Senior Iranian military officials this week boasted that they had stockpiled a huge quantity of long-range ballistic missiles that are pointed directly at Israel.
Two such missiles were tested this week on targets at a range of 1,400 kilometers (870 miles), putting Israel well within range if fired from western Iran.
Brig. General Amir Ali Haji Zada, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s air corps, told Iranian media that these missiles “belong to the Palestinian people.” It was also reported that the test missiles were inscribed in Hebrew with the words “Israel must be wiped out.”
Brigadier General Hossein Salami, Deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, told journalists on Wednesday that he was confident that Israel would collapse very soon.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry called on the international community to “act firmly and decisively against the continuing missile launches from Iran and the continued development of the country’s missile program.”
But thus far the Obama Administration has done little but register impotent complaints with Tehran and the UN.
The government of North Korea has once again fired short-range ballistic missiles into the sea as a form of protest against new United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang and a large-scale military training exercise being conducted by American and South Korean troops.
The missiles in question are believed to be Scud series missiles, South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced following the launch. Pyongyang fired two missiles over the sea, apparently from coastal Wonsan city, which flew about 500 kilometers before splashing down, sinking. The Japanese government has lodged a formal complaint, as North Korea’s longer-range missiles are capable of hitting Japanese territory, Reuters notes.
This is the second such missile launch this month. On March 3, the South Korean government confirmed that North Korea shot up to six unidentified “projectiles,” believed to be short-range rockets or missiles, into the East Sea. While the launches did not cause any damage, South Korea considers these incidents “provocations” intended to express an interest in attacking enemies of Pyongyang more directly. In February, following the launch of a long-range rocket allegedly used to lodge a satellite into orbit, dictator Kim Jong-un ordered the military to prepare more rocket launches of a similar nature.
This month, Kim reportedly ordered the nation’s complete nuclear arsenal on “standby” before threatening a “pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice” on the United States. “The indiscriminate nuclear strike … will clearly show those keen on aggression and war, the military mettle of (North Korea),” North Korea’s government said in a statement posted through the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Two days later, KCNA announced that Kim Jong-un had attended a ceremony celebrating the production of a miniaturized nuclear warhead, allowing Pyongyang to place its nuclear weapons on long-range missiles. As the KCNA report and accompanying photo are the only evidence proving this claim, it is unclear whether North Korea does possess this technology.
At the Surface Warship Summit in Bucharest, Romania, from Jan. 26 to 28, the commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command, Vice Adm. Clive Johnstone expressed concerns regarding several escalating situations in the Mediterranean.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has consolidated its area of control along Libya’s Mediterranean coast, is attempting to increase its naval capabilities to attack maritime targets with anti-ship weapons in the vein of Hezbollah.
Johnstone also talked about the issue of Russia’s increasing presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, spurred on by its commitment to Syria and the expansion of the naval base in Tartus. On 17 February retired Adm. James Stavridis echoed many of Johnstone’s fears regarding the Islamic State and Russian adventurism. Stavridis also raises the issue of the 1.2 million refugees who have crossed to Europe, a number that will only increase and is overwhelming many states.
Current NATO-led efforts in the Mediterranean are insufficient, and Vice Admiral Johnstone has recognized this issue, and has called for more ships to be sent. Beyond the newly-deployed three-ship flotilla, the alliance has been conducting Operation Active Endeavour, which has been patrolling in the Mediterranean since 2001. However, with only three to four ships deployed at one time, the mission is severely undermanned for an area as large as the Mediterranean. Two separate, understrength flotillas are simply not enough to counter the increasing pressure coming under Europe.