Despite an annex in the UN adoption of the Iran nuclear deal calling on the Islamic regime to desist from nuclear-capable ballistic missile activity, Iran is planning to resume long-range ballistic missile drills in the coming months according to a key army commander.
Iranian Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced on Thursday that six specialized military drills testing domestic rocketry are to be held by next March, reports the semi-official Fars News Agency.
"The Ground Force will stage six war games," Pourdastan said, noting the first drill will take part in the western part of the country in the fall, followed by a second war game in the eastern part of Iran.
Significantly, he said that specialized missile drills will also be included in the war games.
There has been a push in the Iranian parliament to resume ballistic missile drills following the nuclear deal as a show of force and a military deterrent against the US and Israel. That push comes despite the fact that the ban on Iranian ballistic missile trade is only to be lifted after eight years according to the nuclear deal.
The discussion on ballistic testing follows a disagreement between the US and Iran regarding a statement in Annex B of UN Resolution 2231, which adopted the Iran nuclear deal last month.
That statement reads: "Iran is 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, until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier."
America has stressed ballistic missile activity is forbidden by the clause, while Iran says it has not accepted the annex, and claims its missiles are not designed for nuclear payloads meaning the paragraph is irrelevant in any case.
However, Iran's domestic long-range ballistic missiles are in fact nuclear capable according to international reports, particularly the Shahab 3 and Sejjil 2.
According to Fars, both the US and Iran have accepted that the paragraph is non-binding in that it merely "calls" on Iran to desist from the missile activity.
Iran's Foreign Ministry reacted to the annex in a statement, saying that its ballistic missile program will not be harmed by the resolution.
Former Pentagon adviser and rogue regime expert Michael Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon that the lifting of restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program will encourage the leading state sponsor of terror to ramp up its hostility.
"How quaint. We stop sanctions on ballistic missiles to get a deal, basically finance the revolutionary guard and Iran’s shopping spree, and they turn around and use it to bolster their deterrence against us,” Rubin said. “Of course, if they weren’t planning to cheat, they wouldn’t need to worry about last resort military action.”
Iran has been stepping up its military stance; just this Tuesday it held joint naval war games with Russian warships in Iranian waters.