A senior Iranian official said Tuesday that the range of the country’s land-to-sea ballistic missile has been increased to 700 kilometers (435 miles), the Reuters news agency reported.
“We have managed to make land-to-sea ballistic, not cruise, missiles that can hit any vessel or ship from 700 kilometers,” Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
The announcement comes amid recent tensions over the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-third of the world’s oil supply passes as it travels from the Persian Gulf.
Hajizadeh also claimed that all Iran-produced missiles with a range of 200-2000 kilometers now have precision-striking capability, adding that any missiles produced and stockpiled until now have been modified to the same specification.
Earlier, Defense Minister Amir Hatami dismissed concerns about the country’s defense requirements in light of US sanctions.
“Today, I announce that we are not concerned about the sanctions because we have produced all our defensive needs in all the marine, air and ground sectors,” Hatami said, adding that the armed forces were prepared to meet any threat.
In June, the country’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that Iran has no plan to increase the range of its missiles. The report quoted the chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, as saying, “We have the scientific ability to increase our missile ranges, but it is not our current policy.”
However, Iran unveiled a next-generation short-range ballistic missile in August and vowed to further boost its capabilities, Iranian media said. The new missile’s range was not given, but previous versions had a range of around 200 to 300 kilometers (125-185 miles), according to the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In September, Iran boasted that it possessed hovercraft capable of carrying out the swiftest missile strikes in the world against enemy targets.
In 2017, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered limits on the country’s ballistic missile program to 2,000 kilometers. That range would encompass much of the Middle East, including Israel and American bases in the region. However, such limits come as Iran routinely says its ballistic missile program is only for defensive purposes against regional adversaries.
Although there are no restrictions in place on the range of Iranian missiles, US President Donald Trump had insisted that limitations be placed on Tehran’s missile program as a prerequisite for Washington remaining in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. He ultimately pulled out of it on May 12.
The US and its allies have been demanding that Iran curb its production of ballistic missiles, which can reach parts of Europe and could soon reach the US as well. Western officials have maintained that the only reason Tehran could have for manufacturing such missiles would be to fit them with non-conventional, including atomic, warheads.
Tehran insists that it sees the missile program as crucial to its defensive posture, and says its existence is non-negotiable.
Iranian leaders have previously said they are not working on missiles with a range beyond the Middle East.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which affirmed the Iran nuclear deal, called on Iran to refrain from developing missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Iran has maintained that it never intended to develop nuclear weapons and therefore its missile development doesn’t violate the agreement.
However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented evidence which he says detail Iranian efforts and research programs specifically aimed at producing an atomic weapons.