Iran’s Guard fires cruise missiles, drones in major military exercise

Type and range of weapons not specified in report from military-linked media that says five missiles and a number of drones successfully hit their targets

Illustrative: Iran says it successfully tested the Hoveizeh cruise missile on February 2, 2019 (Screen grab via Tasnim)
Illustrative: Illustrative: Iran tests a cruise missile on February 2, 2019 (Screen grab via Tasnim)

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Tuesday fired cruise missiles during a major military exercise across the country’s south, media reported.

The semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to the Guard, did not specify the type and range of the missiles. But it said five cruise missiles and an unspecified number of attack drones successfully hit their targets.

The Guard in the past has said it has cruise missiles with ranges of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). It also has missiles that range up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), more than enough to reach archenemy Israel and US military bases in the region.

The five-day annual exercise that began on Monday came days after the breakup of talks to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iran has accelerated its nuclear advances as negotiations to return to the accord struggle to make headway.

Israel has repeatedly threatened unilateral action against Iran’s nuclear program. As the military exercise kicked off Monday, a top Iranian commander threatened that any Israeli strike will draw an Iranian response that targets all elements of the infrastructure used in the attack, an apparent reference to the range and accuracy of Iran’s missiles.

Last week the Tehran Times, considered a regime mouthpiece, published an op-ed warning Israel against a strike and including a map of Israel dotted with red flags seemingly indicating specific locations that could be targeted.

From time to time, Iran holds military exercises, saying they are aimed at improving the readiness of its forces and testing new weapons.

Last month, Iran’s military began its annual war games in a coastal area of the Gulf of Oman.

In this photo released on May 21, 2021, by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a new Gaza drone is displayed in an undisclosed location in Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)

In 2018, then-US president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal, claiming it was too weak and didn’t address Iran’s missile development, and re-imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since started enriching uranium up to 60% purity — a short technical step from the 90% needed to make an atomic bomb.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful. But the country’s steps away from its obligations under the 2015 accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, have alarmed Israel and other world powers.

The US in October hit Iran’s drone program with sanctions, saying lethal unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had been used to attack US forces and international shipping in the Gulf region. Israel was said to have provided intelligence to the US on the drone program.

A massive attack on the Saudi petroleum company Aramco in 2019 with drones and cruise missiles that accurately hit some infrastructure, though claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen, was believed to have used Iran-made weapons. The Houthis have since claimed responsibility for other similar attacks using missiles and drones.

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