Iran says it built 3rd underground ballistic missile factory, vows to increase capabilities

Iran says it built 3rd underground ballistic missile factory, vows to increase capabilities
Iran has built its third underground ballistic missile production factory, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards airspace division said, adding that the Islamic Republic will continue to “forcefully” develop its missile capabilities.

“Iran’s third underground factory has been built by the Guards in recent years… We will continue to further develop our missile capabilities forcefully,” Amirali Hajizadeh said, as quoted by Fars News Agency.

He went on to state that "the next missile to be produced is a surface-to-surface missile."

Hajizadeh also said that “it is natural that our enemies America and the Zionist regime (Israel) are angry with our missile program because they want Iran to be in a weak position."

US President Donald Trump has taken a hardline stance against Iran since taking office in January. During a trip to the Middle East earlier this week, he blamed it for being the main source of instability in the region.

In response, Tehran accused Trump of “repetitive and baseless claims,” saying he was trying to spread “Iranophobia.” 

Trump put Iran “on notice” in February, stating on Twitter that he wouldn't be as “kind” to the Islamic Republic as his predecessor Barack Obama was.

Trump imposed new sanctions against the country in response to its recent missile launches, prompting Iran to sanction nine American individuals and companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperation with Israel. 

The US leader also referred to the 2015 landmark nuclear deal made between Tehran and six world powers, including the US, as “disastrous” and the “worst deal ever negotiated,” threatening to dismantle the agreement.

As part of the deal, Iran agreed to reduce the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds, cap its enrichment below the level needed for weapons-grade material, reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent from around 10,000kg for 15 years, and allow international inspections. This was done in exchange for lifting international sanctions on Iran.

READ MORE: Tillerson warns 'unchecked Iran' could follow path of North Korea

Responding to Trump’s criticism of the deal before he even took office, the country’s defense minister said the possibility of the Trump administration taking a “different path” regarding the deal had led to “unease,” warning that US ally Israel and smaller Gulf states would be destroyed if Trump started a war with Iran. 

Meanwhile, Israel continues its own anti-Tehran rhetoric, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referring to “Iran’s march of terror and aggression in the region” and “unbridled ambition to become a nuclear weapons state” earlier this week.