Iran on Monday launched a new round of war games, called the Great Prophet 7, that will involve firing missiles at 100 targets including models of foreign air bases. The drill, which will continue through Thursday, will also test dozens of Shahab and Zelzal long-range missiles. This latest showing of Iranian military might comes two weeks after failed diplomatic talks in Moscow between the European Union and the Islamic Republic.
At the announcement of the Great Prophet 7, Iran picked on its favorite target, Israel. Talking about the repercussions of a potential Israeli airstrike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities, General Ami Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ airspace unit, threatened to eliminate the Jewish state through the use of Shahab-3 long range missiles. Hajizadeh also claimed that Iran is developing a missile that could defeat the Iron Dome. Though the Iranian General’s claim is fallacious, as the Iron Dome is designed for short-range rockets and the Arrow is Israel’s system designed to defend against the Shahab-3, any Iranian military threat against Israel ought to be taken seriously.
An S-200 missile is launched during a war games exercise near Tehran. (Photo: AP)
By announcing this week’s missile drill, Tehran appears to be laughing in the face of new EU sanctions that took effect July 1. The sanctions ban imports of Iranian oil by European Union countries and, compounded with recent American sanctions prohibiting international banks from processing petroleum transactions with Tehran, are designed to suffocate Iran’s economy to force it to end its nuclear program or, at the very least, give more ground at the next round of diplomatic talks scheduled for this Tuesday in Istanbul. Tehran has admitted that the sanctions have taken a toll, as Iran’s oil exports have fallen 40% over the past six months. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed the latest sanctions, claiming that they will severely limit the Islamic Republic’s ability to continue to buy more time. The White House echoed these sentiments.
Since the failure of the Moscow talks two weeks ago, Iran has adopted an even tougher posture toward the rest of the world, which has manifested itself in this week’s war games. The regime has also continued its anti-Semitic rhetoric, recently claiming that Zionism and the Talmud are responsible for the world’s drug trade. Iran’s tough posture may also manifest itself in the proposed closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. Much to the worry of Washington — as well as Brussels and Jerusalem — the Islamic Republic may well take this hard-headed attitude into the next round of nuclear talks.