ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Iran targets ships in ballistic missile tests — report

One of two Fateh-110 rockets with seaborne ‘seeker’ system launched over weekend said to have successfully struck target barge

Illustrative: A Fateh-110 ballistic missile, displayed at an Iranian armed forces parade in 2012. (military.ir/Wikimedia Commons)
Illustrative: A Fateh-110 ballistic missile, displayed at an Iranian armed forces parade in 2012. (military.ir/Wikimedia Commons)

Iran test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles over the weekend, Fox News reported Monday, carrying out drills that the US and Israel maintain are banned by the UN.

According to US officials who spoke with Fox, Iran fired two short-range Fateh-110 missiles in successive tests, outfitting them with a guiding system meant to target boats.

One of the two Fateh-110 short range ballistic missiles tested successfully struck a barge floating in the Persian Gulf some 155 miles from the launch site at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base at Bandar-e-Jask in southeastern Iran on Sunday.

Although the other missile did not hit its intended target when fired a day earlier, it was said to have been “in the vicinity.”

One of the officials who spoke with Fox said that the Fateh-110 Mod 3 missiles that were launched were equipped with an “active seeker,” which allows for improved targeting of seaborne vessels.

The missiles have a range of about 250 kilometers (155 miles), meaning they could not reach Israel from Iran. However, Syria and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah are thought to posses the missiles or modified versions of them. Iran has also hinted that it may have given technology to build the missiles to the Hamas terror group in Gaza as well.

Israel has raised concerns in recent years of missile strikes on offshore gas facilities being set up in the Mediterranean.

Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, ‘Israel must be wiped out.’ (Fars News)

One official described the tests as “a concern based on the range and that one of the missiles worked.”

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.

The report said it was not clear if the test was Iran’s first successful launch of the missile at sea.

The first launch came on the same day that a US vessel in the Strait of Hormuz was forced to change course after being harassed by Iranian fast boats in the strategic waterway.

The harassed boat — the USNS Invincible — is a tracking ship, designed to track ballistic missile launches. It was not immediately clear if the ship was purposefully targeted by the IRGC vessels in connection to the ballistic missile tests.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak “about the dangers posed by the nuclear deal with Iran and by Iran’s malevolent behavior in the region and about the need to work together to counter those dangers,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

After Iran test-fired a ballistic missile in January, the US imposed sanctions on a number of entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and US President Donald Trump warned the Islamic Republic it had been “put on notice.”

Although Iran maintains that the testing of ballistic missiles is not banned by the 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the US said that the sanctions were imposed for Iran’s violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2331, which calls upon Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Since January’s test-firing of a ballistic missile, Iran has carried out a number of other tests of cruise and submarine-based missiles, while on Saturday state television said Iran successfully tested the S-300 missile defense system delivered to it by Russia following the 2015 nuclear deal after years of delay.

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