Scott Ritter: The Missiles of April

The “Missiles of April” represent a sea-change moment in Middle Eastern geopolitics — the establishment of Iranian deterrence that impacts both Israel and the United States.

Iranian missiles passing over Al-Aqsa as IRGC hit Israel with multiple airstrikes on Sunday morning local time. (Unknown/ Commons)

By Scott Ritter

I’ve been writing about Iran for more than two decades. In 2005, I made a trip to Iran to ascertain the “ground truth” about that nation, a truth which I then incorporated into a book, Target Iran, laying out the U.S.-Israeli collaboration to craft a justification for a military attack on Iran designed to bring down its theocratic government.

I followed this book up with another, Dealbreaker, in 2018, which brought this U.S.-Israeli effort up to date.

Back in November 2006, in an address to Columbia University’s School of International Relations, I underscored that the United States would never abandon my “good friend” Israel until, of course, we did. What could precipitate such an action, I asked?

I noted that Israel was a nation drunk of hubris and power, and unless the United States could find a way to remove the keys from the ignition of the bus Israel was navigating toward the abyss, we would not join Israel in its lemming-like suicidal journey.

The next year, in 2007, during an address to the American Jewish Committee, I pointed out that my criticism of Israel (which many in the audience took strong umbrage against) came from a place of concern for Israel’s future.

I underscored the reality that I had spent the better part of a decade trying to protect Israel from Iraqi missiles, both during my service in Desert Storm, where I played a role in the counter-SCUD missile campaign, and as a United Nations weapons inspector, where I worked with Israeli intelligence to make sure Iraq’s SCUD missiles were eliminated.

“The last thing I want to see,” I told the crowd, “is a scenario where Iranian missiles were impacting on the soil of Israel. But unless Israel changes course, this is the inevitable outcome of a policy driven more by arrogance than common sense.”

On Monday night, early Tuesday morning, April 13-14, my concerns were played out live before an international audience — Iranian missiles rained down on Israel, and there was nothing Israel could do to stop them.

As had been the case a little more than 33 years prior, when Iraqi SCUD missiles overcame U.S. and Israeli Patriot missile defenses to strike Israel dozens of times over the course of a month and a half, Iranian missiles, integrated into a plan of attack which was designed to overwhelm Israeli missile defense systems, struck designated targets inside Israel with impunity.

Despite having employed an extensive integrated anti-missile defense system comprised of the so-called “Iron Dome” system, U.S.-made Patriot missile batteries, and the Arrow and David’s Sling missile interceptors, along with U.S., British, and Israeli aircraft, and U.S. and French shipborne anti-missile defenses, well over a dozen Iranian missiles struck heavily-protected Israeli airfields and air defense installations.

The Iranians hit at least two runways, taking them out of service, and at least five warehouse-type structures (this from satellite imagery taken after the attack.)

Iran gave Israel a five-hour advance warning to move high value items (F-35s). Moreover, Iran did not attack barracks, headquarters, or targets that would produce casualties.

The damage may have been minor, but the message is clear — Iran can hit any target it wants to, at any time.

Israel Had Hit Iranian Territory

Iranian consulate in Damascus after it was hit with an Israeli airstrike on April 1. (Unknown/

The Iranian missile attack on Israel did not come out of the blue, so to speak, but rather was retaliation for an April 1 Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate building, in Damascus, Syria, that killed several senior Iranian military commanders.

While Israel has carried out attacks against Iranian personnel inside Syria in the past, the April 1 strike differed by not only killing very senior Iranian personnel, but by striking what was legally speaking sovereign Iranian territory — the Iranian consulate.

From an Iranian perspective, the attack on the consulate was a redline which, if not retaliated against, would erase any notion of deterrence, opening the door for even more brazen Israeli military action, up to and including direct attacks on Iran.

Weighing against retaliation, however, were a complex web of interwoven policy objectives which would probably be mooted by the kind of large-scale conflict between Israel and Iran that could be precipitated by any meaningful Iranian retaliatory strike on Israel.

First and foremost, Iran has been engaged in a strategic policy premised on a pivot away from Europe and the United States, and toward Russia, China, and the Eurasian landmass.

