Although the idea of Iran gaining nuclear weapons is frightening enough on its own, the Islamic Republic is making waves by pushing forward in other areas of warfare. Upgrading ballistic missile technology, increasing cyber-warfare capabilities and increasing support for terrorist groups in the Middle East are all part of the resurgence of Iran as a regional power since the United States opened negotiations with the country after the Islamic State revealed themselves as a major player and not the “JV” team.
A nuclear armed Iran would still have problems with delivery of its weapon systems, but recent improvements in the country’s ballistic missile capabilities are throwing a spotlight on Iranian ambitions. “Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. (Israel has more capable ballistic missiles, but fewer in number and type.) The Islamic Republic is the only country to develop a 2,000-km missile without first having a nuclear weapons capability,” said Michael Elleman from the United States institute of Peace in a recent report.
Although most of the missiles have been acquired from foreign sources, including North Korea, Iran continues to work on its indigenous missiles. Iran’s space program assets, that have already put satellites into orbit, could also be tasked to military applications.
Iran is also pushing forward with a dramatically improved cyber-warfare program with the help of longtime ally China. After the success of the Stuxnet attack on the Iranian nuclear program, the government began upgrading both its defensive and offensive capabilities. This program has been held responsible for the cyber-attack on the Sands Casino in Las Vegas in February 2014. “While both of these nations (Iran and North Korea) have lesser technical capabilities in comparison to Russia and China, these destructive attacks demonstrate that Iran and North Korea are motivated and unpredictable cyber-actors,” said James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to Bloomberg.
The increased activity by Houthi rebels in Yemen can also be laid at Iran’s feet. The Houthi insurgency and the destabilization of Yemen is the latest move in the political game of power between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. This long-term conflict is not only politically motivated, Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are also vying for religious control of the entire area. The religious aspect of the conflict has created an interesting and confusing web of alliances and conflict that can be exasperating for foreign powers (not to mention political writers). Unfortunately, the conflict between Sunni and Shiite cannot be dismissed in any dealings with the Middle East.
Nuclear ambitions may have gotten the United States and other Western countries to the negotiating table with Iran, but that country’s ambitions do not end with joining the nuclear club. Iran wants and intends to be, not only the dominant country in the Middle East, but an aggressive and growing power in the world.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.