New missile enables Iran attack on Europe

Iran showcased the new Soumar missile, capable of an attack on Europe. Analysts are speculating this public display is a signal to the US and Israel, demonstrating growing Iranian power.

Iran Soumar MissileIran unveiled a new cruise missile on Sunday that is capable of reaching parts of Europe. This is the first time that the Islamic Republic has made developments in its cruise missile program public, raising questions about whether this display was intended as a signal for the upcoming round of nuclear negotiations. 

The Soumar missile was introduced on Sunday in photographs and a short video. The missile closely resembles the Russian Kh-55, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Ukraine sold a dozen Kh-55s remaining from the Soviet era to Iran in 2001, which seem to have been reverse engineered for the development of the Soumar. The original Kh-55 has a range of about 1,500 miles, which would enable an Iran attack on southern and eastern Europe. However, while the Kh-55 was designed to be released from an airplane, the Soumar has a booster that allows it to be released from the sea or ground. 

Iran has made clear during the nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 that its missile development program was not up for discussion. Although the United States has said that it will insist on the long-distance missile program being curtailed in any final agreement, leaked details of the negotiations suggest that this is not the case. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized this development in his speech to the US Congress, saying that it would effectively allow Iran to develop a warhead capable of delivering a nuclear bomb ahead of the expiration of the agreement with the P5+1 in 10 years. 

In late February, Russia, a member of the P5+1, confirmed that it had offered to sell Iran Antey-2500 anti-aircraft missile systems. The offer was intended to compensate Iran for the failed 2007 sale of five S-300 systems, which was canceled due to 2010 UN sanctions focused on arms sales. Both Israel and the US objected to the S-300 sale. 

The deadline for a draft agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is March 31.