Iran test-fires ballistic missiles on targets at sea

Published January 17, 2021
A launch of missiles during a military drill in an unknown location in central Iran on Saturday. — AFP
A launch of missiles during a military drill in an unknown location in central Iran on Saturday. — AFP

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards test-fired ballistic missiles against targets in the Indian Ocean as they wrapped up a two-day exercise, their official website reported on Saturday.

The missiles of “various classes” targeted “the enemy’s battleships and destroyed them from 1,800 kilometres (1,125 miles) away,” according to the Sepahnews website.

The missiles were fired from central Iran at targets located in the northern Indian Ocean, the Guards said.

A video released by state television showed two missiles being launched and targets being hit at sea.

Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri was present on the second day of the drill, alongside Guards chief Major General Hossein Salami and aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh.

“One of our major goals in defence policies and strategies is to be able to target enemy ships, including aircraft carriers and battleships, using long-range ballistic missiles,” Salami said, quoted by Sepahnews.

Bagheri said the launch showed Iran was ready to respond to any “ill will” by its enemies, warning that in such cases “they will be targeted and destroyed by our missiles”.

“We do not intend to carry out any attack,” he said, adding the exercise showed Iran’s readiness to defend itself “with all its strength” against any aggressor.

Dubbed Great Prophet 15, the exercise also featured a drone attack on a missile defence system followed by the launch of a barrage of “new generation” surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.

The war games come at a time of rising tensions with the United States in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration.

It was Iran’s third military exercise in less than two weeks after a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday and Thursday, and an army drone drill on January 5-6.

The exercises started two days after Iran marked the anniversary of the assassination of revered Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January last year.Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased amid a series of incidents stemming from President Donald Trumps unilateral withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Amid Trump’s final days as president, Tehran has recently seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the US has sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region.

In recent weeks, Iran has increased its military drills as the country tries to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear accord, which he has said America could reenter.

Iran has missile capability of up to 2,000 kilometres, far enough to reach archenemy Israel and US military bases in the region. Last January, after the US killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran retaliated by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops, resulting in brain concussion injuries to dozens of them.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2021

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