Yesterday the Iranian press reported that the Islamic Republic “successfully test-fired a new generation of long range surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 1,200 miles.”
Some weapons experts have disputed whether this was, in fact, a new missile. Andrew Brookes of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies told The London Times, “I think the Iranians just keeping on rejigging the same missile and putting a new logo on it. It’s basically the Shahab 3 with a different name, and the purpose of the test firing is to tell the world, ‘don’t forget us’, we have missiles that can reach 2,000 kilometers.”
The White House responded with the requisite denunciation, with spokesman Gordon Johndroe saying “Iran’s development of ballistic missiles is contrary to United Nations Security Council resolutions and completely inconsistent with Iran’s obligations to the world.”
Iran’s missile test should be considered in light of the fact that Iran’s economy, which had been kept afloat on high oil revenues, is collapsing. The high price of oil — which was partly a consequence of the Iraq war — had enabled Iran to sidestep economic sanctions, but with the recent drop in oil prices Iran is in serious trouble. They’ve got double-digit unemployment, double-digit inflation, there’s a whole generation of young Iranians whose future prospects are very dim. And they are very, very unhappy with their government right now.
The missile test should be therefore viewed less as an attempt to “test” the new president-elect, more as an attempt by hardliners to rally Iranians round the flag, as they have done consistently over the past few years, by provoking a crisis to draw attention away from their failure to manage the economy. Read more