Iran has reportedly test-fired two ballistic missiles marked with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out”, as US Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel.
So why, and why now? In my opinion, most probably because:
1- The Revolutionary Guards Corp which is in charge of developing and testing such ballistic missiles has just suffered a second set back in Iran. And that set back being the better than expected performance of moderates in Iran’s recent parliamentary and Assembly of Expert elections. The first setback was the nuclear agreement. With these tests the Revolutionary Guards wants to isolate Rouhani who wants to reduce tensions with the West and the Persian Gulf states, in order to attract much needed investment for Iran’s economy.
2- According to various reports, Russia has ‘frozen’ the supply of S-300 missiles to Iran, because Iran transferred other sophisticated Russian weapons to Hezbollah. This is a major setback for Iran and a victory for Israel as the latter has been asking Russia not to transfer these missiles to Iran since 2008. This could explain why the Revolutionary Guards mentioned Israel as the target of the new ballistic missile.
3- The S-300 is mainly a defensive weapon: its an anti-missile and anti-aircraft system. Without the S-300, Iran will feel vulnerable against a possible attack. For years Iran has relied on its missile arsenal not only to threaten other countries, but also as deterrence against a possible attack. Without the S-300, its likely that Iran will rely on its missile arsenal even more.
Iran sees the development of its missile arsenal as its ‘unalienable right’. Israel and the US government see sanctions against a regime which is constantly calling for Israel’s elimination as their ‘unalienable right’. Not to mention a legal right as the tests are against UN resolutions. Little can be done to stop either side.