Iran has just announced its breakthrough missile capabilities that may put U.S. vessels in jeopardy.
A senior Iranian official confirmed Tuesday that Iranian land-to-sea missiles can now strike any ship at a distance of more than 400 miles, though they maintain their missiles are solely for defensive uses, Reuters reported Tuesday.
“We have managed to make land-to-sea ballistic, not cruise, missiles that can hit any vessel or ship from 700 km (435 miles),” said Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) air space division.
— NRT English (@NRT_English) October 16, 2018
Iran’s previous missile range was approximately 290 kilometers (180 miles), as they debuted in a ground-to-sea missile in 2008.
The IRGC has been working on an improved, longer-range missile over the past decade. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly directed the IRGC to develop a missile capable of “hitting ships.”
The announcement is contrary to what Iran claimed earlier this year when they indicated that they were not planning to increase the range of their missiles.
Chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said in June, “We have the scientific ability to increase our missile ranges, but it is not our current policy,” according to the Times of Israel.
Defense Minister Amir Hatami also said recently, “Today, I announce that we are not concerned about the sanctions because we have produced all our defensive needs in all the marine, air and ground sectors.”
U.S. special envoy to Iran Brian Hook said that Iran’s missile development was worsening tensions in the region.
“We are accumulating risk of regional conflict if we do not do more to deter Iran’s missile proliferation in the Middle East,” he said.
A report from earlier this month indicated that Iran had launched as many as 39 ballistic missiles since 2015.
The pace of missile launches by the regime in #Iran did not diminish after JCPOA Implementation Day in January 2016, and it continues to prioritize its missile force development and launch ballistic missiles. Download the report on Iran’s Outlaw Regime at https://t.co/58Uc9lIgDz pic.twitter.com/S3XSAD6mom
— Department of State (@StateDept) October 10, 2018
Iran’s shorter-range missiles have been deployed in Syria over the past two years in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They’ve also used in drones in at least 700 attacks.
Their latest attack took place Oct. 1 and involved six ballistic missiles and seven drone bombers launched at targets in eastern Syria believed to be the location of militants responsible for the Sept. 22 deadly parade attack.
In August, Iran just released an improved short-range missile, though the upgraded range was not disclosed, and they promised to continue improving their missile capabilities. The following month, Iran said they’d possessed missile-equipped hovercraft capable of delivering swift missile strikes against enemies.
Last year, Khamenei ordered that Iran’s missile capabilities remain limited to 2,000 kilometers. With their latest missile coming in at a range of 700 kilometers, they aren’t expected to hit the limit any time soon.