The man who made it possible
As Iran commemorated the ninth martyrdom anniversary of Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, a general known for his studious efforts to develop Iran’s missile program, a defense expert tells the Tehran Times that the general has played a crucial role in establishing deterrence against Iran’s enemies.
Tehrani Moghaddam was born on October 29, 1959, in Tehran. He was admitted to university one year before the 1979 Islamic revolution and when the revolution broke out, he joined anti-Shah protestors while he was 19-year old. During the revolution, he showed interest in making weapons by providing the revolutionaries with grenades he made in secret. On February 11, 1979, Tehrani Moghaddam used his grenades to capture a military vehicle driven by a colonel.
Soon after the victory of the Islamic revolution, Tehrani Moghaddam joined the newly established force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), which was – and still is- tasked with protecting the revolution. He served in many positions within the IRGC. Tehrani Moghaddam was one of the main figures that played a leading role in boosting the IRGC missile and artillery capabilities during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, a role that he continued to play years after the war with Iraq was over. In fact, Tehrani Moghaddam was working to build Iran’s missile capabilities until the last moment of his life.
The general was martyred in a massive explosion at a missile garrison near the capital Tehran on November 12, 2011. Several IRGC officers were also martyred in the Modarres arsenal explosion along with Tehrani Moghaddam. At the time of his martyrdom, Tehrani Moghaddam was preparing a missile test.
He was appointed as the IRGC commander’s missile advisor and the head of the Self-Reliance Organization of the IRGC in mid-December 2006 and continued to hold the position until he was martyred in 2011.
Tehrani Moghaddam is credited with building Iran’s missile capabilities, a move that earned him the title of Father of Iran’s Missile Program. He also established the Lebanese Hezbollah’s missile units during a visit to Lebanon in the 1980s.
Analysts believe that Tehrani Moghaddam has based Iran’s defense strategy on missile capabilities and missile deterrence, a move that effectively removed the military option of the enemies of Iran from the table.
Tehrani Moghaddam established the Iran missile program at a time when the country was involved in the eight-year war with Iraq, according to Mehdi Bakhtiari, a defense expert.
“The Iraqi side has been attacking us while we were unable to respond and had no experience in the missile industry even before the revolution. We obtained a kind of missile capability to deter Iraq from attacking us after Tehrani Moghaddam took action to found the missile program. We stopped Saddam’s missile attacks on Iran thanks to Tehrani Moghaddam,” Bakhtiari told the Tehran Times.
According to the expert, Tehrani Moghaddam continued to boost Iran’s missile program in the years after the Iran-Iraq war.
“Despite all sanctions, Tehrani Moghaddam built missile capabilities that are unique compared to the region’s countries,” asserted Bakhtiari, adding that the West has totally imposed sanctions on Iran’s missile program in such a way that Iran cannot even obtain raw materials.
Iran and the West have been locked in a dispute over at least three main issues for so many years. The missile program of Iran is one of those issues that the West keep pressuring Iran into curbing it. During the nuclear negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA), Western countries parties to the deal were willing to discuss Iran’s missile program and its influence in the region along with the nuclear program but Iran firmly rejected any proposals to start negotiations over the missile program and insisted on separating the nuclear issue from the missile program and the regional influence. Iran’s policy of separating issues that concern the West is rooted in a belief that missiles are the main deterrence against any foreign aggression.
Bakhtiari said Iran’s defense doctrine is based on missile capabilities that were built to a large extent by Tehrani Moghaddam.
“The importance of Tehrani Moghaddam’s missile legacy is reflected in the West’s efforts to constrain Iran’s missile program. Over the past years, the most important issue for the West has been Iran’s missile program. They have imposed sweeping sanctions on this program. The missile issue is so important for the Westerners that they have been so much focused on it,” Bakhtiari said.
He added, “Iran’s missile capabilities are not only shown in military exercises, rather Iran has also used its missiles on the battleground. Iran has launched at least two overseas missile attacks against the terrorists in recent years. In one very important case, Iran attacked an official U.S. military base in Iraq, which was unprecedented in recent times. These attacks show how effective are Iran’s missile capabilities and how they thwarted foreign threats whether during the Iran-Iraq war or in the current time. If the United States commits aggression against Iran, these missile capabilities will deter it. I think the track record of Iran’s missile capabilities is indicative of their importance.”
The expert was referring to the January military showdown between Iran and the U.S. after President Donald Trump authorized a drone strike that assassinated the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani on January 3 near Baghdad’s international airport. The strike was so unexpected that brought Tehran and Washington closer to an all-out war. Iran showered an Iraqi base housing American troops with missiles in response to the assassination of General Soleimani. The missile attack caused brain injury among dozens of American servicemen.
The tit-for-tat strikes came against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, 2018.
After withdrawing from the JCPOA, Trump launched what he called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran in a bid to force it into making a new deal with the White House that would include, in addition to the nuclear issue, the missile program of Iran and its influence in the region.
But Iran strongly rejected U.S. calls for broader negotiations over issues that were not included in the JCPOA. This rejection is deeply rooted in the belief that the missiles are the most important weapon to protect the country from foreign aggression.
Bakhtiari said Tehrani Moghaddam’s efforts were instrumental in this regard. They created such a strong deterrence that made the enemies abandon the military option against Iran. The expert pointed out that the U.S. and Israel were about to wage war against Iran many times but they stopped short of doing so because of Iran’s missile capabilities.
“There are two forms of capabilities: one form is when a country is so powerful that it’s sure that it will win if it goes to war with a certain country. Another form of capability is when a country is so powerful that no countries dare to wage war on it. Military experts believe that the second form is more important,” Bakhtiari pointed out.
According to Bakhtiari, the U.S. and the Zionist regime have threatened to attack Iran and start a war with it.
“But why this war has never happened?” Bakhtiari asked. “It did not happen because of Iran’s missile capabilities.”
The expert underlined that currently Iran’s defense doctrine is based on missile capabilities.
Bakhtiari pointed out that the Americans and Israelis have acknowledged that Iran has mastered advanced missile technology to the extent that they have even admired Iran for its progress in defense capabilities.
The defense expert said these capabilities are entirely the result of Tehrani Moghaddam’s work.
“One of the most important factors that prevents war is these missile capabilities for which Iran is completely indebted to Tehrani Moghaddam. He founded Iran’s missile program and we are currently taking a path that he has set us on.”