Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened on Sunday to use his country’s missile system against the enemies of the Islamic Republic.
“Iran has used its missiles [in the past] and will use them in the future to defend itself,” Rouhani told participants at the 27th annual Kharazmi Festival, named after the famed Persian mathematician, according to Fars New Agency.
As the world focused its attention on the conflict brewing in Ukraine and away from the Iranian nuclear crisis, other regime officials warned that Iran is not Ukraine, that it will not allow the Iranian people to rise up against the regime the way Ukrainians rose up and ousted its leader, Viktor Yanukovych.
Rouhani also criticized the West for terrorism and assassination of its nuclear scientists and the brains behind its missile program.
“During the era when Iran and Muslim scholars were the leaders of science, they without hesitation shared it with others. The Western world… before the Renaissance saw the light of knowledge of this land and utilized it [for its own progress],” Rouhani said. “However, we now see that the industrialized countries… see [progress in science] as their prerogative to the level that they allow their intelligence services to assassinate scientists of this country.”
Rouhani boasted that Iranian scientific progress will move faster than before.
Iran and the 5+1 world powers, the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, reached an interim agreement in Geneva in November over the regime’s illicit nuclear program. Under the six-month agreement, Iran, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, will keep much of its nuclear infrastructure, is limited to enriching uranium at the 5 percent level for six months, will convert its highly enriched uranium of 20 percent to harmless oxide, and will allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear plants by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will be limited to searching only agreed-on facilities.
The regime officials have continuously announced that in the final agreement, the country will not agree to dismantle even one centrifuge or close any of its nuclear facilities, including the heavy-water reactor in Arak, which once operational could produce plutonium, giving the Islamic regime a second path to nuclear weapons. The officials have also stated that the country’s missile system is not up for negotiations.
The chief commander of the regime’s Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, told his forces two weeks ago that in case of attack on the country’s nuclear facilities, “The enemy knows that we will not leave them alone and we will attack them from within.”
Jafari had previously stated that Iranian forces are ready for a war with America.
Another Guard official, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, said in a televised interview a month ago that “America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic. We have recognized America’s military strategy and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock.”
While engaging the West in more than a decade of negotiation, the regime in collaboration with North Korea has been expanding its work both on its nuclear and missile programs. As revealed last year from sources within the country’s armed forces, the regime is actively working on a nuclear warhead and intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system out of a secret site code-named Quds (for Jerusalem). The site has depots and silos for more than 380 missiles along with deep tunnels in the mountain for work on nuclear warheads.
“[The satellite images] suggest the possibility that Iran may, in fact, be further along in its nuclear weapons program than is generally assumed,” said David Trachtenberg, who for 30 years served in the national security policy field and who, as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense, played a leadership role in nuclear forces and arms-control policy. “It is clear they have gone to great lengths to bury and protect high-value assets at this site, which also complicates the possibility of direct military action and illustrates the risks of allowing years to pass while hoping diplomacy will work. An accelerating train is harder to slow and takes longer to stop. These images reinforce my concern that Iranian nuclear progress is accelerating.”
One of the America’s foremost experts on nuclear weapons, who could not be named but who served at the U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency and who inspected more than 200 tunnel structures of Russian nuclear test sites as well as Russian operational facilities and silos, also viewed the imagery of Iran’s facility.
“The site is similar to a common approach by several other nuclear-capable countries which have used advanced design in hardening these types of tunnels or garages for a quick, deployable system,” he said. “I understand exactly what Iran has at the site … [including] a very important part of the structures… the apparent hardened underground stub tunnels for secure storage of mobile systems which can be quickly moved to launching sites… and it is very scary because its defeat may not be as easy as attacking it with a couple bombers, even if they have nuke weapons. This layout is very scary because it is… ready for the operational weapon systems to be installed, and then they are ready to take on the world.”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).