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Iran announces new weapons, cyber army, ships arms to Hezbollah

The US accused Iran of launching a new missile on Saturday while Tehran boasted it had developed a “radar evading stealth” warship. The two incidents are linked to increased Iranian activity, including a flight to Beirut that allegedly brought arms for Hezbollah, and Tehran’s claims it has pioneered a new cyber army. It shows that Iran is serious about challenging adversaries on sea, land, in the air and online, in a full court press designed to keep the region on alert for Tehran’s next move.

On Saturday the US State Department accused Tehran of test-firing a new medium range ballistic missile “capable of reaching parts of Europe and anywhere in the Mideast.” The risk of escalation is growing, Washington warned. Brian Hook, Washington’s Iran threat czar said that Iran “continues to prioritize missile development as a tool of revolution.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is in Argentina for the G20 with US President Donald Trump, tweeted that the Iranian regime’s test was a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. “Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation is growing.” He said the US condemned the test.

While the US was focusing on the missile test, Tehran was watching a warship launch in Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf. Iran’s Press TV claimed that the country had “launched its most advanced military vessel which has radar-evading stealth properties and can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply.” The Sahand destroyer had been developed by Iran’s “daring and creative” hands and is supposed to be able to project Iran’s influence around the region. It has a flight deck for helicopters and ropedo launchers, and surface to surface missiles, as well as air defense. Iran claims the vessel is “twice stronger” than previous destroyers it has.

This comes at a time of tensions in the Persian Gulf as Iran wants to show off its military strength. Although Iran’s new destroyer is described as a “stealth” destroyer, it doesn’t look greatly different than the US Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that came into service more than a decade ago. Nevertheless Iran’s goal is not to challenge its rivals at sea, but merely to pose a threat to them, and to show off its indigenous abilities. For instance Iran unveiled a new homemade fighter jet dubbed the Kosar earlier this year. The fighter jet was shown to be a copy of a US F-5F and obsolete. But Tehran was making the same point as with its destroyer.

Iran was also accused last week of sending an arms shipment to Beirut. A Fars Air Qeshm 747 left Tehran on Thursday and arrived in Beirut. The same aircraft had previously been flagged for its suspicious activity, including an October flight to Beirut. According to reports in October the airplane is “considered one of the various pseudo-civilian airlines used for arms smuggling by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” What was on the Thursday November 29 flight is not known but it appears to be of a suspicious nature.

In addition to Iran’s threat on land, sea and in the air, The IRGC commander of the Basij gave a speech on Saturday urging young members of the Basij Civic Activist arm to be more active in the war in cyberspace. According to a report at Fars News Brigadier General Gholamhossein Gheybparvar said to the “thousands of revolutionary youths” assembled that there were opportunities in cyberspace.