The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said today that Iran is the most powerful country in the Middle East and will defy international pressure on defense capabilities, particularly its missile program. “The repeated defeats of America, the Zionist regime [Israel] and the European and regional allies of Washington and Tel Aviv in proxy wars and Takfiri terrorism – which have turned out to be contrary to their expectations – are a reminder of the undeniable fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the undisputable No. 1 power in West Asia, will not be deterred by growing seditions of Western wolves and enemies,” the IRGC emphasized in a statement published on its official website. “It will defend the country’s independence and will not allow the enemies to get close to the gates of its defense superiority and missile deterrence power and to weaken its security shield and national defense.”

Comment: There is a consensus among Iranian leaders that the country should not give any concessions to the United States and European powers relating to Iran’s controversial missile program or regional ambitions. Iran’s Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani also told reiterated that Tehran will never curb its “indigenous” missile technology. On February 6, President Hassan Rouhani echoed similar remarks. “We will not negotiate about our defense and missiles,” he emphasized, adding that Tehran will continue to boost its defense power by producing more planes, missiles and submarines.

The Trump administration has made it clear that US Congress and European powers need to address Iran’s missile program and other loopholes in the 2015 nuclear deal, or he has threatened to terminate it. Latest reports that US-EU working groups are working on ways to deal with Iran’s missile program has triggered concerns in Tehran.

The nuclear accord Tehran signed with world powers in July 2015 did not directly address Iran’s ballistic missile program, but the subsequent UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the agreement, calls upon Iran to abstain from any activity related to ballistic missiles that could carry a nuclear warhead. 

In a defiance of the resolution and Western pressure, however, Iran has conducted nearly two-dozen ballistic missile tests over the past two years. Tehran has also increased the range and precision capability of its missiles, and has reportedly transferred its missile technology to its regional proxies, including to Lebanese, Iraqi and Yemeni groups.