Iran said to test second nuclear-capable missile

Launch reported by Die Welt apparently first voyage for Soumar missile, capable of hitting Israel and not covered by UN resolution

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

The Soumar cruise missile at its unveiling in March 2015. (YouTube screenshot)
The Soumar cruise missile at its unveiling in March 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

Iran reportedly tested a home-made cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead on Sunday, the same day it shot a ballistic missile, drawing furious condemnation from Israel and the United States.

According to a Thursday report by German newspaper Die Welt, the test of the Soumar missile was the first launch of the rocket since its existence was revealed in March 2015.

The report came a day after a top White House official said Iran had been put “on notice” for its launch of a ballistic missile on Sunday, in apparent contravention of a UN Security Council resolution.

The Soumar, with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles), flew 600 kilometers (373 miles) on its maiden voyage, according to the German report.

Iran‘s Soumar cruise missile, unveiled in March 2016. (YouTube screenshot)
Iran‘s Soumar cruise missile, unveiled in March 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

The rocket is reportedly a re-engineered Russian KH-55 cruise missile, which is capable of reaching Israel from Iran, and has the advantage that it can be launched from ships, aircraft and submarines.

The missiles 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.

However, the test is likely to be viewed in Israel and the US as another aggressive maneuver by Tehran to expand its missile program.

On Sunday, lran launched a 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) range ballistic missile that drew immediate concern from the United Nations Security Council and outrage from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Terming the test a “flagrant breach” of UN Security Council resolutions, Netanyahu on Monday demanded the reimposition of sanctions against Iran and said he would discuss with US President Donald Trump a reevaluation of the “entire failed nuclear accord” that the Obama administration and other P5+1 countries agreed with Iran in 2015.

On Wednesday, White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn issued a stern yet ambiguous warning to Iran on Wednesday for testing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and after Iran-supported Houthi rebels attacked a Saudi naval vessel. Taking the podium at a White House press briefing, Flynn read a statement that declared the United States was “officially putting Iran on notice.”

Iranian Soumar cruise missiles on display at their unveiling in March 2016. (YouTube screenshot)
Iranian Soumar cruise missiles on display at their unveiling in March 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

Asked to clarify exactly what that meant, White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not give a detailed explanation, but told reporters the US wanted to send a message that Tehran could not engage in these activities without eliciting an American response.

Trump promised during his election campaign both to “dismantle the disastrous deal” and to “force the Iranians back to the bargaining table to make a much better deal.”

However, on Sunday he told Riyadh he would “vigorously enforce” the agreement.

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