CENTCOM Chief Says Iran Has 3,000 Missiles on Hair-Trigger Alert, Some Able to Strike Israel
16:57 GMT 17.03.2022 (Updated: 21:31 GMT 17.03.2022)
Tensions between the Islamic Republic and the Jewish State hit a new low last week after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired off a dozen ballistic missiles at a suspected ‘Mossad base’ in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran has created a potent domestic ballistic and cruise missile capability from scratch and rejected all Western calls to dismantle it.
Iran has built up an arsenal of about 3,000 ballistic missiles, some of them capable of hitting Israeli cities, and the Pentagon considers Tehran’s missile programme an “exigent threat” to US allies and partners, US Central Command chief Kenneth McKenzie has said.
“At a military level my concern is first of all that they do not have a nuclear weapon but I am also very concerned about the remarkable growth and efficiency of their ballistic missile force, their UAV programme, their long range drones, and their land attack cruise missile programme,” McKenzie said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.
“They have over 3,000 missiles of various types, some of which can reach Tel Aviv. None of them can reach Europe yet,” the general, who is in charge of all US forces in the Middle East, added.
McKenzie said these weapons “have significantly greater range and significantly enhanced accuracy” compared to where they were just five to seven years ago.
Iran’s advancement in drones is also formidable, McKenzie said, suggesting that the country had progressed from primitive, “commercial off-the-shelf” UAVs to drones resembling cruise missiles in terms of their range, accuracy, speed, and ability to resist electronic warfare.
“Today, Iran is no less of a threat to American interests or to the stability of the region than it was in 1979. To the contrary, the threat posed by Iran is graver than ever,” McKenzie suggested, referencing the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew a US puppet regime.
The CENTCOM commander went on to accuse of Iran of “fomenting conflict” across an arc “tracing from Yemen through the Arabian Peninsula, across Iraq and Syria and Lebanon and to the very borders of Israel” using “proxies and clients.”
“Everyone in the region is seized by the Iranian threat, and they want to be able to defend themselves against that threat,” the commander said.
McKenzie’s testimony followed an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps missile attack on what Iran said was a “Mossad base” in Erbil, Iraq on Sunday. The strike reportedly
involved 12 Fateh missiles, and killed three Israeli operatives while wounding seven others. Israeli officials did not comment on the attack. US officials said that only two civilians were injured in the strike, and that “press speculation otherwise is simply wrong.” Some of the missiles landed near the US consulate in the northern Iraqi city.
The IRGC launched the Erbil attack after warning that Israel would be made to “pay the price”
for killing two Guard members in an airstrike in Syria earlier this month.
On Wednesday, US media reported that the Erbil strike may have also been retaliation for
a secret Israeli attack on an Iranian drone factory in the city of Kermanash in February.
Iran considers its ballistic and cruise missile arsenals its main guarantee of strategic security against foreign aggression. Tehran has repeatedly warned Tel Aviv that any attempts to target the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear programme would be met with a “crushing” retaliation. Israel has spent years threatening to wipe out Iran’s nuclear programme, and last year carved out a special $1.5 billion budget specifically for this purpose. In January, former Israeli deputy national security adviser Chuck Freilich warned
Tel Aviv against such a step, saying Iran would be able to quickly rebuilt its nuclear potential, and that Israel itself would face devastating consequences from Iran’s inevitable response.
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