Iran’s Ongoing Provocations

Missile Tests, Exchanges With North Korea, And Proxy Wars

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES MATTIS: “Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.” (“Indications Iran Doubling Down On Use Of Proxy Forces,” Voice Of America, 5/31/2017) 

·         “The Senate is expected to vote this week on bipartisan legislation that would expand U.S. sanctions against Iran's ballistic missile program and also target its support for terrorism, human rights violations and transfers of conventional weapons.” (“Senate To Vote On Iran Sanctions Bill,” CBS, 6/6/2017)

 

Iran Continues To Test And Develop Ballistic Missiles

“Iran said [in February] it had test-fired a new ballistic missile, prompting a tough response from a senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump…. Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015 … (“Iran Confirms Missile Test, Drawing Tough Response From Trump Aide,” Reuters, 2/01/2017)

 

·         “Continuing a pattern of provocative actions, Iran [in early March] test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles and sent fast-attack vessels close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. officials confirmed to Fox News.” (“Iran Launched 2 Ballistic Missiles, US Officials Say,” Fox News, 3/06/2017)

 

·         “According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran has conducted as many as 14 ballistic missile launches since the landmark nuclear agreement in July 2015.” (“Iran Launched 2 Ballistic Missiles, US Officials Say,” Fox News, 3/06/2017) 

 

“Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard as saying.” (“Iran Says It Has Built Third Underground Ballistic Missile Factory,” Reuters, 5/25/2017)

 

·         “‘Iran’s third underground factory has been built by the Guards in recent years ... We will continue to further develop our missile capabilities forcefully,’ Fars quoted Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guard’s airspace division, as saying.” (“Iran Says It Has Built Third Underground Ballistic Missile Factory,” Reuters, 5/25/2017) 

 

·         “Most nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were lifted last year after Tehran fulfilled commitments under a 2015 deal with major powers to scale back its nuclear program … But Iran remains subject to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions. Two months after implementation of the deal, the Guards test-fired two ballistic missiles that it said were designed to be able to hit Israel.” (“Iran Says It Has Built Third Underground Ballistic Missile Factory,” Reuters, 5/25/2017) 

 

Experts Say Iran And North Korea Are Exchanging Assistance In Ballistic Missile Development

“Even though there was considerable optimism that the July 2015 ratification of the Iran nuclear deal would halt Tehran’s long-standing military cooperation with North Korea, Iran’s ballistic missile program continues to rely on North Korean military technology…. While media coverage on Iran-North Korea military cooperation has focused principally on technician exchanges between the two countries and nuclear cooperation, ballistic missile development has been the most consistent area of Tehran-Pyongyang technological cooperation since the Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2015. This collaboration explains the striking similarities between Iranian EMAD and North Korean Rodong missiles.” (“A Closer Look at Iran and North Korea's Missile Cooperation,” The Diplomat, 5/13/2017)

 

·         “Israeli defense analyst Tal Inbar recently noted that Iran purchased North Korea’s technical know-how on ballistic missile production, upgraded the DPRK missiles’ forward section, and distributed these advancements back to North Korea. The similarities between North Korean missiles launched during recent tests and Iranian technology suggests that Iran is a possible contributor to North Korea’s nuclear buildup, rather than a mere transactional partner.” (“A Closer Look at Iran and North Korea's Missile Cooperation,” The Diplomat, 5/13/2017)

 

“A former CIA analyst said Monday the Iranians are continuing to help North Korea with weapons technology as Pyongyang's new missile test over the weekend was described as ‘a significant advance.’” (“Former CIA Agent Says Iran Aiding North Korea As New Missile Test Emboldens Pyongyang,” CNBC, 5/15/2017)

 

·         “‘It was a significant advance in terms of missiles that seem to be able to carry a fairly heavy warhead and carry it a fairly significant distance,’ said Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and now senior vice president for policy and programs with the Center for Security Policy, a national security think-tank based in Washington. At the same time, Fleitz said there's ‘pretty credible information’ that the North Koreans have received help in their missile program from Tehran. ‘It's going in both directions,’ he said.” (“Former CIA Agent Says Iran Aiding North Korea As New Missile Test Emboldens Pyongyang,” CNBC, 5/15/2017)

 

Iran Continues To Produce Heavy Water, Again Running Up Against A Limit Imposed By The Nuclear Deal

“Iran told the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Tuesday it would ship 20 tonnes of heavy water abroad to avoid breaching a limit on its stock of that substance under a landmark deal with six world powers, officials said…. Iran has already breached that limit twice since the deal imposed restrictions on its nuclear activities in January last year, when sanctions against Tehran were also lifted under the agreement.” (“Iran Tells IAEA It Plans to Ship Heavy Water Abroad, Officials Say,” Reuters, 6/06/2017)

