Sanctions on Iran should be further upgraded

By Shahriar Kia

Thirty foreign companies and individuals have recently been sanctioned by the United States for the transfer of sensitive technology used in Iran’s missile program or violating export controls imposed on Iran, North Korea and Syria.

The State Department issued a statement last week making the new sanctions announcement, specifying how entities and individuals involved in assisting Tehran’s ballistic missile drive are targeted. This is considered a positive step in the effort to at least hinder the mullahs’ expanding their overall missile program, utilized to seek no objective other than spreading Iran’s message of Islamic fundamentalism and plunging the entire region into war.

Blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and sanctioning all associated entities and institutions. This is considered a necessary to stop Iran’s belligerence and support for terrorism across the Middle East.

Iran’s military industries, and especially the clandestine nuclear and missile projects, are specifically placed under the direct supervision of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the IRGC. Iran is proliferating ballistic missiles to expand its influence across regional countries through the IRGC.

The mullahs consider their intervention in Middle East countries’ internal affairs as a major pillar of their survival. This specific characteristic is also used to cloak their weakness and numerous crises developing as we speak inside Iran.

“Is it easy to adjust a long-range missile to hit its target at 2,000 kilometers with a mere two to five meter error factor?” Khamenei said recently in his “Nowruz” (Iranian New Year) speech recently.

Despite the fact that Iran’s missile projects have advanced in the past two decades while completely under Khamenei’s direct supervision, all the regime’s factions are in line in the significance of such an initiative for their regime’s survival. This support is seen in the various missile launches used to threaten neighboring countries and Western interests in the region.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has continuously placed his weight behind the regime’s missile ambitions, devoting a considerably sizeable budget and utilizing all the regime’s assets for this purpose.

“If [Khamenei] permits, missiles are launched. If he doesn’t, no missiles are launched. He even determines the launch timing of these missiles,” said General Hassan Firouzabadi, former chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces on November 12, 2016. Iran has also established underground missile factories for the Lebanese Hezbollah in the country’s southern regions near Israel’s border.

Cooperation has continued in recent years between Iran and North Korea on ballistic missile development, according to specific intelligence obtained by sources linked to Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). This cooperation also includes the production of warheads and missile navigation systems.

The information also sheds light on the meetings held between senior Iranian and North Korean officials discussing missile projects. North Korean advisors have travelled to Iran and are constantly present in Iran providing close cooperation with IRGC officials in charge of the regime’s missile projects and providing constant advice in this regard.

“9000” is the code designated for Iran’s project with North Korean experts, and the branch following up on their work in the “Hemmat Industrial Complex.” This entity is specifically in charge of developing Iran’s ballistic missiles. The IRGC has also allocated a special guesthouse for North Korean experts involved in the Hemmat complex, located east of Tehran.

The IRGC has blueprinted its Shahab-3 missiles to enjoy a nuclear warhead capability according to North Korea’s Nodong-1 missile design. Iran has designated the Shahab-3 design as its groundwork for various ballistic missile production initiatives, including the “Ghadr” and “Sejil” prototypes.

“Syria’s missile factories were transferred from Iran to that country,” said IRGC Aerospace commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh on November 11, 2014.

The time has come for Iran’s IRGC, alongside all its entities, used by Tehran as main levers to impose domestic crackdown and pursue foreign terrorism and fundamentalism, be blacklisted by the U.S. and the international community.

Political reservations of any kind hindering such a move will only embolden and encourage Iran’s mullahs to further upsurge their military meddling and exporting various crises across the Middle East.

Shahriar Kia is an Iranian dissident and a political analyst writing about Iran and the Middle East. He is the member of the Iranian opposition and he graduated from North Texas University. He tweets at @shahriarkia.

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