The Islamic Republic of Iran successfully test-launched a ballistic missile last week, according to state-media sources.
Iranian officials debuted the Khoramshahr-4 weapon, which can allegedly strike targets within roughly 1,200 miles. The Associated Press reported that the nearly 3,300-pound warhead is the latest expansion of Tehran’s missile program, which it has been developing despite concerns by the U.S. and other European countries.
“Iran’s newest ballistic missile and the latest product of the defense ministry’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) was unveiled today in a ceremony attended by the defense minister,” IRNA added.
Iran’s Defense Minister also claimed that the missile could be prepared for launch in the imminent future. This announcement comes a few days after Israel’s IDF Chief of Staff cautioned that a potential kinetic war with Iran could ensue over the regime’s nuclear program.
Was the launch a direct threat to Israel?
In a video circulated by state-run media, the medium-range precision-guided projectile dubbed Kheibar can be seen launching next to a waving Iranian flag. A miniature example of the Dome of the Rock on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was also included in today’s missile launch. The inclusion of the Dome of the Rock indicates Tehran was responding to Israel’s recent warnings regarding the country’s nuclear efforts. Israel’s top military official disclosed that Tehran has made significant progress in the uranium enrichment front, adding that “Without going into details, there are possible negative developments on the horizon that could prompt action.”
Earlier this month, Israeli officials revealed that Iran had amassed enough raw material to develop five nuclear bombs. European countries have also expressed concerns with Tehran’s nuclear development and have even pressed the Biden administration to revive negotiations that would result in a new Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to the United Nations, Iran is actively producing uranium enriched up to 60% and has already stockpiled a small amount of near-weapons-grade material. The proliferation and development of Iran’s ballistic missiles program poses an equal threat to regional and international security. Last week, the U.S. charged a Chinese national with violating sanctions by aiding Iran’s ballistic missile development. Federal prosecutors in New York charged the individual for providing Tehran with materials needed to produce these types of weapons.
What we know about the Khorramshahr-4 ballistic missile:
The Kheibar missile Iran successfully test-launched is the latest iteration of the Khorramshahr, which was introduced in 2017. Both the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Jane’s Defense believe that this missile system is Tehran’s version of Pyongyang’s own Hwasong-10. As detailed in a Jane’s Defense report, the new Kheibar variant possesses a more “advanced engine that uses hypergolic fuel, giving it a range of 2,000 km with a 1,500 kg warhead.
Unlike other types of fuel/oxidiser combinations, the new propellant can be kept in tanks for years, shortening the preparation time for a launch to 12 minutes, making it a tactical weapon, it was claimed. The new propellant also requires smaller tanks, reducing the Khorramshahr’s motor section to about 13 m with the warhead adding about 4 m to the missile’s length, it was reported. The airframe is also made of a stronger composite material.”
Additionally, the Kheibar features a mid-phase navigation system that allows it to alter its trajectory when outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
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Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.