Iran is claiming that it has a new missile with a range of 900 miles on Wednesday, allowing the weapon to reach nearby US bases within the Middle East and the Gulf states and potential targets within Israel.

This report comes after the eighth round of US-Iranian talks resumed in Vienna regarding the Iran nuclear deal. This was after US President Biden promised to restore the agreement (known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), while gaining opposition from both the Republican and Democrat parties.

Iran’s military chief Mohammad Bagheri and IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh unveiling the “Kheibarshekan” missile at an undisclosed location (IRGC/WANA/Handout/REUTERS via Arab News)

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that the new surface-to-surface missile named “Kheibarshekan” (also known as Kheibar Shekan) or “Castle Buster” was unveiled with Chief of Staff of Iranian Armed Forces Major-General Mohammad Bagheri and IRGC Commander of the Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh in celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran last February 1979, which is the foundations of the modern-day Islamic Iran Government.

The name “Kheibarshekan” was allegedly a homage to the Battle of Kheibar in 628 when Islamic warriors took an oasis located in modern-day Saudi Arabia from Jewish tribes which originally had control over the oasis. Therefore, the missile’s name literally means the Muslim defeat of a Jewish tribe or a Jewish tribe defeated by the Muslims.

A state-run media site, Tasnim News Agency, claimed that the Kheibarshekan had “pinpoint accuracy.” The IRNA also claimed that it is highly accurate with high maneuverability for evasive measures against missile defenses, enabling it to allegedly penetrate enemy lines better at long-range targets. The Kheibarshekan also uses a solid fuel system, allowing it to be moved more easily and enabling it to have missiles at a ready-to-use state. These solid-fuel systems are closely associated with ballistic missile systems.

The new missile is also a statement that Iran can still domestically produce its own weapons as they were manufactured by their Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Note that Iran is home to the largest arsenal of missiles in the Middle East, making it a threat with over 16 ballistic missiles fired in 2021 with accompanying threats made to Israel and the U.S.

“We will continue on the path of growth, development, and excellence for our missile power, in terms of both quantity and quality,” said Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri.

Critics of the resumed Iran nuclear deal in Vienna had been aware of Iran’s increased capacity to produce missiles and weapons, especially its known ballistic missile program. The current state of the talks does not address the potential hostile use of its ballistic missiles. Many fear that these ballistic missiles can be upgraded to carry a nuclear warhead if necessary. Thus, if US sanctions are lifted for Iran, it could possibly become the world’s largest arms exporter. However, reports from Vienna state that the talks have been largely unproductive, with the Iranian government blaming the United States for its lack of coherence to make political decisions. Critics deride the negotiations as Iran stalling for time while continuing to develop missiles and a nuclear warhead to attach to them.

Both Republicans and Democrats have publicly voiced their opposition to the resumed Iran nuclear deal. The Republicans sent a letter to Biden, urging the President to put the JCPOA to a vote in the US Congress. The previous deal was not a formal treaty binding on the United States but more of a handshake agreement by President Obama with Iran, If a vote were to happen accompanied by debate and amendments, Biden would need a 2/3s majority vote in the senate for it to be ratified. Which would be a very tall order, On the other hand, Senator Jeff Merkley, Senator Ed Markey, and 20 US-based advocacy groups have pledged their support for talks and continued diplomacy with Iran.

“Many of those who cheered as Trump sabotaged the JCPOA have already made clear that the maximum pressure road ends in a full-blown war between the US and Iran,” said the advocacy groups.

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