Preparing to Push
On August 11, Tehran announced that it had successfully carried out a field test of the latest version of its Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile. With an estimated range of 810 miles according to defense experts, it has the capability of reaching Israel (Reuters, August 11).
The Shahab-3 test was followed up by a statement by Yadollah Javani, head of the political bureau of Iran’s influential Revolutionary Guards, confirming that Iran would use this missile (Stratfor, August 18). In a separate statement, the deputy chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, threatened, “If Israel fires a missile into the Bushehr nuclear power plant, it has to say goodbye forever to its Dimona nuclear facility …” (ibid.).
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani followed up on this by stating on al Jazeera television the next day, “Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventative operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly” (ibid., August 19).
Just over two weeks prior to the missile test, while claiming that the development of the missile was merely for deterrent purposes, a spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards warned that if Iran were attacked, “Tehran’s reaction will be so harsh that Israel will be wiped off the face of the Earth …” (Agence France Presse, July 26).
The same month, Iran’s official news agency irna reported that the head of the Iranian army’s ground forces, Brig. Gen. Naser Mohammadifar, said his troops were “combat ready” and possessed a “martyrdom-seeking spirit,” which they must show to “the enemies”—a term Iranians use to refer to Israel and the U.S. (ibid., July 28).
Iran even refused to compete against Israel at the Athens Olympics, with a government spokesman stating, “Our policy is not to recognize the Zionist regime in any international event” (Reuters, August 16).
This latest round of inflammatory talk by Iranian officials against Israel comes at the same time Iran continues to push its weight around in other areas also. At the beginning of August, a secret conference reportedly was convened by Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, to “underline a policy of nuclear brinkmanship” in response to international criticism of Iran’s nuclear program (debkafile, August 8). High-ranking Iranian officials at this meeting, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, endorsed the decision to “tough it out” (ibid.).
This nuclear brinkmanship is clear to see. Iran has continued to blatantly flout the agreement brokered by Europe late last year to control its nuclear program. Deutsche Welle reported in July that Tehran had broken seals placed on uranium enrichment equipment by the International Atomic Energy Agency and threatened to resume its production of centrifuges (July 29). It was also reported that Iranian officials were caught negotiating with a Russian company to acquire a substance used to enhance nuclear explosions.
This provocative behavior is all a part of Iran’s ongoing efforts toward regional supremacy. “… Iran is threatening to attack U.S. allies in order to secure its national interests” (Stratfor, August 20).
As previously reported in this magazine, it has been a long-time goal of Iran’s to gain control over Iraq. With the United States removing Saddam Hussein from power, Iran saw its opportunity to get a Shiite-dominated, Iran-friendly government into Baghdad. Since that time, Iran has been involved in an increasingly hostile diplomatic struggle with the U.S. over the future of Iraq. Iran recently turned up the heat using its ally Moqtada al-Sadr—resulting in the August fighting in Najaf. Clearly, Iran is not about to let go of its chance to gain a controlling influence in Iraq—and it will go to great lengths for that purpose.
Both Iran’s nuclear card and its efforts to provoke Israel are maneuvers toward this end. “Needling the Israelis is Tehran’s attempt to bring international condemnation down on Washington by playing the ‘Zionist’ card. … An Israeli counter-threat against the Iranians would play into Tehran’s hands—distracting the United States, mitigating U.S. pressure upon Tehran and perhaps forcing a bit of movement out of Washington in ongoing negotiations over Iraq” (ibid., August 18).
At the same time, stronger alliance with al Qaeda, military action in Iraq and the manipulation of oil supply cannot be ruled out as means Iran could use to gain more leverage in the region (ibid., August 13).
Some may dismiss Iran’s threats against Israel as having no substance or downplay its nuclear and other capabilities. But Iran’s threats are not just rhetoric. In our November 2003 issue, editor in chief Gerald Flurry described Iran’s plans as a “massive plot to control the Middle East.” Mr. Flurry went on to say, “The most precious jewel of Iran’s plan is to conquer Jerusalem.”
Israel certainly isn’t taking the threats against it lightly—even if exercising restraint at the behest of the U.S. Israel knows Iran is deadly serious in its stated strategic goal to destroy it as a nation. According to debkafile, Iran’s nuclear program together with the development of the Shahab-3 missile is “seen by policymakers in Jerusalem as the greatest threat to Israel’s existence since 1948” (op. cit.).
Sure, Iran’s goals in the short-term are strategic—aimed at domination of Iraq and other Islamic countries. In the process, some of its actions are no doubt bluff as it plays political games with the U.S. But the fulfilment of Iran’s regional strategic goals will lead to it taking its place as the prophesied king of the south that will “push” at the king of the north—a European power (Daniel 11:40). In reality, Iran even now is preparing for this push. And, as Mr. Flurry has stated, “This push no doubt revolves around Jerusalem and biblical Judah (called Israel today)—just as the clashes in the time of the Crusades did” (op. cit.). The stage is being set. To find out more, please request our booklet The King of the South.