This shift has been driven by Iran’s frustration over the U.S.-driven policy of economic sanctions, and the inability and/or unwillingness on the part of the collective West to find a path forward that would see these sanctions lifted.

The failure of the Iranian nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) to produce the kind of economic opportunities that had been promised at its signing has been a major driver behind this Iranian eastward pivot.

In its stead, Iran has joined both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS forum and has directed its diplomatic energies into seeing Iran thoroughly and productively integrated into both groups.

A general war with Israel would play havoc on these efforts.

Secondly, but no less important in the overall geopolitical equation for Iran, is the ongoing conflict in Gaza. This is a game-changing event, where Israel is facing strategic defeat at the hands of Hamas and its regional allies, including the Iranian-led axis of resistance.

For the first time ever, the issue of Palestinian statehood has been taken up by a global audience.

This cause is further facilitated by the fact that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, formed from a political coalition which is vehemently opposed to any notion of Palestinian statehood, finds itself in danger of collapse as a direct result of the consequences accrued from the Hamas attack of Oct. 7, 2023, and the subsequent failure of Israel to defeat Hamas militarily or politically.

Israel is likewise hampered by the actions of Hezbollah, which has held Israel in check along its northern border with Lebanon, and non-state actors such as the pro-Iranian Iraqi militias and the Houthi of Yemen which have attacked Israel directly and, in the case of the Houthi, indirectly, shutting down critical sea lines of communication which have the result of strangling the Israeli economy.

But it is Israel that has done the most damage to itself, carrying out a genocidal policy of retribution against the civilian population of Gaza. The Israeli actions in Gaza are the living manifestation of the very hubris and power-driven policies I warned about back in 2006-2007.

Then, I said that the U.S. would not be willing to be a passenger in a policy bus driven by Israel that would take us off the cliff of an unwinnable war with Iran.

Through its criminal behavior toward the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, Israel has lost the support of much of the world, putting the United States in a position where it will see its already-tarnished reputation irreparably damaged, at a time when the world is transitioning from a period of American-dominated singularity to a BRICS-driven multipolarity, and the U.S. needs to retain as much clout in the so-called “global south” as possible.

A Sea-Change Moment

Biden with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023. (The White House/Wikimedia Commons) 

The U.S. has tried — unsuccessfully — to take the keys out of the ignition of Netanyahu’s suicide bus ride.

Faced with extreme reticence on the part of the Israeli government when it comes to altering its policy on Hamas and Gaza, the administration of President Joe Biden has begun to distance itself from the policies of Netanyahu and has put Israel on notice that there would be consequences for its refusal to alter its actions in Gaza to take U.S. concerns into account.  

Any Iranian retaliation against Israel would need to navigate these extremely complicated policy waters, enabling Iran to impose a viable deterrence posture designed to prevent future Israeli attacks while making sure that neither its policy objectives regarding a geopolitical pivot to the east, nor the elevation of the cause of Palestinian statehood on the global stage, were sidetracked.

The Iranian attack on Israel appears to have successfully maneuvered through these rocky policy shoals. It did so first and foremost by keeping the United States out of the fight. Yes, the United States participated in the defense of Israel, helping shoot down scores of Iranian drones and missiles.

This engagement was to the benefit of Iran, since it only reinforced the fact that there was no combination of missile defense capability that could, in the end, prevent Iranian missiles from hitting their designated targets.

The targets Iran struck — two air bases in the Negev desert from which aircraft used in the April 1 attack on the Iranian consulate had been launched, along with several Israeli air defense sites — were directly related to the points Iran was trying to make in establishing the scope and scale of its deterrence policy.

First, that the Iranian actions were justified under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter — Iran retaliated against those targets in Israel directly related to the Israeli attack on Iran, and second, that Israeli air defense sites were vulnerable to Iranian attack.

The combined impact of these two factors is that all of Israel was vulnerable to being struck by Iran at any time, and that there was nothing Israel or its allies could do to stop such an attack.

This message resonated not only in the halls of power in Tel Aviv, but also in Washington, DC, where U.S. policy makers were confronted with the uncomfortable truth that if the U.S. were to act in concert with Israel to either participate in or facilitate an Israeli retaliation, then U.S. military facilities throughout the Middle East would be subjected to Iranian attacks that the U.S. would be powerless to stop.

This is why the Iranians placed so much emphasis on keeping the U.S. out of the conflict, and why the Biden administration was so anxious to make sure that both Iran and Israel understood that the U.S. would not participate in any Israeli retaliatory strike against Iran.

The “Missiles of April” represent a sea-change moment in Middle Eastern geopolitics — the establishment of Iranian deterrence that impacts both Israel and the United States.

While emotions in Tel Aviv, especially among the more radical conservatives of the Israeli government, run high, and the threat of an Israeli retaliation against Iran cannot be completely discounted, the fact is the underlying policy objective of Netanyahu over the course of the past 30-plus years, namely to drag the U.S. into a war with Iran, has been put into checkmate by Iran.

Moreover, Iran has been able to accomplish this without either disrupting its strategic pivot to the east or undermining the cause of Palestinian statehood. “Operation True Promise,” as Iran named its retaliatory attack on Israel, will go down in history as one of the most important military victories in the history of modern Iran, keeping in mind that war is but an extension of politics by other means.

The fact that Iran has established a credible deterrence posture without disrupting major policy goals and objectives is the very definition of victory.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

This is from the author’s Substack page.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

40 comments for “Scott Ritter: The Missiles of April

  1. daryl
    April 17, 2024 at 14:33

    Brilliant article, Thanks Scott

  2. Michel Fleur
    April 16, 2024 at 17:45

    I do not want to diminish the severity with which Israel broke international law by its attack on the Iranian consulate building. But there is a factual error that should be corrected.

    According to Vienna, the terrain used for consulate functions, like an embassy, is part of the sovereign territory *of the receiving state* (where it is located) and not of the sending state (the guest). In this case that means that the consulate was on Syrian territory. It is true that Iranian laws are used on the territory and that buildings or areas with a consulate function are protected by diplomatic immunity, see amongst others, article 55.

    Yet, the Israeli attack was a gross violation of international law. First, because it has no business in Syrian airspace or territory. Second, because it’s a murder on Iranian officials: an act of war. Third, because if any of the wrecked buildings also had consulate functions, it’s a breach of diplomatic immunity.

  3. AA from MD
    April 16, 2024 at 09:58

    It seems choreographed. The same when Soleimani was killed and Iran attacked the US installation in Iraq

  4. vinnieoh
    April 16, 2024 at 09:24

    “Iran gave Israel a five-hour advance warning to move high value items (F-35s). Moreover, Iran did not attack barracks, headquarters, or targets that would produce casualties.”

    Many US administration officials are energetically denying that Iran gave advance warning/notice. Who are we to believe, or rather, what proof or evidence can be offered/reported to verify the claim of advance notice?

    I believe Iran wishes to avoid all-out war, and this behavior (advance warning) would not seem out of character in their hazardous traverse of the obstacles they’ve faced since ’79.

  5. bill
    April 16, 2024 at 04:48

    Only by recognising that Israel is in fact a US proxy state/aircraft carrier is how we can discern the US gets its plausible deniability for the war it has long sought with Iran and to disrupt BRICS .Iran has played straight into US hands and naively believes it can get a fair hearing within a newly weaponised Western media. This week Congress will vote through many more $ billions for Israel,Taiwan and Ukraine…this is the US kiss of death as it resists multipolarity by causing chaos where it can with all its might to preserve Empire
    Iran should have stuck to covert retaliation. Id love to be wrong BUT this is so NOT a victory for Iran nor a cause for any celebration.

  6. svay
    April 16, 2024 at 03:43

    If the US wanted ‘to take the keys out of the ignition of Netanyahu’s suicide bus ride’, it could stop sending weapons to Israel, and stop talking of ironclad commitments to Israel’s ‘defence’. I see no sign of either.

  7. April 16, 2024 at 00:03

    Thank You × 100 Scott Ritter, and CN for publishing this informative and timely report. ? The corporate media’s sycophantic stenographers have been very busy parroting an extremely curious narrative, ? one that seems to be targeting an audience that is either willfully uninformed or ideologically ? washed-up.
    And thanks as well for citing your latest book!
    As Usual,

  8. Charles S Ferguson
    April 15, 2024 at 19:56

    Israel has been provoking war with Iran for years. Of course the U. S. is involved. In a murder the one who supplies weapons is implicated in the crime. The monsters in Washington and Tel Aviv want a war and they will have it. What their citizens feel is irrelevant. Only 1% of Iranian drones and other air borne weapons got through is ludicrous, in this so called “unprecedented” attack.

  9. CaseyG
    April 15, 2024 at 17:15

    Considering the history of Iran and the UAS, it was horrifying to learn of what went on back then. America just took over a nation lock, stock and barrel, and threw out their new democracy and brought back an idiot that the USA could easily control. There are things I do not like about Iran, BUT, I can say the same for the US and Israel. Netanyahu will be dead soon, as either his enemies will get him or a lot of other nations in the world will go against him too.

    I hope Biden is smart enough to avoid another disaster, as Israel acts as if they are lords of the universe. The lack of humanity in Israel’s recent decision to murder men, women and OMG children—that is the horror story of
    Israel. A nation that seems to love murderous actions upon many nations—but sorry—it is time —as the saying goes for Israel to be hoisted on is own petard.

    • Robert
      April 17, 2024 at 08:50

      “I hope Biden is smart enough to avoid another disaster”. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had to recover from an involuntary whole body shudder upon reading that sentence.

  10. Antonio Andolini
    April 15, 2024 at 17:08

    The “Missiles of April” that Iran treated Israel to, was a justifiable attack against Israel, unlike the Israeli unprovoked attack on the Iranian consulate. However, though the attack was necessary and reasonable, given the rabid, unhinged behavior of Israel and its enablers, it does, without a doubt, take us one step closer to a far more lethal and wide-ranging conflagration. The danger is palpable! Unfortunately, the human race, collectively, is still quite savage and profoundly lacking in wisdom. Despite the grandiose notions many of us hold about our so-called humanity and its potential…usually as a result of religious indoctrination of one sort or another…collectively, we remain primitive, warlike primates of the worst sort! If you doubt this, take a long, hard look at the world of the 21st century. And, as a result of these illusory, grandiose notions, we are unable to see ourselves as we really are; we are earthbound mammals, instinctually driven, belonging to the primate order of classification, who happen to be a little too intelligent for our own good but, at the same time, not intelligent enough. We are intelligent enough to have wrought the means (nukes) of our own destruction by our own hand…but are we intelligent enough to avoid succumbing to our baser instincts and destroying ourselves and all life on this planet? Only time will tell, but I have my doubts!

  11. Lois Gagnon
    April 15, 2024 at 16:25

    The Israeli population is leaving in droves. Most of them are originally from Europe and the US anyway. They’re not sticking around to find out how this ends. So telling.

  12. bardamu
    April 15, 2024 at 15:36

    I hope Scott Ritter is not underestimating the madness of US command. I suspect that this is not infinite, but I cannot say that I see an easily discernible limit.

  13. Oregoncharles
    April 15, 2024 at 14:00

    We can hope, and we shall see.

  14. robert e williamson jr
    April 15, 2024 at 13:52

    If the Israeli strike Iran again we have all the proof we need, as it we needed more, that the Israelis intentions are perfectly clear. What they want, just as we have all known all along, is a regional conflict and they are well on their way to getting it.

    The Israeli leadership should be very embarrassed, if not for US defense help this thing may have turned out very badly for them.

    Biden has his hands tied until after the November elections, tighten up those seat belts Kiddies.

    Scott Ritter thanks for the update.

    • Richard Romano
      April 15, 2024 at 15:41

      Wait until November then what? BIDEN OR TRUMP.

      • DebsWasRight
        April 16, 2024 at 12:01

        Either one a perfect face to represent our arrogant ignorance, greedy exploitation, destruction, and genocide that we have wrought on the world. They are who we areas a nation.

  15. Redd Jones
    April 15, 2024 at 12:57

    The Democrats are clearly embarked on a world war for the world domination of Wall Street. And have been for some time, going back to at least to Obama. Listen to American policy towards Russia ….”Russia Must be defeated”. Same with China, although sometimes they are willing to only “contain” China. But, these sorts of statements, which are not rare or unusual constantly point to the world war for the world domination of Wall Street. Wall Street must be uber alles.

    The Republicans want the same, mainly with the complaint that they should be the ones in charge of the war, and benefitting a slightly different gang of oligarchs. They pretend a bit to be against the war, but will also feed all money to the military, and want a war with China.

    What the American people think does not matter. What do you think this is, a democracy? We have a government of Wall Street, for Wall Street and by Wall Street, and Wall Street wants world domination.

  16. Horatio
    April 15, 2024 at 12:52

    Fumbling for the keys to this runaway bus will probably be futile. Unfortunately, millions of people are riding in the back of this bus, somewhat like Negroes in the segregationist South. The error was made in 1948 when president Truman recognized a religious sect as a state. The chickens have come home to roost as the saying goes. What to do now? It’s not a Gordian knot as some may think–it requires wisdom which in the present state of American diplomacy is absent.

  17. jamie
    April 15, 2024 at 12:51

    I like Scott Ritter’s different perspective; it brings us closer to reality and to what will happen if Israel today or any day decides to strike back.
    The questions to ask, “is truly the west against escalation?”, “Was US truly unaware of Israeli strike on Iranian consulate?”, “US did not provide intel to Israel for the strike?” I have the impression that none of those are true. Iran is a major supplier of weapons to Russia, so perhaps engaging Iran in a war, might force the Iranian leadership to change strategy and focus first in this war. Can then Russia fight two fronts, Ukraine and help Iran?
    What scares me is how the west has first overestimated its capacity and underestimate the “enemy’s”; first with Russia and now with Iran. Calling a success Israel, with the help of US, UK, France, Jordan and perhaps even Saudi Arabia intervention in taking down 300 drones and missiles (and still missing 3 or 4) is quite overblown.
    Just as the west is testing Iran, the latter has done the same; when Israel will find itself in a full-blown war, things might be quite different and the west might find itself sucked in a war it cannot afford to lose in the middle east, alongside with perhaps major energy disruption that would severely impact European economy, already working beyond capacity…
    This would open a new opportunity for Russia perhaps; it might not get as many weapons from Iran but Europe will become vulnerable like never before.
    At the end nothing can fly endlessly in the sky, sooner or later it must come down, gently or falling from the sky like a rock; it is called gravity and no one can escape it… unless we leave the planet

    • Richard Romano
      April 15, 2024 at 15:48

      A very measured response as always but you must see where we are going-toward WWW III.

      • jamie
        April 16, 2024 at 15:53

        I think WWIII has long started, what we see today in Ukraine, in Israel is outcome of such war (perhaps even the pandemic?); it has been played at economic level already for sometime now, since the time China has turned an economic powerhouse. We must understand this in order to stop it from going any further; if we keep denying we are already in WWIII and wait for the missile to reach our home, then we are suffering from the boiling frog syndrome. Only the people can save themselves and that means going against any government which support war, that means spoke in favor of our “enemies” see the beauty and value of them

  18. Monod -Broca Alain
    April 15, 2024 at 12:34

    Richard L. Romano is right. What you describe, a successfull Iranian attac is not what MSM report. They mention the great number of missiles and drones destroyed and affirm others hit uninteresting targets.
    How can we check the realty of Iran’s success?
    Thank you for your remarks.

    • Stephen Allen
      April 15, 2024 at 15:02

      Didn’t Scott mention in another piece how this was achieved, or maybe it was Larry Johnson? Anyway, the gist is, many of the targets shot down were slow-moving drones, cruise missiles that had dummy warheads that would split from the main rocket, many dummy munitions. That’s why the barrage was timed to coincide with all the arrivals from Iraq, Syria and Yemen. They simply overwhelmed the Air Defence batteries whilst the real shooters (big fast moving ballistic missiles) got through and hit their targets. Military men know of this, politicos and journalists not so much. All you need to do is view the commercial satellite shots showing the damage. I’ve seen such evidence of this damage through various other media. Look around, I’m sure you’ll find them.

    • Nyah
      April 16, 2024 at 03:30

      You have to read news that isn’t in-service to Zionism. For instance, Al-Mayadeen English has reported that Iran hit “Israel” with seven to nine hypersonic missiles, of which no technology exists that can intercept.

      In contrast, for instance, CNN has an agreement w/”Israel” to run everything by their censors before publishing. CNN also fired Marc Lamont Hill a few years ago, for speaking at the UN in favor of the liberation of Palestine (“What he said goes against our organization’s values”).

  19. Jeff Harrison
    April 15, 2024 at 11:32

    Lets hope you’re right, Scott.

  20. April 15, 2024 at 10:28

    Scott writes, ‘But unless Israel changes course, this is the inevitable outcome of a policy driven more by arrogance than common sense’

    I wrote about Israel’s lack of common sense posting this 2 days ago on Israels foolish behaviour on April 1 All Fools Day 2024; title,
    Israel’s April Fools Day.

    • Redd Jones
      April 15, 2024 at 13:14

      Do the leaders of a country, care about the country? Or only about themselves? Are a leader’s decisions indicating the ‘common sense’ of a nation, or just the leader’s own goals? A relevant question across all the capitalist “democracies”, where money can buy anything, including, or perhaps especially, leaders.

      “Don’t follow leaders. Beware of Parking Meters” — Bob Dylan.

  21. gcw919
    April 15, 2024 at 10:03

    Its unfathomable that a small country in the Middle East is able to control so much of American foreign policy. Let’s hope Biden and his handlers wake up in time, or we might see mushroom clouds on the horizon. (Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach” is more relevant now than any time since the Cuban missile crisis).

    • Steve
      April 15, 2024 at 11:14

      All the ‘five eyes’ nations, particularly the USA and UK, are beholden to the Jewish lobby, primarily the Israeli zionist kind. To speak out against Israel, however mildly, is guaranteed to end your career, pronto.
      This is not democracy, and as such I don’t see any policy changes coming out of the USA or elsewhere based on an honest critique of Israels behaviour. Biden, Trump, Sunak, Starmer, etc. are all avowed zionists, with many holding dual nationality. They are incapable of identifying the problems or making the necessary changes. The future is bleak – unless you’re a member of BRICS. Go figure.

      • Pen Pnortney
        April 15, 2024 at 14:54

        Just saw a meme that captures this: “When our politicians make their political decisions based on who’s given them the most money, we don’t have a political system, we have an auction.

        • svay
          April 16, 2024 at 03:34

          Mark Twain put it quite succinctly:
          “We have the best government that money can buy.”

    • April 15, 2024 at 13:10

      This small country has the wealthiest possible patrons.

      If you go back and read the Balfour Declaration that promised a Jewish state in Palestine, it was addressed to “Lord Rothschilds.”

      How many other countries were created on a promise to one person?

      • colodactylon
        April 16, 2024 at 10:59

        Montenegro? Not too long ago.. Same family, too..

    • Redd Jones
      April 15, 2024 at 13:17

      Except Australia has painted a big target on its back, and won’t be a backwater that survives (for a short while) the war. Not exactly sure which beach will be a place to head to, especially since these days they are increasingly under the rising water. But there won’t be any US Navy officers flirting with Aussie girls after this war.

    • Richard Romano
      April 15, 2024 at 16:01

      Unfortunately you are mixing the dog and the tail. USA and Israel are one and the same and we know by their actions what they want. In all our wars we want control.

  22. Richard L Romano
    April 15, 2024 at 09:56

    Is this a hope for a change in policy or is it another major step to WW III?
    See Caitlin Johnstone’s article: hxxps://

  23. Richard L Romano
    April 15, 2024 at 09:39

    Wow this is not what you read in the mainstream media. This, if true, is the beginning of WW III or a complete change in our policy regarding the whole world. Do the citizens of the USA have a choice?

    • Em
      April 15, 2024 at 13:23

      Just as with choosing how they want to be governed, the citizens of the USA have no say!

    • Rob
      April 15, 2024 at 14:27

      Indeed, reading the NYT, one would think that none of the Iranian missiles got through to their targets. Of course, the source of that bit of misinformation is the Israeli government, which, as we all know, spins lies like a spider spins a web.

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