On Tuesday, CNN reported Iran unveiled a new underground missile bunker and promised to speed up its ballistic missile program. The revelation comes just two months after testing one of the weapons and is considered illegal under international law.
“A show of defiance to the U.S. as it scraps sanctions under the nuclear deal,” correspondent Elise Labott said. “And to Saudi Arabia, where an escalating fight between the two countries threatens to derail U.S. policy throughout the region.”
The bunker adds to the increased tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran after Iran executed a popular Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, as well as 46 other prisoners. After the execution protestors attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The Saudis cut diplomatic relations with Iran over the attack.
Saudi Arabia has suspended all flights to and from Iran and sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council accusing Iranian authorities for not protecting the Saudi embassy. Major powers in the region, such as Russia and China, have begun to choose sides and begins to threaten the United States policy throughout the region. Other countries involved in the region have called for calm.
The test also comes after the United States Treasury Department was scheduled to roll out new missile-related sanctions against Iran. The decision was scrapped at the last minute but the Obama administration plans on implementing the controversial nuclear deal with Iran within the next several weeks.
“If U.S. continues its illegitimate interference with Iran’s right to defend itself, a new program will be devised to enhance missile capabilities,” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said. “We have never negotiated regarding our defense capabilities including our missile program and will not accept any restrictions in this regard.”
Iran has said that its missile program has no correlation to its nuclear program but the nuclear deal extends a ban on the country’s ballistic missile activity for eight years and then the ban expires. The country maintains that the missile bunker is exclusively peaceful.