Early in March Iran tested several ballistic missiles, some with a range of over 1,000 miles. The footage of the missile tests broadcast around the world has tested diplomatic nerves abroad; and political nerves at home.
Abroad, the cry went up that Iran had violated the 2015 nuclear agreement and sanctions should be reimposed. Iran staunchly defended its right to have a non nuclear missile programme, for defence. Diplomats remained undecided whether the tests had actually violated the agreement. Then Russia and China made it clear they would veto any move at the UN to act against Iran. It is extremely unlikely further action will be taken.
At home, the tests have created division. President Rouhani is in favour of interaction, not confrontation with the West for economic reasons: hence the nuclear deal. But the Revolutionary Guards, who report directly to the Supreme Leader, are extremely wary about interaction with the West: hence the testing of the missiles.
Within Iran not all welcomed this provocation to the international community. Akbar Rafsanjani, a former president and architect of the Islamic Republic, criticised the tests when he said that the future of Iran lay in dialogue. But during the celebrations for the anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic (March 30-31) Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, made it clear that dialogue was not enough in diplomacy: behind the diplomacy Iran needs those missiles.
Christians and millions of ordinary Iranians want to get on with their lives in peace with some measure of prosperity. Five years ago there were dark clouds of war over Iran and the economy was in melt down. There has been prayer, and by God’s grace, there are signs that improvement might come.
The missile tests are a reminder that intercession needs to continue.