Bloomberg Politics reported another towering achievement of Obama foreign policy on Wednesday, as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism Iran counts its money from the nuclear deal windfall and prepares for a weapons “shopping spree.”
Iran is likely to go on an international shopping spree for surface warships, submarines and anti-ship missiles after the expiration in 2020 of a United Nations resolution prohibiting it from acquiring sophisticated weapons, according to the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence.
The expiration “will allow Iran to pursue foreign acquisitions that have been inaccessible since sanctions were imposed,” according to a new assessment of Iran’s naval forces, strategy and capability obtained by Bloomberg News. Entitled “Iran’s Naval Forces: A Tale of Two Navies,” the 44-page publication is an update to a 2009 version.
The ban on conventional weapons will be lifted as part of the international deal reached in July 2015 between the U.S., five allies and Iran to curtail its nuclear program in return for easing international sanctions. The Navy report is likely to be cited by those who agree with President Donald Trump’s past description of the nuclear accord as “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
Indeed that does seem likely. Iran is already producing home-grown weapons at an unseemly clip for the peace-loving good neighbor it claims to be. Many of those “Iranian designs” look suspiciously like copies of Chinese, Russian, and North Korean arms. Now it looks forward to enormous purchases of weapons like the Russian SS-N-26 Yakhont cruise missile, which it has already sold to the equally peaceful and responsible regime in Syria.
The report cited by Bloomberg is compatible with other analyses that describe Iran’s “defensive” strategy as the ability to rain destruction upon neighboring states, along with vital waterways such as the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. This allows Iran to perpetrate all sorts of mischief through its terrorist proxies and sabotage specialists, like the notorious Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, without fear of reprisal. Iran is not worried about repelling a military invasion; it wants all of its victims to believe the cost of retribution for Iranian intrigue is unacceptably high.
From this perspective, Breaking Defense warns that Iran’s small but growing arsenal of cruise missiles is the big problem for American strategists and our allies in the Middle East. Iran will be able to buy advanced cruise missiles like the “stealthy Kh-55 upgrade used by Russia in Syria,” which only Israel has a decent chance of intercepting. Such weapons are troubling even with conventional warheads, let alone nuclear ones.
The Trump administration’s recommended course of action, per Breaking Defense, includes blocking Iranian efforts to procure illicit missile technology, targeting cruise missiles specifically with new sanctions, and deploying more cruise missile defenses around Iran’s likely targets.
Another area of concern for Iranian military capability is Yemen, which the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs argues has become a testing ground for Iran’s weapons and a training ground for Hezbollah instructors. In essence, the JCPA worries that Iran and Hezbollah are refining equipment and practicing techniques they plan to use against Israel, including sophisticated surface-to-air missiles and drones. Iranian drone technology, in particular, seems to have come a long way during the Yemen adventure.