TEHRAN – Iran launched two new ballistic missiles on Wednesday as part of a military exercise that began Tuesday and the Revolutionary Guards say it is for defensive purposes only. Reports from state media say that The Revolutionary Guards launched the missiles from northern Iran aimed at targets in the south-east. The missiles read in Hebrew: “Israel must be wiped out”, as reported by the Fars news agency, AP said.

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Iran had designed these missiles with a range of 2,000km to be able to attack its enemy from a safer distance. The nearest location in Iran is around 1,000km (621 miles) from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He called Israel “the Zionist regime”, according to the ISNA news agency.

A missile is launched in the Alborz mountain range in Iran on March 9. Credit: Bloomberg

State media reported that the two Qadr H and Qadri F missiles were capable of hitting targets 1,400km (870 miles) away. IRGC said native experts produced the missiles and that the tests were conducted with the main goal of showcasing the nation’s power, according to reports from Iran’s English-language Press TV channel.

U.S. threatened to raise the tests to the UN’s Security Council, but the organism says Iran has not violated any resolution

United Nations officials say the tests had not violated a Security Council resolution, which calls upon Iran not to undertake any work on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran says it does not have nuclear weapons and affirmed it will continue its missile program, claiming its right to do so in spite of the sanctions imposed by the international community.

In January 2016, Washington imposed sanctions against individuals and businesses over another missile test carried out by Iran in October last year, but Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said on state television this week that additional sanctions would mean further development of the missile program to them.

“The missiles fired today [Wednesday] are the results of sanctions. The sanctions helped Iran develop its missile program,” said Brig Gen Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Guards, as quoted by Fars.

IRGC has dozens of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, marking the largest stock in the Middle East, Reuters informed. Any missile of a certain size could be used to carry a nuclear warhead, but Iran insists that its missiles are just intended to be used as a conventional deterrent.

Iran affirms it possesses ballistic missiles with a 2,000km-range that would be able to reach Israel and U.S. military bases in the Middle East.  A U.S. senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Obama administration was aware of the latest tests and that it would take the appropriate response, both unilaterally and at the U.N.

Source: BBC