Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program: A New Case for Engaging Iran?


Insight Turkey Volume 18 No. 4, 2016

Unlike the nuclear program, Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal has received only scant scholarly attention. At best, some highly technical analysis has been offered, at worst, the missiles have been considered part of the nuclear package designed to carry nuclear warheads. However, the missile program is a complex and sophisticated response to Iran’s unique security challenges which should be analyzed on its own. The signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCOPA) in July 2015 has made this task more urgent. With the nuclear program rolled back, the missiles have become a new target of international attention. The ballistic program is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), commonly known as the Revolutionary Guards, which has been subject to numerous sanctions because of its alleged terror activities and other infractions. The focus is especially intense in Washington, where the Obama Administration’s drive to conclude the nuclear accord was highly divisive. For instance, some critics urged to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran to curb its missile program. Others suggested using American anti-ballistic missile defense capabilities in the region to target Iranian ballistic trials. According to this rationale, denying the Revolutionary Guards the ability to test missiles would disrupt its research and development opportunities.


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