US officials have reportedly said that Iran’s claim it tested a ballistic missile over the weekend that could reach Israel was a lie, and a video of the launch was in fact recycled footage of a previous missile test.
Iran said on Saturday that it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile, in defiance of warnings from Washington that it is ready to ditch a landmark nuclear deal over the issue.
State television carried footage of the launch of the Khoramshahr missile, which was first displayed at a high-profile military parade in Tehran on Friday. It also carried in-flight video from the nose cone.
But according to a Fox News report, two US officials claim that the video was more than seven months old and dated back to a failed launch in late January, which resulted in the missile exploding shortly after lift off.
The Iranian broadcaster gave no date for Saturday’s apparent test, although Tehran officials had said on Friday that it would be tested “soon.”
— Press TV (@PressTV) September 23, 2017
“As long as some speak in the language of threats, the strengthening of the country’s defense capabilities will continue and Iran will not seek permission from any country for producing various kinds of missile,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami said in a statement Saturday.
Revolutionary Guards aerospace chief General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying on Friday, when the missile was unveiled, that “the Khoramshahr missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) and can carry multiple warheads.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a special meeting of his security cabinet on Sunday to discuss the threat posed by the apparent launch after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday called the test a “provocation” to the United States and a threat to the entire free world.
US President Trump initially responded to the reported launch with a tweet claiming that, “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel.”
Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel.They are also working with North Korea.Not much of an agreement we have!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
Trump has threatened to scrap and/or amend the agreement over the issue, saying that Iran’s missile program could give it the technical know-how for a delivery system for a nuclear warhead when a sunset clause in the deal expires in 2025.
He is due to report to Congress on October 15 on whether or not he believes Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal. If he decides that it is not, it could open the way for renewed US sanctions and perhaps the collapse of the agreement. Trump said on Wednesday he had made his decision, but was not yet ready to reveal it.
At the UN last week, Netanyahu harshly condemned the Iran nuclear deal, warning that the accord will pave the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons if it is not scrapped or altered.
After praising Donald Trump’s address earlier in the day from the same podium, in which the US president called the Islamic Republic a “murderous” regime and the nuclear deal an “embarrassment,” Netanyahu said the 2015 accord strengthened Iran’s nuclear program and posed a grave threat to the entire world.
“Imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian Islamist empire, with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth,” Netanyahu said.