Surprise! The Iranians may have been cooking up long-range ballistic missiles all during the time that both Tehran and the Obama administration downplayed those possibilities. As far back as 2011 or earlier, Iran has operated a secret missile-development site near Shahrud, the New York Times reported. For those keeping score, that would be four years before the US agreed to a deal that did nothing to restrain such activities:
When an explosion nearly razed Iran’s long-range missile research facility in 2011 — and killed the military scientist who ran it — many Western intelligence analysts viewed it as devastating to Tehran’s technological ambitions.
Since then, there has been little indication of Iranian work on a missile that could reach significantly beyond the Middle East, and Iranian leaders have said they do not intend to build one.
That might explain why the Obama administration didn’t link missile development to the “bar” on Iran’s nuclear-weapons programs. That’s pretty weak sauce, though, considering how many test launches Iran made both before and after the JCPOA. They clearly were working toward some missile development, and they already had medium-range missile systems operational. Remember, Iranian leaders also insisted for two decades that they had no intention of building a nuclear weapon either, demonstrating the credibility of the regime when it comes to its stated military goals.
If that truly was the basis of ignoring missile development in the JCPOA, it’s not a very comforting thought. The truth behind the secret facility turned out to be fairly easy to uncover … once anyone put some effort into it:
So, this spring, when a team of California-based weapons researchers reviewed new Iranian state TV programs glorifying the military scientist, they expected a history lesson with, at most, new details on a long-dormant program.
Instead, they stumbled on a series of clues that led them to a startling conclusion: Shortly before his death, the scientist, Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, oversaw the development of a secret, second facility in the remote Iranian desert that, they say, is operating to this day.
This raises serious questions, such as: Did the Obama administration know about this facility when it agreed to the JCPOA? If not, how did it get missed? Does this facility have other purposes, such as, oh … nuclear-weapons development? The outsiders who managed to connect dots to the Shahrud facility can’t answer all the questions from satellite photos alone:
It is possible that the facility is developing only medium-range missiles, which Iran already possesses, or perhaps an unusually sophisticated space program.
But an analysis of structures and ground markings at the facility strongly suggests, though does not prove, that it is developing the technology for long-range missiles, the researchers say.
For its part, Tehran refuses to discuss any kind of limitation on missile development — at least for now:
Defense Minister Amir Hatami said on Wednesday that Iran would never compromise on its missile power, reiterating Tehran’s long held position that Iran’s missile power is of defensive nature, Fars reported.
Responding to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks on Iran’s missile power, Hatami said, “If the Islamic Republic wanted to pay attention to such delusional remarks over the past 40 years, it wouldn’t have gained such power, glory and dignity.”
ICBMs are not defensive weapons. They are by nature offensive weapons, used as a deterrent in some contexts, but the deterrent value lies in their offensive nature. They are designed to strike long distances away from borders and frontiers as a means of extending offensive capabilities. Paired with a nuclear-weapons program, they become an even greater offensive threat, one that would destabilize the entire region.
Defenders of the JCPOA will argue that the deal eliminated the threat of that pairing, but that’s nonsense. Even if Iran abided by the terms of the JCPOA, it would only have had to wait ten years to produce a nuclear weapon. Having an ICBM platform available for a nuclear warhead to fit it would fit perfectly into a strategy of dominating the region by nuclear blackmail, and would force others in the region to develop or acquire their own systems to counter it.
This is just another reminder that we cut a deal with a terrorist state that didn’t do anything to restrict its terrorist or its ability to develop platforms for later use against us. If anything, the JCPOA provided financial support for these efforts and others in the region, fueling conflict and pushing Iranian hegemony all the way to the Mediterranean, all without getting anything in return other than a piece of paper. We didn’t even get American detainees out of Iran. It’s a complete debacle, only becoming even more apparent with the passage of time.