Iran on Wednesday test-fired two ballistic missiles, which an Iranian news agency said had the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on them in Hebrew. An Iranian commander said the test was designed to demonstrate to Israel, whose destruction Iran seeks, that it is within Iranian missile range.
Phrases threatening Israel have been emblazoned on missiles fired before by Iran, but this test came after the country signed a nuclear deal with world powers, including America. Hard-liners in Iran’s military have fired rockets and missiles despite US objections since the deal, as well as shown underground missile bases on state television.
Wednesday’s test of missiles which Iran said had a 2,000-kilometer range, bringing Israel into reach, also appeared to be a show of force by the Islamic Republic timed to coincide with US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel. The regime in Tehran constantly castigates the US for supporting Israel.
There was no immediate reaction from Jerusalem, where Biden was meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly opposed the nuclear deal.
The semiofficial Fars news agency offered pictures Wednesday it said were of the Qadr H missiles being fired. It said they were fired in Iran’s eastern Alborz mountain range to hit a target some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away off Iran’s coast into the Sea of Oman. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols that region, declined to comment on the test.
Its website quoted what it said was Hebrew writing on the missiles, proclaiming, Yisrael Tsricha LeHimachek Me’Al. The words mean “Israel must be wiped out from.” Apparently, Iran’s Hebrew writers intended to complete the phrase with something to the effect of “the face of the Earth,” but messed up their translation.
Fars quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, saying the test was aimed at showing Israel that Iran could hit it.
“The 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime,” Hajizadeh said. “Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to immediately comment. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel in the past, provides support for terrorism against Israel, arms Hezbollah in south Lebanon to fight Israel, and relentlessly advocates for Israel’s demise.
The firing of the Qadr H missiles came after a US State Department spokesman on Tuesday criticized another missile launch, saying America planned to bring it before the United Nations Security Council.
“Yesterday we saw missiles fired from silos and platforms and today the launches are taking place from the heart of our Islamic land,” Hajizadeh said on Wednesday.
“The reason we have designed these missiles with such a range — 2,000 kilometers — is to be able to hit our remote enemies, the Zionist regime,” Tasnim news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying, referring to Israel.
A nuclear deal between Iran and world powers including the US is now underway, negotiated by the administration of moderate President Hassan Rouhani. In the time since the deal, however, hard-liners in Iran’s military have made several shows of strength.
Iran has fired rockets near US warships and flown an unarmed drone over an American aircraft carrier in recent months.
In January, Iran seized 10 US sailors in the Gulf when their two riverine command boats headed from Kuwait to Bahrain ended up in Iranian territorial waters after the crews “misnavigated,” the US military said. The sailors were taken to a small port facility on Farsi Island, held for about 15 hours and released after US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke several times with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.