Iran to unveil new missile despite progress on nuclear deal
The announcement came amid signals that Iran and the West were slowly bridging gaps to make their way toward restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.
A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is displayed next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a street exhibition by Iran’s army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard force to celebrate Defense Week, marking the 41st anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at the Baharestan Square in Tehran, on Sept. 25, 2021. – ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images
February 8, 2022 —
The head of the aerospace unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, said Tehran was planning to unveil a new “strategic missile” soon.
The hard-line general told Iran’s state TV that the missile was already available and being kept in the IRGC warehouses.
Hajizadeh did not specify the type of the projectile, which he said was an entirely home-made product.
In late December, the IRGC launched 16 ballistic missiles and five suicide drones in a large-scale exercise that targeted a mock-up model of Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility.
The announcement came on the eve of the resumption of a new round of talks between Tehran and the world powers, who are scrambling to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Despite a months-long stalemate, nearly all parties involved in the Vienna meetings have seen positive prospects on the horizon in recent days.
As the talks were to resume, the hard-line Tasnim News Agency quoted “a source close to the Iranian negotiating team” as saying that Tehran has already finalized “its political decision.” The source threw the ball in the court of the United States, which has been indirectly engaged in the negotiations.
Russia’s representative, Mikhail Ulyanov, who has emerged as an active public relations face of the ongoing diplomatic pushes, declared on his Twitter account that “negotiations seem to be at the final stage.”
It was not clear to what extent Tehran’s strict demands were being addressed in the potential agreement. In his latest public stance, the spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh reasserted the Iranian position on sanctions relief with robust verifications and solid guarantees.
Worried that time could be running out, the United States issued a set of sanctions waivers last week, allowing the Islamic Republic to benefit from foreign companies’ cooperation for civilian purposes in its nuclear program. The Russian envoy has hailed the US move as a step “in the right direction.”
Along the lines of nuclear negotiations, Western powers have been pushing to talk Iranian authorities into curtailing their controversial missile program, only to face the adamant argument that Iranian missiles are not up for negotiations.
The IRGC’s plan for a new “strategic missile” was also reminiscent of a similar pattern in 2015. Only a few months after the nuclear deal had been inked, the Guards unveiled a massive “underground missile city” as a message of defiance to Western powers.