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– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Iran Hits Syria With Ballistic Missiles
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Iran launched six ballistic missiles at the Islamic State group in Syria following a June 7 terrorist attack in Tehran. The June 19 strike used Zolfaghar missiles, a solid-fueled system with a claimed range of 700 kilometers. According to Israeli news reports, three missiles fell in Iraq, short of the target in Syria. Iranian Gen. Ramazan Sharif described the strike as successful and threatened more if there are further attacks by the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the June 7 attack on Iran’s parliament and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum.

This was Iran’s first use of ballistic missiles since its war with Iraq in the 1980s, and it is unclear if the launch runs counter to the July 2015 UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal. Security Council Resolution 2231 calls on Iran not to undertake “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” The Zolfaghar’s specifications likely meet the international standard for nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which is defined as one capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload more than 300 kilometers. Iran has argued after testing missiles meeting the nuclear-capable specifications that its activities do not run counter to the resolution because the systems are not “designed” to carry nuclear weapons.—KELSEY DAVENPORT