The Revolutionary Guards on Sunday accused “enemies” of Iran of trying to sabotage the country’s missiles so that they would “explode mid-air” but said the bid was foiled.
“They tried as best as they could to sabotage a small part which we import so that our missiles would not reach their target and explode mid-air,” Fars news agency reported, quoting the Guards’ aerospace commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh.
“But they couldn’t do a damn thing because we had seen this coming from the start and had reinforced this sector,” he added, accusing Iran’s “enemies” of sabotage without naming any specific country.
Iran reined in most of its nuclear programme under a landmark 2015 deal with major powers in return for sanctions relief, but has continued to develop its ballistic missile technology.
Earlier this month the New York Times (NYT) reported that a secret US programme to “sabotage Iran’s missile’s and rockets” had been in existence for years, and was being “accelerated” by the current administration.
It chronicled efforts begun under US President George W Bush to insert faulty parts into Iran’s missile supply chains in an effort to undermine launches and aerospace development.
Failure to launch
It said there was no way to gauge success of the US programme, but cited two recent Iranian rocket failures, one on January 15, and a second unacknowledged one Feb 5, and a 67 percent failure rates over 11 years, compared to a five percent orbital launch failure rate worldwide.
While there are multiple factors that can contribute to launch failure, the US learned at least one faulty part it had planted had made its way into Iranian rockets, when officials found it in an Iranian-made missile that landed but failed to detonate in Baghdad, the NYT reported.
The US has made no secret of its intention to thwart Iran’s missile programme.
In December US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked the UN Security Council to ban Iran from ballistic missile testing. The following month he threatened “deeper economic and diplomatic isolation” if Iran continued test firing rockets.
“The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place international stability and security at risk,” Pompeo said in a statement.
In May, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
UN Security Council Resolution 2231 — adopted just after the nuclear deal — calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons”.
Tehran insists that its missile programme is “purely defensive” and compliant with the resolution but it has developed medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching arch-foe Israel.
Hajizadeh, whose remarks were also reported by Tasnim news agency, said similar sabotage attempts had happened before and targeted Iran’s nuclear and oil sectors.