 

·         “A quarterly IAEA report on Iran on Friday said Tehran's stock of heavy water had reached 128.2 tonnes, which a senior diplomat described as ‘very high’.” (“Iran Tells IAEA It Plans to Ship Heavy Water Abroad, Officials Say,” Reuters, 6/06/2017) 

 

 

‘“Harassing” Behavior By Iranian Patrol Boats’ Has Continued This Year

“The Pentagon has criticized the behavior of Iran's navy, saying it was ‘unsafe and unprofessional,’ after two separate incidents in the Strait of Hormuz last week. A Pentagon spokesman said on March 6 that an Iranian frigate came within 150 meters of the lightly armed USNS Invincible on March 2. Then on March 4, several small assault craft came within 350 meters of the Invincible and three British naval ships.” (“Pentagon Slams Iranian Navy For Harassing U.S. Ships In Persian Gulf,” Radio Free Europe, 3/7/2017)

 

“A Navy destroyer opened fire Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz after four Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats acted in a way that a U.S. defense official described as ‘harassing.’ The USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, fired three warning shots with a .50-caliber machine gun at four Iranian boats after at least one of them traveled within 900 yards of the Mahan with a sailor manning its main gun.” (“Navy Destroyer Opens Fire After ‘Harassing’ Behavior By Iranian Patrol Boats,” The Washington Post, 1/9/2017)

 

·         “[Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman] … said the incident marks a return to a series of provocative encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels that had started to wane over the latter half of 2016. The Navy counted 23 interactions in 2015 and 35 in 2016 that included actions by the Iranians that were considered ‘unsafe and unprofessional,’ but the last significant one occurred in August.” (“Navy Destroyer Opens Fire After ‘Harassing’ Behavior By Iranian Patrol Boats,” The Washington Post, 1/9/2017)

 

Iranian Money And Arms Are Still Flowing To Proxy Forces In Syria, Yemen, And Lebanon

“An influx of cash that was the byproduct of the deal Iran struck with a group of world powers to curtail its nuclear program may not be changing the way Iran goes about wielding influence across the Middle East and beyond. A top U.S. military official says … there are indications Tehran continues to focus on cultivating special operators to help lead and direct proxy forces. ‘If anything, increased defense dollars in Iran are likely to go toward increasing that network, looking for ways to expand it,’ U.S. Special Operation Forces Vice Commander Lieutenant General Thomas Trask told an audience in Washington late Tuesday.” (“Indications Iran Doubling Down on Use of Proxy Forces,” Voice of America, 5/31/2017)

 

·         “Already, Iran is supplementing its own forces inside Syria by providing arms, financing and training for as many as 10,000 Shia militia fighters, including units from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to U.S. intelligence officials. Military and intelligence officials further worry about the sway Iran has over tens of thousands of additional fighters who are part of Shia militias fighting in Iraq. And there are concerns Iran is trying to employ the same type of model in Yemen, where U.S. officials say it has been supplying arms and other help to Houthi forces.” (“Indications Iran Doubling Down on Use of Proxy Forces,” Voice of America, 5/31/2017)

 

‘They Are Planning To Create A Hezbollah-Like Militia In Yemen’

“Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen, stepping up support for its Shiite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say…. Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, said that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the two-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support to the Houthi movement. This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria.” (“War In Yemen: Iran Steps Up Support For Houthis,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 3/23/2017)

 

·         “A former senior Iranian security official said Iran's hardline rulers planned to empower Houthi militia in Yemen to ‘strengthen their hand in the region.’ ‘They are planning to create a Hezbollah-like militia in Yemen. To confront Riyadh's hostile policies ... Iran needs to use all its cards,’ the former official said. A Western diplomat in the Middle East agreed: ‘Iran has long been trying to cultivate portions of the Houthi militias as a disruptive force in Yemen….” (“War In Yemen: Iran Steps Up Support For Houthis,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 3/23/2017)

 

“[T]he United Nations' humanitarian chief warned that Yemen is spiraling toward ‘total social, economic and institutional collapse.’ Speaking to the UN Security Council, Stephen O'Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said the country's citizens face a ‘triple threat’ of ‘armed conflict, famine, and deadly disease that has already killed, injured, displaced or otherwise affected millions and it will spare no one if it continues unchecked.’” (“Yemen Spiraling Toward 'Total Collapse' As World Watches, UN Warns,” CNN, 5/31/2017)