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August 4, 2006
Iran Defies ... Well, Everyone

We have known for years that Iran has funded and sheltered Hezbollah, along with Syria, in an effort to undermine Israel's security. Up to today, Teheran couched that assistance in humanitarian terms, arguing that it wanted to promote the social activities of Hezbollah and its spiritual jihadism. According to Jane's, a respected military publication, Iran will send arms to the non-state militia:

Iran will supply Hezbollah with surface-to-air missile systems in the coming months, boosting the guerrillas' defences against Israeli aircraft, according to a report by specialist magazine Jane's Defence Weekly, citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources.

In a meeting, held late last month, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia called on Tehran to "accelerate and extend the scope of weapon shipments from Iran to the Islamic Resistance, particularly advanced missiles against ground and air targets."

Hezbollah's representatives pressed for "an array of more advanced weaponry, including more advanced SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems," Jane's said Friday.

"Iranian authorities conveyed a message to the Hezbollah leadership that their forces would continue to receive a steady supply of weapons systems,"it added.

Iran obviously will not announce this themselves, but Jane's has been a reliable source of military information. If true, it just underscores what we already know about Iran and Hezbollah. The Iranians have not been all that covert about their political support for the terrorist group, and arming them should surprise no one.

However, if one of those missiles ever take out an Israeli aircraft, the Iranians will make themselves an open target for retaliation. Whether Israel decides to act on that will be the question.

UPDATE: Not that Iran is bothering to hide it:

A senior Iranian official admitted for the first time Friday that Tehran did indeed supply long-range Zelzal-2 missiles to Hezbollah.

Mohtashami Pur, a one-time ambassador to Lebanon who currently holds the title of secretary-general of the "Intifada conference," told an Iranian newspaper that Iran transferred the missiles to the Shi'ite militia, adding that the organization has his country's blessing to use the weapons in defense of Lebanon.

Pur's statements are thought to be unusual given that Tehran has thus far been reluctant to comment on the extent of its aid which it has extended to Hezbollah.

For a nation to openly admit arming non-state actors should result in heavy sanctions in the UN, if the UN had any worth. This goes against the very notion of sovereignty and undermines the Westphalian concept of nationhood.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 4, 2006 6:24 PM

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