Iran test fires ballistic missiles in show of ‘deterrent power’

Exercise aimed at proving Tehran’s ‘all-out readiness to confront threats,’ state media says; no immediate international or Israeli reaction

Iran's test launch of the Emad long-range ballistic missile on October 11, 2015. (YouTube Screenshot: Press TV)
Iran's test launch of the Emad long-range ballistic missile on October 11, 2015. (YouTube Screenshot: Press TV)

Iran said Tuesday its armed forces had conducted new ballistic missile tests to demonstrate “deterrent power” and the country’s “all-out readiness to confront threats” against its territorial integrity.

The announcement was carried by the official IRNA news agency, describing a military drill in which “ballistic missiles were fired from silos” in different parts of the country.

Israel has pointed to continued ballistic missile tests as proof Tehran plans to continue pursuing a nuclear weapon, despite a landmark deal signed with world powers last year that curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

There was no immediate reaction to the fresh tests from Israel or other countries.

The latest tests, called “The Power of Velayat”, a reference to the religious doctrine of the Islamic republic’s leadership, were undertaken by the Revolutionary Guards and Aerospace Forces, IRNA reported.

Sepah News, the Guards’ official media service, carried a statement confirming the missile tests, which come less than two weeks after elections in Iran delivered gains to politicians aligned with Hassan Rouhani, the country’s moderate president.

The Revolutionary Guards report to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not Rouhani, and their influence dwarfs that of the army and other armed forces.

Washington imposed new sanctions over Iran’s missile program in January, almost immediately after lifting separate sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program under the nuclear deal, following ballistic missile tests carried out in October of the new Emad guided ballistic missile.

Under the nuclear deal, the UN arms embargo on the country continues, as do ballistic missile restrictions.

Following ballistic missile tests in October, Britain, France, Germany and the US all demanded a UN investigation into the launches, and a UN committee later determined they violated a Security Council resolution that prohibits Tehran from launching ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan announced last month mass production of the Emad missile, a medium-range rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, would begin in the near future.

“The Emad missile is not a violation of the nuclear deal or any UN resolution since we will never use a nuclear warhead (on it). It’s an allegation,” Dehghan said.

It was not immediately clear if the tests announced Tuesday were related to the the Emad.

In January, a top Iranian commander said his country was doubling its missile development.

“We doubled our activities and the American demands from Iran had an opposite result,” the country’s Press TV quoted Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ (IRGC) Aerospace Force, as saying.

On January 17, the US announced new penalties related to Iran’s ballistic missile program after the lifting of punishing measures aimed at its atomic activities in the wake of a landmark nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July.

The Treasury Department said that it was imposing the penalties against 11 firms and individuals based in the United Arab Emirates that had helped provide secret materials to Iran to develop their ballistic missile program, against a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Iran denounced the new sanctions as illegitimate.

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