A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander has confirmed that Iran’s missile production has increased three-fold, Fars News Agency reported today.
“Our production has increased three-fold compared to the past”, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards’ aerospace division said.
“In the past we had to do a lot of explaining to various bodies for our actions but it’s not like that anymore”, he continued.
The Iranian government agreed to the need for “ground-to-ground” missiles, Hajizadeh said, but did not mention over what period of time missile production levels have increased.
There are concerns that Iran’s covert activities supporting Yemen’s Houthi rebels is fuelling the civil war. The Houthis have controlled large swathes of territory from northern Yemen to the capital Sana’a since late 2014.
A Saudi-led coalition was invited by internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to neutralise the territorial threats through an air war campaign, which has proved indiscriminate amid war crimes allegations levied by human rights groups.
Off the back of this incident, France’s foreign minister ducked questions yesterday on whether arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will come to an end, due to their indiscriminate use in Yemen. Instead he deflected responsibility onto Iran:
“I’m really worried by the situation in Yemen”, Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament’s foreign affairs committee. “It’s an absurd war. It’s true that there are Saudi weapons, but would you believe it there are Iranian weapons too, lots (of them).”
Last month Boris Johnson, UK foreign secretary, called on Iran to stop fuelling the Yemen conflict and to support a political solution. Iran has officially denied supplying the Houthi armed group with weapons capabilities.
In response, Iran slammed France’s accusations over Yemen and claimed that missile production is purely “defensive and deterrent” in nature.
A 329-page United Nations report published last month and submitted to the Security Council warned of “missile remnants” found in Yemen whose origins have been traced back to Iran.
Late last year the US unveiled “evidence” of Iranian weapons used across the Middle East, including in Yemen. The weapons were retrieved by US partners, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of whom support forces in Yemen which stand in opposition to the Houthis and who have been battling against the group since the start of the war in 2014.
France, US and other European allies continue to apply pressure on Iran to rescind its weapons and nuclear proliferation programme.