On Monday, March 15th, 2021, Iran released video footage and images of what they described as a Revolutionary Guards base or “missile city.” The base is equipped with cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as “electronic warfare” in a cement walled depot, tells U.S. News via a report on state TV. According to the Middle East Eye, the ballistic missiles at the base are “nuclear capable,” with ranges of up to 2,000 km and abilities fit onto nuclear warheads. Iran “routinely boasts of technological advances in its armed forces” to showcase their preparation for potential attacks and expansive missile stockpile that is one of the largest in the Middle East. In 2020, Iran said it had constructed several of these underground “missile cities” along the Gulf coast, and video footage of the base has now become public. Alireza Tangsiri, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ naval unit, disclosed to state TV that the new equipment could detect enemy signals, and the “electronic warfare” included radar, monitor, simulation and disruption systems, reports Reuters.
Iran continues to voice that it is working toward nuclear weaponry and warfare machinery development. The video footage of the “missile city” comes following reports of uranium enrichment at Natanz and several other locations. The current enrichment levels of uranium in Iran are at 20 percent purity, and 90 percent purity is needed to manufacture a nuclear weapon. Now officials are sharing not only nuclear production but evidence of weaponry reserves. “What we see today is a small section of the great and expansive missile capability of Revolutionary Guards’ naval forces,” says Guards commander Major general Hossein Salami (U.S. News).
With continuing breaches of the 2015 nuclear accord, U.S.-Iran relations have only worsened. It is evident that Iran wants to make clear their nuclear capabilities in case of international conflict. To avert unnecessary tensions and violence in the future, the U.S. and Iran must communicate as soon as possible. Amiable peace talks are crucial to foreign diplomacy, especially in regard to nuclear production and threats of violence.
Iran has been detailing its underground “missile cities” for several years as perhaps a protective measure against other world powers. Admiral Tingsiri even labelled the Revolutionary Guards bases as “nightmares” for enemies of Iran. Officials have clarified that the equipment at the bases is capable of deterring any attack (Newsweek). As Iran has sporadically revealed imagery and footage of the “missile cities” over time, aspects of weapon manufacture in Iran are still unclear. Iran has a long history of interest in nuclear weapon production. Since former President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has violated the terms of the agreement by exceeding agreed-upon limits of enriched uranium. The country also began developing high tech centrifuges that accelerate enrichment at several locations, including Fordow and Natanz (Council on Foreign Relations). Following Iranian general Qasem Soleimani’s targeted assassination by the U.S. last year, Iran declared it would no longer practice restraint on uranium enrichment. And, in February 2021, it announced new restrictions on the IAEA’s power to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities.
The recent video footage comes at a sensitive point between Washington and Tehran. Trump cited Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapon production as a reason for pulling out of the nuclear deal in 2018. He then ramped up trade sanctions on Iran. President Biden now inherits the turmoil between the U.S. and Iran, and the two parties have yet to reinstate the accord and come to a peaceful resolution. The fate of the deal, as well as Iran’s future plans for nuclear production, remains unclear. Iran has called for Washington to make the first move back into compliance, but Biden has yet to act.
Earlier this year, a foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said all nuclear progressions and new decisions by Iran are “reversible” if the U.S. “changes its path and honours its obligations” (Al Jazeera). As both Iran and the U.S. have strayed from their initial pledges in the accord, there must be cooperation to renegotiate and generate mutual benefits from a revised agreement.
Communication could arise in June of 2021 when Iran is set to elect a new president that may put incumbent President Rouhani out of office. A new administration could allow for fresh perspectives on U.S.-Iran relations. A revitalized sense of trust between the two nations could ensure greater chances of long-term peace.
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