INTERNATIONAL

We will paralyse Persian Gulf if attacked: Iran

Atul Aneja

Missiles can now target Israel, U.S. bases

DUBAI: Iran has test-fired the 2,000-km-range Shahab-3 missile as part of tri-service manoeuvres being conducted near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

The exercise followed military drills conducted by Israel last month to finetune ways to target Iran’s atomic installations.

Iran’s Press TV said nine highly-advanced missiles were tested during the Prophet-III exercise. The Zelzal and Fateh missiles, with a range of 170-400 km, were also fired during the exercise, which began on Tuesday.

The Shahab-3 variant that has been tested can carry a 1-tonne warhead and can target Israel, U.S. bases in the Gulf, and has the range to reach parts of Europe. Iran had in November 2006 test-fired a 2,000-km-range Shahab-3 variant, equipped with a cluster bomb warhead.

The exercise was conducted after more that 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets participated in military manoeuvres in June. The planes flew more than 1,440 km, which is roughly the distance between Israel and Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant.

The Israeli exercise had prompted International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed El-Baradei to say he would resign if Iran was subjected to a military strike.

First targets

On Tuesday, Ali Shirazi, representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said if attacked by the U.S. and Israel, Iran would first target Israel and U.S. ships in the Gulf. He pointed out that the Israeli government was pressuring the U.S. to target Iran.

“If they commit such a stupidity, Tel Aviv and U.S. shipping in the Persian Gulf will be Iran’s first targets and they will be burned,” the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted him as saying.

Iran had earlier said it would block shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, if attacked. The bulk of the Gulf’s oil exports pass through this channel.

Tensions in the Gulf have increased, as an Anglo-American exercise, having a Bahraini component, has also been launched. The drill is meant to rehearse ways to protect oil installations in the Gulf against a possible Iranian attack.

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