The debate about the development of Iranian missile capabilities started the very day after the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Iran nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While the United States and the European parties argued that the resolution limited any activity in relation to the development of Iranian ballistic missiles, Iran would invoke Paragraph 3 of the annex B of the resolution, arguing that the restrictions were only on ballistic missiles that were capable of carrying nuclear warheads. This disagreement on interpreting the provisions of the resolution led U.S. President Donald Trump to call the JCPOA a “bad deal” before even entering the While House, and was purportedly one of the reasons why he finally withdrew from it in May 2018. Meanwhile, Iran’s response to the reimposition of sanctions within the framework of the U.S. “maximum pressure campaign” has been that Tehran will not negotiate over its missile capabilities.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is approaching its forty-first anniversary while seeing the United States as its archfoe over all the four past decades. Ideological differences; bitter experiences such as the 1953 Iranian coup d'état led by the United States, which resulted in the overthrow of the first democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosadeq; and the later overthrown Shah’s dependence on the United States have all shaped the mentality of the Iranian policymakers and have persuaded Iran to act against U.S. policies in the Middle East. Forty years of hostile relations between the two countries, as well as the attempt of two most recent U.S. presidents to impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran have brought the Iranian officials to the conclusion that the United States seeks to change the Iranian regime through either a real or a soft war or both.