Iran conducts new missile tests defying US sanctions
TEHRAN – Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoIran conducted multiple ballistic missile tests March 8 in what it said was a display of “deterrent power,” defying U.S. sanctions imposed earlier this year aimed at disrupting its missile program.
State media announced that short-, medium- and long-range precision guided missiles were fired from several sites to show the country’s “all-out readiness to confront threats” against its territorial integrity.
Pictures of the launches were broadcast and reports said the armaments used had ranges of 300 kilometers, 500 km, 800 km and 2,000 km.
The United States hit Iran with fresh sanctions on its missile program in January, 24 hours after separate sanctions related to Tehran’s nuclear activities had been lifted under a landmark deal with world powers.
The latest tests, during an exercise named “The Power of Velayat,” a reference to the religious doctrine of the Islamic republic’s leadership, were undertaken by the Revolutionary Guards and its Aerospace wing.
Sepah News, the Guards’ official media service, carried a statement confirming the tests, which come less than two weeks after elections in Iran delivered gains to politicians aligned with Hassan Rouhani, the country’s moderate president.
The Revolutionary Guards report to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not Rouhani, and their influence dwarfs that of the army and other armed forces.
Ballistic missile tests have been seen as a means for Iran’s military to demonstrate that the nuclear deal will have no impact on its plans, which is says are for domestic defense only.
Major General Ali Jafari, the Guards’ top commander, and Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, spoke about the tests on television, with the latter downplaying the effect of U.S. efforts to disrupt its activities.
“Our main enemies, the Americans, who mutter about plans, have activated new missile sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and are seeking to weaken the country’s missile capability,” Hajizadeh said.
“The Guards and other armed forces are defenders of the revolution and the country will not pay a toll to anyone... and will stand against their excessive demands.”
Iran’s ballistic missile program has been contentious since the nuclear deal with the United States and five other powers was struck in Vienna on July 14 last year.
On Oct. 11, 2015, Tehran conducted the first of two ballistic missile tests which angered Washington. State television weeks later aired unprecedented footage of underground missile storage bunkers.