Iran is continuing to deceive the world about its long-range missile program and is also continuing its military build-up in Syria despite a devastating Israeli offensive which destroyed 50 Iranian military sites on May 10.
At the same time, the Islamist regime in Tehran has set itself on a crash course with the United States after President Donald J. Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran, and announced he would re-instate biting sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
On Wednesday, The New York Times revealed the existence of a new secret underground facility in the remote Iranian desert where Iran is apparently working on the development of long-range ballistic missiles or even intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM’s) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Times reporter Max Fisher wrote that a team of California-based weapon researchers and five other experts had analyzed satellite images which showed “compelling evidence that Iran is developing long-range missile technology.”
Fisher quoted “Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies who reviewed the material,”who said there was “circumstantial evidence” the satellite images could show “preliminary steps for developing an ICBM five to 10 years down the road, should Tehran wish to do so.”
The facility is located 40 kilometers from the town Shahrud, which was the site of a missile test-launch in 2013, according to Fisher.
The American researchers, reviewing earlier satellite images, discovered the number of buildings at the secret site had increased over time.
The team also found “telltale ground scars” in a crater outside the facility which they said were recent and indicated new test-launches.
“One appeared in 2016, the other in June 2017,” according to Fisher.
The most recent test in 2017 “used a stand estimated to be 370 tons, suggesting the engine powered between 62 and 93 tons of thrust — enough for an intercontinental ballistic missile,” according to the researchers who said the facility is still in use.
The Iranians use heavy vehicles in Shahrud which are coming in and out of a huge tunnel indicating they are building “a large subterranean structure” according to the scientists.
They are confident that the absence of fuel tanks indicates Iran is building missile engines that use solid fuel such as ICBM’s.
The new discovery shows Iran has secret facilities related to its missile and nuclear program the world didn’t know about or chose to ignore, observers say.
It is possible that U.S. intelligence knew about the site but was told by the previous administration to hide the information in order not to jeopardize the negotiations about the JCPOA.
Under UNSC resolution 2231, which formalized the JCPOA, Iran was “called upon” not to undertake “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
It is not the first time Iran was recently caught developing underground sites for its missile and nuclear program.
At the end of March the Washington-based Institute For Science And International Security (ISIS) released a report dealing with a secret underground facility in Qusayr in the Qalamoun Mountains in west Syria, near the Lebanese border.
The report said “there is reason to believe that Syria, apparently with help from North Korea and Iran, built a new underground nuclear facility in Qusayr.”
In fact the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is controlling the underground nuclear site in the Syrian town.
A Hezbollah commander called the Qusayr site “ the atomic factory” which was guarded by “Iranian officers” according to members of the Free Syrian Army.
Qusayr was one of the main targets of the IAF during the massive four-hour-during Israeli offensive against Iran in Syria in night of May 10.
The Israeli offensive has not deterred Iran, however.
The Quds Force of the IRGC and its Shiite allies continue their entrenchment in Syria and are also continuing to encroach on the Israeli border on the Golan Heights ,forcing the IAF to launch new pre-emptive strikes.
On Monday, unknown warplanes attacked an Iranian operations center at the headquarters of the Syrian Department of Electronic Warfare near Damascus after a large cargo plane arrived from Tehran.
The airstrike also destroyed a number of barracks of Iranian-backed Shiite militias at a state security school in the area.
This was followed on Tuesday by reports Shiite militias, including Hezbollah, were suddenly withdrawing from the Daraa and Quneitra provinces in Syria after “intensive reconnaissance flights over the region,” most likely by the IAF.
The IDF, using artillery, had earlier prevented Hezbollah from setting up camp near Quneitra once again.
Other evidence Iran has no plans to revise its strategy for the Middle East and is not impressed by the actions of the Trump Administration and Israel came from high ranking Iranian officials.
President Hassan Rouhani said “the Iranian nation is not afraid of empty threats” by “the extremists” in Washington and claimed Iran would be “victorious” in a conflict with the U.S.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Trump’s policy change is an indication of “US officials’ despair and desperation in the face of the Iranian nation,” and said nobody is entitled to tell Iran what polities to adopt in the Middle East, “its own region”.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei predicted Trump would “vanish from history” like his predecessors and that the U.S. would be defeated.
Responding to the 12 basic requirements to issued by the Trump Administration in the aftermath of the decision to quit the JCPOA, Khamenei invoked the cat and mouse adventures of Tom and Jerry.
“The US has tried various political, economic, military and propaganda undertakings to hit the Islamic Republic but all these plots failed. Like the famous cat in Tom and Jerry they will lose again,” Khamenei said.
The Iranian dictator has now threatened to expand its nuclear program beyond the limits of the JCPOA and demands from the Europeans that they facilitate trade via their banks and buy oil in Iran.
At the same time Ali Shamkhani the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) vowed Iran would continue to develop missiles and would not stop its support for “Hamas, Islamic Jihad Movement, Hezbollah and the axis of resistance in the region.”
Shamkani also said Iran would give “a crushing response” to new “violence by the Zionist regime” and to “US adventurism” in the region.