State Department Advisor: Iran’s Military Tentacles Expanding in Region
Iran’s missiles and other weapons being exported to proxies pose a “clear and present danger” to civilians and regional stability, the special representative for Iran and senior policy advisor to the secretary of state said today.
“We’re one [Iranian] missile away from igniting a regional conflict,” Brian Hook told reporters during a news conference at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling here today, in which he provided evidence of Iran's violation of United Nations resolutions against weapons proliferation.
In the year since U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was at Anacostia-Bolling to highlight the dangers posed by Iran’s proliferation of missiles and other weapons across the Middle East, he said, the proliferation has intensified.
Threats to Region and Europe
Iran has the largest ballistic force in the region, Hook said, with 10 ballistic missile systems in its inventory or under development. Missile development and testing has increased in recent years, he added.
Last year, Iran launched a medium-range missile believed to be the Khorramshahr, he said. It can carry a payload of more than a half ton and could be used to carry nuclear warheads. Its suspected range is 1,200 miles, which puts Europe in range.
The U.S. is unveiling new evidence of Iran’s ongoing missile proliferation throughout the region, Hook said, standing near a display of seized Iranian weapons that he said is much larger than it was a year ago. He then elaborated on each weapon on display and where it was found.
Violations in Yemen
Sayyad 2C surface-to-air missiles manufactured in Iran were interdicted by Saudi Arabia in Yemen earlier this year, Hook said. The intended recipients were the Houthi rebels aligned with Iran. They could have used it to target coalition aircraft or civilian aviation up to 46 miles away, he said.
The writing in Farsi on the side of it translates to “Hunter Missile.” The conspicuous markings are Iran’s way of saying they don’t mind being caught violating U.N. resolutions, Hook said.
Iran also is exporting antitank guided missiles, he said. Toophan missiles were seized aboard a dhow ship in the Persian Gulf, and Towsan missiles were found by Saudi Arabia during a raid in Yemen, he said.
Violations in Afghanistan
Fajr rockets intended for the Taliban were recovered by the Afghan National Army in Afghanistan’s Helmand province near Kandahar Airfield, Hook said.
A new Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle, the Shaheh-123, was recovered by coalition forces after it crashed. Its purpose, Hook said, is to conduct surveillance missions of coalition forces. Iran has been providing materiel support to the Taliban at least since 2007, he added.
Violations in Bahrain
Bahrain provided captured Iranian small-arms weaponry found on their territory, which were given to Shiite militant groups to carry out attacks against the government. They include sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 assault rifle variants and hand grenades, Hook said. An Iranian official has publicly called Bahrain an Iranian province, he noted.
Violations against Saudi Arabia
Qiam, an Iranian short-range ballistic missile, was recovered in Saudi Arabia. It was fired by Houthi rebels, Hook said, and its intended target was the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, where tens of thousands travel through the terminal each day. “Imagine a missile of this size and power hitting a civilian aircraft or terminal,” Hook said.
Just today, the Houthi rebels fired missiles into Saudi Arabia, he added.
Violations in Lebanon
Since 2006, Iran has supplied Hezbollah in Lebanon with thousands of precision rockets, missiles and small arms, Hook said. It now has more than 100,000 rockets or missiles in its stockpile.
“We are using the full scope of our sanctions and authorities to inflict real costs on Iran,” Hook said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. reimposed the remaining sanctions that were lifted by the Iran nuclear deal. “This is the largest ever single-day action targeting the Iranian regime,” he said. Sanctions went into place against more than 700 individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft.
“Our maximum pressure campaign will continue until the Iranian regime decides to change its destructive policies, or it can continue to watch its economy crumble,” Hook said.
The United States seeks a new and comprehensive deal with Iran, the State Department advisor said. Iran must stop testing and proliferating missiles, stop launching and developing nuclear-capable missiles and stop supporting militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen, he added.
(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @VergunDoD)