By Ahmad Sas - Iran once again demonstrated its intention to destabilise the Middle East by improving its ballistic missile arsenal for foreign policy purposes. Despite the international efforts to limit Tehran's regional meddling, the Islamic republic is increasing its support to militias in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon through logistics and military supplies, which makes its ballistic missile programme a primary security challenge in the region.
On 8 February 2019, new footage according to Jane's Defence Weekly, was released from the secret, underground military laboratories of Dezful county. This footage introduced the new series of Dezful ballistic missiles which were modified to supply Houthi rebels in Yemen and Shia militias in Iraq and Lebanon which are supported by Iran (Quds Force, Hezbollah.) According to military experts, Dezful missiles were adjusted to be smaller and lighter than the previous generation, liquid-fuelled "Qiam" missile. This gives them the advantages of easily transportation to conflict zones and to operate more efficiently on the battlefields, with an increased range, enabling them to target both Saudi and the Emirati territories.
The surface-to-surface Dezful ballistic missiles are the latest member of the Fateh-110 family, with a range of 1000 km. These atmospheric-skip missiles are similar to the Zolfaghar 700km ranged ballistics, with an increase of 43% of its range. Such improvements illustrate Iran's commitment to support its proxy militias with strategic weapons. Reports highlight that the Houthi rebels and the Iran-backed militia in Iraq have already received these missiles from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
IRGC relies on improving its ballistic arsenal for a symmetrical projection purposes. The strategy is to guarantee range spheres over the entire Middle East. With a particular focus on GCC states and Israel. The qualitative shift that the Dezful missiles illustrate will likely increase the hostility of Iran-backed militias and will decrease the chances of diplomatic solutions in the main regional flashpoints which Tehran is involved in. Against the backdrop of the US cancellation of waivers for courtiers importing Iranian oil, it is clear that pressure is mounting on the Islamic republic, to end its paramilitary activities in the Middle East. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, Iran nuclear deal) didn't take special measures against Iran ballistic missile program. Given the scoop and danger these missiles pose, perhaps it should have.
23 April 2019