proxy.

DEBKAfile was first to disclose this confrontation in a special report Wednesday. (see below)

Iran’s Guards are repeating the mode of operation they employed a decade ago at another Middle East flashpoint. On July 14, 2006, Hizballah used an earlier version of the C-802 to attack and cripple the Israeli Hanit missile ship on the day this Iranian Lebanese proxy launched the Second Lebanese War against Israel. Rev Guards seized control of Lebanese shore radar station to guide their aim.

A highly advanced radar installation is required for the use of the C-802. Two radar stations set up outside Yemen’s two principal Red Sea ports, Mokha and Hudaydah earlier this month were operated by Rev. Guards missile and radar teams until they were destroyed Thursday, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. The third station was added for triangulation. The destruction of all three by a US Tomahawk has knocked out the Houthis’ ability to use C-802 missiles and Iran’s threat to blockade the Red Sea.

To drive this lesson home, the US Pentagon issued the following statement:

“Destroying these radar sites will degrade their ability to track and target ships in the future. These radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea, including last week’s attack on the USA-flagged vessel “Swift-2”, and during attempted attacks on USS Mason and other ships as recently as yesterday.

The official was referring to the United Arab Emirates US-flagged transport ship that was badly damaged last week in the Bab al-Mandeb strait by a Houthi missile..

DEBKAfile reported earlier:

Contrary to Tehran’s assurance to Washington in August that Iranian arms supplies to Yemeni Houthi rebels had been suspended, the rebels took delivery last week of the largest consignment of Iranian weapons to date.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the shipment included highly sophisticated Scud D surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 800km; and C-802 anti-ship missiles (an upgraded version of the Chinese YJ-8 NATO-named CSS-N-8 and renamed by Iran Saccade).

They came with Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers and radar systems to fine-tune the targeting of these missiles by Iran’s Yemeni proxies.

The Scuds were given to the Houthi forces fighting in northern Yemen on the Saudi border, while the C-802s were delivered to the Houthis’ Ansar Allah faction, which is under direct Iranian Rev Guards command.

The missiles were posted at special launch bases constructed by Iran outside Yemen’s two principal Red Sea ports of Mokha and Hudaydah.

Since no more than 62km of Red Sea water divides the Saudi and African coasts, the Iranian missiles are well able to block shipping and tanker traffic plying to and from the Gulf of Suez and the Persian Gulf. Therefore, the threat of blockade hangs imminently over one-third of Saudi and Gulf Emirate oil exports.

The same threat hangs over Israeli civilian and naval shipping from its southern port of Eilat through the Gulf of Aden and out to the Indian Ocean.

One of the most troubling aspects of this pivotal new menace to an international waterway was that US, Saudi, Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies missed the huge consignment of Iranian missiles as it headed towards Yemen. Neither did they pick up on the construction by Iranian military engineers of three ballistic missile bases – one facing Saudi Arabia and two Red Sea traffic.

Tehran’s Yemeni proxies moreover landed large-scale military strength on Perim island in the mouth of the Bab al-Mandeb strait, the chokepoint for ingress and egress from the Red Sea.

Since the strait is just 20km wide, control of this island empowers this force to regulate shipping movements through this strategic strait.
Tehran wasted no time after all its assets were in place to begin using them:

1. On Oct. 1, Iran’s Houthi surrogates launched C-8-1 missiles against a United Arab Emirates transport HSV-2 Swift logistics catamaran as it was about to pass through the strait. The ship, on lease from the US Navy, was badly damaged. No information was released about casualties.

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DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discerned that the aim of this attack was to choke off the movements of UAE warships from the southern Yemeni port of Aden, where large Emirate and Saudi forces are concentrated, to the Eritrean port of Assab, where the UAE has established a large naval base.

This attack did finally evoke a US response. The guided missile destroyers, USS Mason and USS Nitze, were dispatched to the Red Sea, along with the USS Ponceafloat forward staging base, to patrol the strait opposite the Yemeni coast

2. This did not deter Tehran or its Yemeni pawns: On Oct. 9, they fired an additional barrage of C-802 at the American flotilla, which according to a US spokesman, missed aim.

The Mason hit back with two Standard Missile-2s and a single Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missile.

There has been no official word about whether these weapons destroyed a Yemeni launching site. But the event itself was a landmark as the first direct Iranian-Houthi attack of its kind on an American naval vessel.

3. That same day, the Houthis fired Scud-D missiles at the Saudi town of Ta’if, 700 km from the Yemeni border and only 70km from the Muslim shrine city Mecca. This was meant as a direct assault on the Saudi royal house and its claim to legitimacy, by virtue of its role as Guardian of the Holy Places of Islam.

In America’s heated presidential campaign, the Democratic contender Hillary Clinton boasts repeatedly that as Secretary of State she helped “put the lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot.”

That is factually true. America did not fire a single shot. Iran did the shooting and still does, constantly upgrading its arsenal with sophisticated ballistic missiles.