Shooting off at the mouth and shooting off missiles
On Wednesday, Iran fired at least nine long-range missiles. Iranian missile tests are irresponsible and show blatant disregard for global security issues. They damage fragile international relations in an already unstable and war-torn region and could create global economic ripples.
One missile type, the Shehab-3 ballistic missile, is of great concern to the international community. This missile can reportedly travel 1,250 miles, placing almost all American military bases in the region in its crosshairs. Israel, India, Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran’s other adjoining countries could be struck as well.
While these missiles have extraordinary range, they do not have much accuracy.
Incoming missiles might land as far as 2.5 miles or more from their intended targets, meaning they could hit a suburb instead of an intended downtown city area. Missiles this inaccurate cannot effectively target military units. Instead, they are only effective against broad, civilian populations.
The Iranian government’s insistence on its right to pursue nuclear technology further heightens the great hazard these weapons represent. BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus said that the intent of the Iranian missile launches was to deter the possibility of an Israeli or U.S. attack against domestic nuclear installations.
The tests produced immediate international response. The price of oil rose again after appearing to almost stabilize, adding volatility to a major international market.
According to bloomberg.com, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said he views the tests with grave concern. White House National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that Iran risks never gaining the world’s trust unless it halts such tests.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that the danger posed by these missiles is the reason why everyone should be interested in blocking any escalation, and a representative of the German government called the Iranian test a regrettable gesture of ill will, according to Reuters.
In February, UK newspaper The Guardian quoted Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov saying that Iranian long-range missiles were a cause of concern.
Ultimately, the Iranians put themselves at risk by behaving this badly.
Iranian officials seem bent on destabilizing the Middle East. The entire history of Iran’s theocratic government has made the democratic governments that deal with it nervous.
The harsh penalties that the Iranian people face for criminal offenses and the government’s severe restrictions on basic freedoms, such as speech and press, worry the West. The Iranian government refuses to cooperate with nuclear negotiators in the international community and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to spout inflammatory statements about wiping Israel off the map.
The Iranian point of view is likely that things have not been going their way lately. The United States has troops on Iran’s eastern and western borders. President Bush has demonstrated a penchant for unilateral, pre-emptive attacks and with his term of office almost complete, he has little to worry about in regards to the consequences of an attack.
The Iranian government and many Iranian citizens are bitter about the creation of the Jewish homeland in what was previously an Arab country. Many still despise the American-sponsored coup in the 1950s that ousted the democratic government and led to the despotic rule of the Shah.
While any of these complaints – or indeed all of them – may be valid, none of them give Iran the right to threaten its neighbors and destabilize the Middle East. Eventually, one of the players in the region will be pushed too far and push back against this real or perceived threat, leading to a snowball effect that the Iranian government can blame on no one but itself.
Jason Olivero has received a bachelor’s in anthropology from the University of Florida and is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering.