August 30, 2022 | Flash Brief

Nuclear Deal with Iran Would Further Empower Hezbollah

August 30, 2022 | Flash Brief

Nuclear Deal with Iran Would Further Empower Hezbollah

Iran would receive up to $275 billion in sanctions relief during the first year of a new nuclear deal and more than $1 trillion by 2030, according to an FDD analysis. If past is prologue, a significant portion of these funds would flow to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. In the year after the implementation of the original 2015 nuclear accord, Iran’s military budget increased by 90 percent, enabling the regime to shower its regional proxies, including Hezbollah, with billions of dollars.

Expert Analysis

“Hezbollah is now assessed to have a military that is on par with several European armies. The group is now also amassing precision-guided munitions with help from Tehran. This will enable Hezbollah to carry out attacks against Israeli critical infrastructure. The group’s next war with Israel will therefore unfortunately be a catastrophic one. The international community has stood by and watched amidst a massive arms build-up. This is a significant threat to the stability of the region.” – Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Back in 2015, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gloated that Iran would use the original deal’s windfall ‘to stand by its allies and friends … more than in any time in the past.’ That is indeed what happened and what will transpire again. Cash from a new deal would quickly move to Hezbollah, enabling the group to increase its arms buildup, especially precision-guided munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles. Hezbollah has already used the latter to threaten Israeli offshore gas rigs.” – Tony Badran, FDD Research Fellow

Hezbollah is the World’s Most Heavily Armed Non-State Actor

Hezbollah possesses military capabilities on par with many professional state armies. It relies heavily on Iranian as well as Russian weapon systems, boasting land, naval, and air capabilities. According to a 2020 State Department report, Iran provides Hezbollah with around $700 million per year. Hezbollah uses much of this money to acquire materiel and deploy forces.

Rocket and Missile Arsenal

Thanks to Iranian support, Hezbollah possesses a vast array of surface-to-surface missiles and rockets, including 45,000 short-range (up to 40 km) rockets and 80,000 medium- and long-range rockets and missiles. Based on these numbers, the Israeli army assesses that in a future war, Hezbollah would launch an average of at least 1,500 rockets per day into Israel. Iran also boasts hundreds of precise missiles that can hit targets within a 10-meter radius from a distance of 200 to 300 km.

Anti-Aircraft Missile Systems

Hezbollah uses a variety of anti-aircraft missile systems, mostly of Russian or Iranian origin. Tehran has also deployed these systems to Syria, where Israel subsequently bombed them. In addition, Hezbollah has numerous anti-aircraft guns such as the Russian ZSU-23, as well as man-portable air-defense systems such as the Russian SA-7, SA-14, SA-16, and SA-18 and the Iranian Misagh-1 and Misagh-2.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Hezbollah has as many as 2,000 drones of local or Iranian origin, which it deploys in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Gaza. The terrorist group uses many of them for reconnaissance, while others carry munitions or a payload of several kilograms of explosives. Earlier this summer, Israel shot down three drones launched by Hezbollah toward one of Israel’s offshore rigs at the Karish gas field.

Naval and Anti-Ship Capabilities

Hezbollah has a naval unit that it tasks with protecting the Lebanese shore. The unit employs elite commandos to attack targets at sea or on the shore. It uses Iranian-made Zulfiqar attack boats and likely has Iranian Ghadir mini-submarines.

Related FDD Analysis


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Iran Sanctions Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Lebanon Nonproliferation Sanctions and Illicit Finance