Iran schedules major test of ICBM shortly after next presidential inauguration

(NationalSecurity.news) In what may be an early test of resolve for the next administration, Iran appears to be planning a major test of an ICBM within a month of the presidential inauguration, serving notice to whomever wins the Oval Office that the Islamic republic continues to be a threat to global peace.

The February 2017 test was announced in a timetable issued by Iran, the Washington Free Beacon reported, signaling that Tehran will continue to work on advanced missile technology even as it conducts other tests to perfect its work.

Earlier in April Iran conducted a test launch of its Simorgh space vehicle, which analysts believe is a key component of Tehran’s goal of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that is capable of striking the U.S. with a nuclear warhead.

The most critical test of this system will take place shortly after the next U.S. president takes the oath of office, when Iran is scheduled to undertake a “full launch” of the system, according to research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The test is viewed by American analysts and defense experts as another provocation by Iran, which has, of late, tested missile systems, captured and held hostage U.S. sailors and continued its bellicose rhetoric towards the U.S. and Israel. International provisions ostensibly prevent Iran from undertaking ICBM testing but they have done little to deter the Islamic republic’s leaders.

The WFB reported that U.S. intelligence officials believe Iran is working in conjuction with North Korea on ICBM technology, which has also raised even more concerns about illicit trade between the two nations.

“The Simorgh launch [has] been anticipated since February 2016,” says an FDD policy brief. “The head of Iran’s space agency told the media in March that the launch would have three phases: One test launch in spring, another between August and September, and then a full launch February 2017, probably to coincide with the anniversary of the 1979 revolution.”

And that just happens to be very close to a U.S. presidential inauguration as well, other analysts have noted. That will immediately put the new U.S. president in a difficult diplomatic position; a number of Republican frontrunners, including the frontrunner, billionaire Donald Trump, have pledged to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration.

“The full planned launch of the Simorgh space-launch vehicle in February 2017, which coincides with the 1979 revolution, would likely be the next U.S. administration’s first major test with regard to the Islamic Republic,” said Amir Toumaj, an Iran expert at FDD, according to the Free Beacon.

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will face his own elections in June 2017,” Toumaj said. “There may be a temptation to focus U.S. policy on strengthening the hands of Rouhani as if he or elections over time can overcome the state run by the more hardline elements of the regime. The next U.S. president should have a comprehensive Iran policy ready at hand.”

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