In yet another move that hovered somewhere between provocative and pestilent, Iran has again engaged in a series of naval and missile exercises in the Persian Gulf. The battery of tests, conducted last week and centered on the Strait of Hormuz—the highly important passageway through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supply passes daily—sparked concerns throughout the region.
While such provocations from Iran are not rare, the regime has increasingly focused its activities around the Strait of Hormuz. In the event of open hostilities with Iran, the regime is making clear its intention to use the Strait, and any subsequent disruption in the flow of oil, as a significant pressure point against the West.
Iran has sought to remind the world of its perceived capacity to disrupt the world oil market and send the global economy into disarray should the West continue its pursuit of sanctions against the Islamic Republic and insist on the abandonment of its nuclear ambitions.
During last week’s military exercises, Iran tested a collection of weapons including the Iranian-produced Ra’ad Air Defense System. The Ra’ad System, according to Iranian Admiral Amir Rastgari, is capable of launching missiles with a range of 30 miles and hitting targets upwards of 75,000 feet in the atmosphere.
The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s airspace division, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, described the Ra’ad system as the “first completely indigenous system…which has been designed and manufactured by committed Iranian technicians…with the aim of confronting (hostile) US aircraft.”
Iranian state media have further described the system as “meant to confront American warplanes in case of a US attack on the country.”
In addition to the Ra’ad system, the Iranian navy also test-fired multiple anti-ship missiles, some of which purport to be capable of skimming the water’s surface in pursuit of a target and destroying large warships.
These weapons complement an existing array of medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles, several of which are capable of striking American bases and allies in the region.
Despite agitation on the part of Iran, the U.S. should not be deterred in its resolve to ensure that the Islamic Republic not acquire nuclear capability. Such a scenario would further destabilize an already tenuous area of the world and only hasten the prospects for a nuclear arms race to develop among the region’s myriad adversaries.
That would prove to be an untenable situation for the U.S. and our allies and would further complicate our nation’s security and foreign policy objectives.