Iran Opposition Unveils IRGC Missile Sites

Iran has been pursuing an extensive ballistic missile program through dozens of very important sites, including twelve unknown to this day and one specifically linked to its highly sensitive and controversial nuclear program, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed at a press conference Tuesday in Washington.

The NCRI, citing sources of coalition member People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) network inside Iran, in this case in Iran’s Defense Ministry & the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has a history of blowing the whistle on Tehran’s ballistic missile program, nuclear weapons drive, terrorism and meddling across the Middle East and beyond, and human rights violations.

Various aspects of the dozen hitherto-unknown sites involved in ballistic missile production, testing and launches, all controlled by the IRGC, were also unveiled.

NCRI US Office Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh presented satellite imagery on the sites and details of North Korean experts who took part in the construction of such highly essential centers.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei demanded the acceleration of missiles production and tests following the nuclear deal signed with the P5+1 and specifically tasking the IRGC Aerospace Force to realize this objective.

The scope of Iran’s IRGC-pursued missile program is far more extensive than previously perceived. In this press conference the NCRI identified the locations of 42 IRGC sites, of which 15 are involved in missile manufacturing and containing several factories linked to a missile industry group.

Four of Iran’s most important missile sites are located in the cities of Semnan (east of Tehran), Lar (southcentral Iran), Khorramabad (western Iran) and near Karaj (west of Tehran), according to the PMOI/MEK sources. Iran has only acknowledged the existence of two of these sites to this day.

The Semnan site has been actively associated to SPND, Iran’s organization in charge of building a nuclear weapon, PMOI/MEK sources revealed. SPND has carried out many of its tests at this site.

SPND is the Persian acronym for the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, including Iran’s nuclear weapons program engineering unit. The NCRI first unveiled the existence of SPND in July 2011, leading to its sanctioning three years later.

IRGC missile sites have all been constructed based on North Korean blueprints, according to PMOI/MEK sources, adding Pyongyang’s experts have also been present at sites assisting their Iranian counterparts.

The NCRI revelation comes at a sensitive timing as the US Senate levied extensive new sanctions on Iran covering particularly its ballistic missile program, and support for terrorism and human rights violations.

All factions of the regime in Iran are fully supportive of their drive to upgrade their ballistic missile program, considered a critical aspect of the mullahs’ national security framework and foreign policy.

“We will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boasted recently.

The region is currently engulfed in escalating tension as Iran launched six medium-range ballistic missiles targeting ISIS in eastern Syria on Sunday. Adding to the list of turmoil, the US military shot down a Syrian regime Su-22 fighter jet near the city of Raqqa for dropping bombs on US-allied ground forces. This is a first for Washington in the six-year long multi-faceted Syrian conflict.

This increase in foreign crises, parallel to Iran’s powder keg society causing major dilemmas for the mullahs as protests elevate across the country, will be a major issue of discussion in the upcoming NCRI annual convention scheduled for July 1st in Paris.

The NCRI, representing the most powerful Iranian opposition coalition, is calling for the following measures against Tehran:

  • Enacting and implementing effective and comprehensive sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and all associated individuals and entities,
  • Designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization as the institution behind Iran’s missile program, terrorism and meddling,
  • Evicting the IRGC and all affiliated proxy militias from Middle East countries, specifically Syria and Iraq.
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Understanding The New Iran Sanctions

Acting as a major wake up call for Iran, the US Senate on Thursday sent a strong message to the mullahs through a bill fit to place new sanctions targeting Tehran’s ballistic missile program, its support for regional and global terrorism and human rights violations.

Experts have noted the powerful nature of these new measures and analysts close to the Iranian regime have dubbed this measure as the “mother of all sanctions.”

Foad Izadi, a Tehran University assistant professor, in a recent interview with state TV reflected on the depth of this advantage and described the nuclear sanctions as child’s play in comparison.

When we place these new sanctions alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s support for regime change in Iran through peaceful steps and Members of Congress calling for blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, we find the mullahs on the receiving end of very commanding signal.

The 98-2 vote has approved a sleek text that abides by the Iran nuclear deal. These sanctions, technically considered secondary, are in compliance with the nuclear deal due to the very characteristics of Iran’s missile program being excluded from the so-called “landmark” agreement that has failed to provide anything to boast about for the Iranian people. This was yet another concession provided by the Obama administration to Tehran, and the mullahs are seeking to capitalize by operating hand in hand.

“It truly is astounding what Iran continues to do around the world,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “For a people that are capable of so much, their foreign policy is shockingly counter to their own interest.

“We see destabilizing act after destabilizing act — from missile launches, to arms transfers, to terrorist training, to illicit financial activities, to targeting Navy ships and detaining American citizens — the list goes on and on.”

The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 enjoys an overwhelming focus on sanctioning any foreign individual or entity doing business with a counterpart pre-designated by the US administration in association with Iran’s ballistic missile program. For example, these sanctions can be imposed on any financial institution or foreign company involved in providing key parts or components necessary for Tehran’s controversial missile program.

Two other such actions by the Treasury Department in February and May were preludes, as the administration officially slapped sanctions against a slate of individuals and entities procuring for Iran’s ballistic missile program. The February sanctions were in response to Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile test in late-January, considered by many as a United Nations Security Council Resolution violation.

There are also voices heard questioning the effectiveness of this new measure able to add any particular new bite considering the already extensive landscape of US measures. And yet it is also recognized how such an initiative will be sending a very dominant political message to Iran.

The mullahs in Tehran are also one of, if not the, leading state in human rights violations. While many boasted of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gaining a second term launching a new drive for moderation, there are already increasing reports of dozens of executions ever since the May 19th vote and sweeping crackdown across the country. The recent twin attacks in Tehran on June 7th, which was claimed by ISIS, are also being exploited by the mullahs’ to increase domestic crackdown and foreign meddling.

