Iran claims to have successfully tested a ballistic missile called Kheibar with a range of 2,000 kilometers and a 1,500-kilogram warhead. The U.S. and France have expressed “concern,” with the French foreign ministry calling it a violation of numerous United Nations resolutions.

Iran has become extremely proficient at producing ballistic missiles and it has one of the largest ballistic missile stockpiles of any country in the region with some estimates placing the number at 3,000. The timing of the latest test is significant.

Iran’s missile test was carried out at a time when Herzi Halevi, the head of the Israel Defense Forces and other top military officials, warned of a possible war with Iran over its nuclear program. During the unveiling ceremony of its latest missile, Mohammad-Reza Gharaei Ashtiani, Iran’s defense minister, said “Our message to Iran’s enemies is that we will defend the country and its achievements.” The statement was likely a warning to Israel and by extension, the United States.

Why do Western countries and Israel remain deeply concerned about Iran’s ballistic missile program? Although the program dates back to the 1980s, if it is carefully examined, it was designed with Israel in mind.

Israel, which is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid, sees Iran as an existential threat. Similarly, Iran also considers Israel a threat to its own existence. Iran does not recognize the Jewish state and supports the Palestinian cause, as well as Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Why did Iran name its new toy the Kheibar? Kheibar is apparently a reference to a historic battle between Jews and Muslims, led by Muhammad in 628 CE. The Muslims prevailed. According to a treaty, Jews were to leave the region with their families. In a second treaty, the Muslims agreed that Jews could stay in the region and continue farming but pay half of their earnings to Muslims. So essentially, Iran is trolling Israel.

Although Tehran says that its missile program is entirely defensive in nature, the U.S. sees it as a threat to European security as well as to its allies in the region.

The former Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. Despite U.S. sanctions, Iran’s ballistic missile program has continued, which illustrates that Washington’s Iran containment strategy has failed.

Five years after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the agreement, efforts to revive it have failed. Restoring the agreement will create new opportunities to address many issues like the country’s ballistic missile program. The only question is whether there is a will in Washington and Tehran to see the agreement revived.

Source » intpolicydigest