Iran unveils new ballistic missile in secret ‘underground city’ facility
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Iran unveils new ballistic missile in secret ‘underground city’ facility

IRGC chief say hidden factory proves Western powers can’t stop Tehran’s program; move is latest show of military might marking 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution

A handout photo from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Office shows the new Iranian missile Dezful, in an undisclosed location, Iran, 07 February 2019. (Courtesy)
A handout photo from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Office shows the new Iranian missile Dezful, in an undisclosed location, Iran, 07 February 2019. (Courtesy)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Thursday unveiled a new ballistic missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), their official news agency Sepah News reported.

The move was the latest show of military might by the country as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at a time of heightened tensions with the United States.

The surface-to-surface missile — called Dezful — is an upgrade on the older Zolfaghar model that had a range of 700 kilometers (435 miles), aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said.

The new weapon was revealed after Iran on Saturday said it had successfully tested a new cruise missile named Hoveizeh with a range of 1,350 kilometer.

The unveiling ceremony Thursday was carried out by Revolutionary Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari and Hajizadeh at an “underground ballistic missile production facility,” the report said.

The semi-official Fars news agency, close to the Guard, described the location as an “underground city.”

The facility’s location was not specified and pictures published by Sepah News showed only the two commanders in a room examining the missile.

“Displaying this missile production facility deep underground is an answer to Westerners … who think they can stop us from reaching our goals through sanctions and threats,” Jafari was reported as saying.

“Europeans talk of limiting our defensive capability while they have the audacity (to allow) their offensive power be used to attack innocent people all over the world,” he added.

Hajizadeh said the new missile had a “destructive power” twice that of the Zolfaghar version, which Iran used for the first time in October to strike a jihadist base in Syria.

Zolfaghar missiles, right, are displayed during a rally marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Tehran on June 23, 2017. (AFP/Stringer)

Iran says it has voluntarily limited the range of its missiles to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), but that is still enough to hit its arch-enemy Israel and US bases in the Middle East.

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.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231 — adopted just after the nuclear deal — calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons”.

Tehran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, insists that it sees the missile program as crucial to its defensive posture, and says its existence is non-negotiable. It has also maintained that it never intended to develop nuclear weapons and therefore its missile development does not violate the agreement.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented evidence which he says details Iranian efforts and research programs specifically aimed at producing atomic weapons. In a Mossad operation, Israel last year spirited out a trove of Iranian documentation from Tehran’s nuclear weapons archive, which Netanyahu said proved conclusively that Iran is lying when it says it has not been working toward a nuclear weapons arsenal.

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