  • At least 30 inmates in a Southeast Iran prison are on the verge of execution, reports.
  • As the Middle East is engulfed in a rift with many states severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, Iran continues to fuel the dilemma through capitalizing on this sensitive subject.
  • Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen recently targeted three Saudi aid trucks delivering relief aid.
  • Iranian boats resorted to new “unsafe and unprofessional” moves in training a laser on a US Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter as three US Naval ships were transiting Strait of Hormuz international waters.

The world has already experienced how a policy of appeasement and engagement has only emboldened the mullahs to the point of taking advantage of such dismal practices by the international community.

The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have a history of unveiling Iran’s plots and warning the world about Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, ballistic missile drive, meddling across the Middle East and supporting terrorism, and resorting to unspeakable human rights violations.

This new round of sanctions will be considered a significant blow to these the Iranian regime’s illicit efforts, especially as experts believe the path is being paved to blacklist Iran’s IRGC. The Guards play a major, if not the leading, role in all the above-stated belligerences, and most concerning today is the foreign meddling that continues to wreak havoc in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and a variety of international waterways that can disrupt billions of dollars of economic transactions.

The new US Senate sanctions are very necessary indeed, as Iran only understands the language of force. This very correct measure should act as the building block and cornerstone of a new foundation of strong action to rein in Iran’s mullahs and finally bring about true and everlasting change and peace.

ANALYSIS: Iran’s Khamenei and IRGC capitalizing on recent attacks

The remarks made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can be viewed as seeking to capitalize on the recent attacks in Tehran that left 17 dead and dozens more wounded.

“If the Islamic Republic had not taken a stance in the center of all this sedition, we would have experienced many problems inside the country,” he said in reference to his regime’s meddling in Syria. The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), being the main lever at Khamenei’s disposal to pursue his policies, is also seeking its own interests.

The IRGC, being one of the main parties involved in developments inside Iran and the region, suffered damages in the recent attack and is seeking its own share of profit. The IRGC’s image also endured a major blow in the recent presidential election in Iran and more recently a US Senate vote seeking more sanctions. There questions rising on how convenient these attacks were staged on hours in advance of the Senate vote.

Thus, bouncing back from such this series of setbacks seemed impossible. In response, Tehran will seek to capitalize on this turn of events as a major platform to justify launching future measures.

Major setbacks

Following US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region and the severing of diplomatic ties by numerous Arab countries with Qatar, a known ally of Iran in the region, Tehran needed desperately to portray itself a victim of terrorism and pave a necessary path in this regard.

The IRGC is also terrified of even the slightest influence enjoyed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Khamenei’s opinion and decisions. The recent attacks in Tehran can be described as a nail in the coffin for Khamenei to show any softness. This is exactly what the IRGC needed at this particular timing.

For a variety of reasons the IRGC will profit from establishing a certain high security atmosphere inside the country. Firstly, to begin an initiative to pressure Rouhani’s cabinet, and secondly, preparing the grounds for determining Khamenei’s successor, an issue discussed extensively in different circles across Iran.

“To those who sacrifice the country’s security, destiny and interests for short-term and factional political gains, have they learned nothing from the recent attacks? This incident should be considered a major wake-up call for those involved in politics, to know we are all sailing in the same ship here,” a piece read in the Kayhan daily, known to be Khamenei’s mouthpiece.

This February 17, 1989 Tehran photo shows Iranian people gathered in front of the Azadi Tower for the 10th anniversary of the plan, marking the Islamic revolution. (AFP)

The ultimate foe

The IRGC also sought to target the main source threatening the very existence of the mullahs’ regime. “This terrorist incident is similar to the crimes committed by the infidels in the 1980s,” the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency wrote. Infidels is the term used in the Iranian regime apparatus for the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

“Now we must decide what actions must be taken to confront the terrorists. The judiciary and security forces must arrest these criminals, prosecute and execute them,” the piece reads, further signaling how the IRGC will seek to justify upcoming crackdown measures against an already restive Iranian society.

“Those who are against our struggles in Iraq and Syria should come to realize how sweet security is, and how bitter is insecurity,” the piece continued.

Questions

Eyewitness have pressed on the suspicious nature of this attack, especially armed assailants being able to enter the parliament building with assault rifles and vests full of explosives.

“They wouldn’t even allow us take a pen inside. They just said we will take your papers and documents upstairs. How can armed men come into the legislative building? There were no security guards and no security equipment,” one injured man said to Iran’s Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi. Similar conflicting reports were also witnessed in other state and IRGC media outlets.

“Iran’s Deputy Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council said those involved in these attacks were of Iranian nationality. Whereas other state media, including Tabnak website affiliated to former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaie, the accent heard from the terrorists indicated these individuals were not Iranian Arabs, but most certainly of foreign nationality,” according to the Tabnak website.

Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence also issued a statement announcing the first names of five of the assailants, refusing, for some reason, not to mention their last names.

Other objectives

On a broader scale, Iran also failed to prevent a highly significant US Senate initiative seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran. This regime has been described a destabilizing entity and if such a bill gains final approval after the 92-7 initial stage setting vote, Iran’s IRGC will be blacklisted as a foreign terrorist organization.

Was it a coincidence that Tehran’s attacks took place only hours before the Senate planned its bill discussion and a number of known regime lobbyists went the distance to delay the measure? You be the judge. As a final thought, this entire string of developments have played into the hands of Iran’s Khamenei and IRGC.

The Iranian regime desperately needs such an open hand to have any hope of confronting the status quo, especially since the Trump administration has yet to define its Iran policy, the future of the Iran nuclear deal is in questions, sanctions will not be lifted from Iran and Washington will most likely be demanding concessions from Tehran in the region.