Iran to Europe: Don't Challenge Our "Defensive" Missiles Or We'll Extend Their Range

by PATRICK GOODENOUGH November 28, 2017

A senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has warned European governments not to challenge its ballistic missile program unless it wants Iran to boost its missile capabilities to bring Europe within range.

Brigadier-General Hossein Salami, the IRGC's number two, said the regime currently limits the range of its missiles as a policy decision, not because it lacks the know-how to extend them.

"We tell the European countries that if we have confined the range of our missiles to 2,000 km until today and have not increased it any further, it is not because of a lack of technology, because we have no limitations for the range of our missiles in technological terms," he told state television at the weekend.

"But as all our actions derive from a strategic logic, our missiles' range is limited to the regions of threat," he added.

Iran does not now regard Europe as a threat, Salami said

"But if Europe wants to turn into a threat, the range of our missiles will increase," he continued, adding that Iran respects European countries and "they should respect us too."

Iranian state media said Salami referred in his comments to demands from certain European countries for talks on Iran's missile program.

"If the Europeans want to enter the sanctum of our missiles, we may drop this limitation to the [missile] range."

Earlier this month French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - both hostile critics of the regime in Tehran - expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal but said it should be "complemented"  by adding measures relating to Iran's missile programs.

"There are negotiations we need to start on Iran's ballistic missiles," Macron was quoted as saying in Riyadh.

Salami said in the television interview that Iran "will never negotiate" over its missile program which, he said, "guarantees our security, independence, and diplomatic power."

At Iran's insistence and with Moscow's support, the Obama administration and its partners in the talks that produced the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed to leave missiles off the table in the negotiations.

A subsequent U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the JCPOA included a provision saying Iran was "called upon" not to develop or launch ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

In so doing, resolution 2231 watered down earlier resolutions - which it also replaced - which had used stronger language, saying that Iran "shall not" undertake such activity.

The Obama State Department said numerous missile launches carried out after the deal was struck were "in defiance of" resolution 2231, but Iran pointed to the "called upon" language, described it as non-binding, and shrugged off the criticism.

The other parties to the JCPOA - France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China - have all rejected President Trump's calls for the deal to be renegotiated, but Macron's comments in the Gulf came closest to agreeing that more work is needed.

The French president's remarks drew a sharp response from IRGC commander Major-General Ali Jafari, who told reporters he put it down to Macron's "youth and naiveté," and added that he would soon learn that such calls were pointless.

Iran would never hold talks on its missile power, he said, reiterating the regime's position that the missiles were purely "defensive" in nature.

Even keeping within the supposed 2,000 km limit, depending on launchpad location Iranian missiles could already reach south-eastern Europe, including parts of Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania - not to mention U.S. troops and allies in the Middle East.

"Iran has the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East and can strike targets up to 2,000 kilometers from Iran's borders," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a report to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last May.

A range of 3,000 km could threaten Poland and Central Europe, Italy and parts of Germany.

The European ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield being rolled out by NATO entails missile interceptors in Poland and Romania, as well as Aegis ships in the Mediterranean and a radar installation in Turkey. The Pentagon says it is designed to protect U.S. troops and allies against the threat of missiles launched by Iran.

Late last month the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday passed by a vote of 423 to two new sanctions legislation targeting Iran's ballistic missiles, for the first time including restrictions on entry into the U.S. of anyone found to be supplying or financing the missile program.

The bill is now being considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Courtesy of CNSNews.com   

Patrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.


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