A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran September 27, 2017. Image Credit: Reuters

If the regime in Tehran had its way, it would want the world to believe that it is a peace-loving nation against whom a litany of political wrongs has been committed, and against whom the current leadership in Washington has grievously erred by withdrawing from the international agreement over the nuclear programme and re-imposing sanctions. But that is pure wishful thinking on Tehran’s behalf. The reality is far different — and far more dangerous.

In recent days, a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed that the regime had carried out a test of a new type of ballistic missile. The commander was short on details for there would be few in Iran who would know the real extent of its maleficence and even less who could speak about it. But the utterances did give substance to a report by the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said earlier this month that Iran had test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying multiple warheads and could strike anywhere across the Middle East and parts of Europe.

Clearly, this is a worrying development and causes alarm on several fronts. Firstly, given that the Iranian economy is stretched as a result of the stringencies from both long-standing and recently re-imposed sanctions, the diversion of resources into Iran’s military-industrial nexus has continued to the point where it can develop such technologies. Secondly, the very nature of the weapon itself, deploying multiple warheads from a single launch, represents a dangerous escalation of armaments, posing a serious threat to the nations within range. Thirdly, on the geopolitical front, Iran is sending very mixed messages over its international standing, saying on one hand it is a peace-loving nation while simultaneously developing such offensive weaponry. And lastly, the regime’s record is that it has no moral compunction in deploying these weapons with its militias and minions from the Bab Al Mandab to the Mediterranean.

How quickly the regime in Iran forgets that one of the reasons why US President Donald Trump pulled out of the international accord on Tehran’s nuclear programme was that it was continuing to develop its ballistic missile systems. One need look no farther than at Al Houthi rebels who obtained the logistic capability to launch and fire missiles to target population centres in Saudi Arabia — missiles that carry Iranian stamps on their debris. That’s why Iran must cease and desist now, for it is a clear and present danger.