Missile Showdown #2: Iran Reacts

On January 29, Iran test launched a medium-range ballistic missile, according to U.S. defense officials. On January 31, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting and recommended the matter of the missile testing be studied at committee level. On February 1, Iran’s defense minister confirmed the launch. “The recent test was in line with our programs, and we will not allow any outsider to interfere in our defense affairs,” said Hossein Dehghan. Later in the day, U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn officially put the Islamic Republic “on notice.”

As with previous missile tests, the launch was not a violation of the nuclear deal, which does not include restrictions on Iran’s missile program. But the launch appears to be inconsistent with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which bans Iran from testing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Iran has previously argued that its missiles are for self-defense and not designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. At a January 31 press conference, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif emphasized that “missiles aren’t part of the nuclear accords” and that Iranians are “not going to wait for others’ permission” to defend themselves. Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. For years, it has had missiles capable of reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. The following are remarks by Iranian leaders on the launch and Western reaction.


Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi

“Instead of thanking Iran for its continued fight against terrorism, the American government is practically helping the terrorists by claims about Iran that are baseless, repetitive and provocative.”

The remarks “come while the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts to fight terror groups in the Middle East are not hidden to anyone; groups which enjoy direct or indirect financial, logistical and intelligence support of the U.S. and its allies.”

“None of the missiles have been designed to carry nuclear warheads.”

—Feb. 2, 2017, according to Press TV and  Reuters


"Iran's missile test was not a message to the new U.S. government.

"There is no need to test Mr Trump as we have heard his views on different issues in recent days... We know him quite well."

—Feb. 6, 2017, via Tasnim news agency and Reuters

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not ask for permission from anyone to defend itself.”

—Jan. 31, 2017, in remarks to the press


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

"The missiles aren't part of the nuclear accords."

"Iran will never use missiles produced in Iran to attack any other country."

"We're not going to wait for others' permission to defend ourselves ... Maybe the new government that has already shown its image internationally will use this against Iran to start new tension."

“Iran was alone during the eight-year war imposed by the Iraqi government on Iran and now it is just boosting its defensive capabilities.”

“We need a comprehensive approach to fight extremism and war alone is not a right response to fight that.”

—Jan. 31, 2017, at a press conference in which he didn’t confirm or deny the missile test via NBC News, Al Jazeera and Fars News


Advisor to the Supreme Leader, Ali Akbar Velayati

“This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran … the American government will understand that threatening Iran is useless.”

“Iran does not need permission from any country to defend itself.”

—Feb. 1, 2017, according to Reuters

“The missiles tested by Iran are for defense purposes and the country will continue its missile activities forcefully.”

“The history showed that the U.S. officials could not resist against the wave of Islamic awakening and they were merely boasting.”

“The new U.S. administration will also understand that threatening Iran would not be effective, and that it should end its groundless ranting.”

The Trump administration’s policies “would be to the detriment” of the American nation.

“We witness that the American people are also not satisfied with Trump’s extremism.”

—February 2, 2017, according to Fars News and PressTV


Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan

“The recent [missile] test was in line with our programs, and we will not allow any outsider to interfere in our defense affairs.”

"The test did not violate the nuclear deal or [U.N.] Resolution 2231."

—Feb. 1, 2017, to reporters in Tehran via Tasnim, Reuters and BBC


“This missile test was successful. Iran's missile tests are not, and have never been, in violation of the JCPOA or [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231.”

—Feb. 2, 2017, to the press


220 members of parliament

“The Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys tremendous military power thanks to blood of thousands of martyrs, struggles of late Imam Khomeini as well as expediency of the Leader. Iran’s enormous military capabilities, unlike other world powers, has not been obtained through weapons of mass destruction like biological, nuclear or chemical ones. As such, missile capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran remain as the only way to deter enemy aggression.

Whispers heard on opposition of some countries to this capability of Iran possess no rational since missile tests have no contradiction with resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including Resolution 2317.

We, as representatives of the great Iranian nation, express our full support of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran which assumed a major historical role during eight tough years of Imposed War as an ever-lasting honor. We also deem strengthening of Iran’s defense capabilities within the framework of strategic deterrence as an inevitable necessity for national security.

Lastly, the Parliament, while voicing support for Iranians who live abroad including those residing in the US, considers the recent decision of America on visa ban as an insult to the Iranian nation as well as to the Islamic Ummah.”

—Feb. 1, 2017, in a statement, according to Mehr News


Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkani

“Iran will not ask for permissions to develop its conventional defensive power and the country is going to fiercely counter any foreign interventions in that regard, including development of its missile power.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always followed a policy based on good neighborliness, peaceful ties and using all the potential to bolster relations.”

“We will firmly counter any foreign interference when it comes to defense matters, including the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile might.”

—Feb. 1, 2017, during a visit with the Armenian defense minister, according to IRNA, Fars News, Tehran Times, and PressTV


Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and America Majid Takht Ravanchi

“We have stressed in the foreign ministry’s statement that the U.S. international and bilateral undertakings shouldn’t be at all affected by this undigested policy that they have announced.”

“Our missiles have not been designed to carry nuclear warhead and we have stated this both in our written positions that are among the UNSC documents and in our verbal positions.”

—Feb. 1, 2017, according to Fars News


Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General Hossein Salami

“If our missile power had not been able to put fear in the heart of the US, there would have been no reason for the hue and cry [by the United States].”

“Each day, the number of Iran’s missiles, military vessels and air defense missile launchers increases.”

—Feb. 2, 2017, in a speech in Kashan