Reports: Iran moves missiles that can reach Riyadh and Tel Aviv to Iraq
Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional enemies, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.
Any sign that Iran is preparing a more aggressive missile policy in Iraq will exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington, already heightened by President Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
It would also embarrass France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the three European signatories to the nuclear deal, as they have been trying to salvage the agreement despite new U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
According to three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources, Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to allies in Iraq over the last few months. Five of the officials said it was helping those groups to start making their own.
“The logic was to have a backup plan if Iran was attacked,” one senior Iranian official told Reuters. “The number of missiles is not high, just a couple of dozen, but it can be increased if necessary.”
The Zelzal, Fateh-110 and Zolfaqar missiles in question have ranges of about 200 km to 700 km, putting Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh or the Israeli city of Tel Aviv within striking distance if the weapons were deployed in southern or western Iraq.
The Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has bases in both those areas. Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is overseeing the program, three of the sources said.
Iran already transferred missiles and technology to Syria and other allies of Tehran, such as Houthi terrorists in Yemen and Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.
Iran’s Sunni Muslim Gulf neighbors and Israel have expressed concerns about Tehran’s regional activities, seeing it as a threat to their security.
PM Netanyahu said on Wednesday at the renaming ceremony for the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center: “Whoever threatens us with destruction puts himself in similar danger, and in any case, will not achieve his goal.”
“Shimon aspired toward peace but he knew that true peace can be achieved only if our hands strongly grasp defensive weaponry. In the Middle East, and in many parts of the world, there is a simple truth: There is no place for the weak. The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end, peace is made with the strong”.