The Iranian Defense Ministry has delivered a first unit of a new anti-ship missile to the Iranian navy, state-run media reported.
Called Nasir, the cruise missile and was test fired during the “Valayat 95” Iranian military drills in the Persian Gulf in February 2017.
The report in Press TV on Saturday did not give details of the missile’s range or the size of its warhead saying only that it can be fire from land or ship-based launchers.
Iranian Defense chief Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan claimed the missile opens “a new chapter” in the country’s sophisticated missile technology.
Dehqan touted the missile’s quick targeting ability and said that it has an advanced radar system to counter defensive jamming measures by target ships.
“Equipping the Iranian naval forces with this missile marks an effective step toward increasing the country’s defensive capability and deterrence power,” Dehqan said according to the report.
Since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January, there has been a marked increase in tensions between the the US and Iran.
The US Navy has a large presence in the Persian Gulf, where its Fifth Fleet is headquartered, and Iran has threatened on numerous occasions to attack US ships operating in the area.
“This missile and the other ones in the armed forces’ arsenal only serve the purpose of the country’s defense,” Dehqan added. “It will only hit aggressors and be used to protect the region’s peace, stability and security.”
Cruise missiles — such as the Nasir — are not covered by UN Resolution 2231, which was passed shortly after the nuclear deal with Iran was signed in July 2015 and calls on Tehran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Iran argues that its ballistic missile program is also not covered by the resolution because it does not have a nuclear weapons program.
In January, Iran test-fired a ballistic missile and cruise missile — both of which are nuclear capable — with the former resulting in new US sanctions on a number of entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and a warning from US President Donald Trump that the Islamic Republic had been “put on notice” and that “nothing is off the table” in terms of a military response to perceived Iranian provocations.
Iran claimed another ballistic missile test in March, a week after a US vessel in the Strait of Hormuz was forced to change course after being harassed by Iranian fast boats in the strategic waterway.
Iran has previously harassed US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and around the Strait of Hormuz, with the most notable case being Iran’s capture of 10 US Navy sailors in January 2016, who had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Sea through which a fifth of the world’s oil supply passes.
Agencies contributed to this report.