Iran said it successfully test-fired short-range missiles during military drills on Sunday by the elite Revolutionary Guard, a show of force days after the U.S. warned Tehran over a newly revealed underground nuclear facility it was secretly constructing.
Gen. Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, said Iran also tested a multiple missile launcher for the first time. The official English-language Press TV showed pictures of at least two missiles being fired simultaneously and said they were from Sunday's drill in a central Iran desert. In the clip, men could be heard shouting ``Allahu Akbar'' as the missiles were launched.
``The message of the war game for some arrogant countries which intend to intimidate is that we are able to give a proper, strong answer to their hostility quickly,'' state television quoted Salami as saying. He said the missiles successfully hit their targets.
The powerful Revolutionary Guard controls Iran's missile program.
Mr. Salami said Iran would test medium-range Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 missiles on Sunday night and long-range Shahab-3 missiles on Monday, during the military drill set to last several days.
Mr. Salami said Fateh, Tondar and Zelzal missiles were test fired on Sunday, but did not give specifics on range or other details. All are short-range, surface-to-surface missiles.
He told reporters Iran had reduced the missiles and their ranges and enhanced their speed and precision so they could be used in quick, short-range engagements. He also said they are now able to be launched from positions that are not as easy to hit.
He said the current missile tests and military drills are indications of Iran's resolve to defend its national values and part of a strategy of deterrence and containment of missile threats.
Iran has had the solid-fuel Fateh missile, with a range of 193 kilometres, for several years. Fateh means conqueror in Farsi and Arabic. It also has the solid-fuelled, Chinese-made CSS 8, also called the Tondar 69, according to the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a private group that seeks to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Tondar, which means thunder, has a range of about 150 kilometres.
Iran has previously tested the Zelzal missile, versions of which have ranges of 130-185 miles (210-200 kilometers. In July 2006, Israeli military officials said their jets had destroyed a missile in Lebanon named Zelzal, which they said Hezbollah had received from Iran and could reach Tel Aviv. Zelzal means earthquake.
Iran's last known missile tests were in May when it fired its longest-range solid-fuel missile, Sajjil-2. Tehran said the two-stage surface-to-surface missile has a range of about 1,900 kilometres — capable of striking Israel, U.S. Mideast bases and Europe.