Iran tests missile and radar systems, defying US sanctions

DUBAI (REUTERS) – Iran is holding a military exercise on Saturday (Feb 4) to test its missile and radar systems, a day after US President Donald Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on Teheran for a recent ballistic missile test.

The United States sanctioned 13 individuals and 12 entities related to Iran’s missile programme and Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn said the United States was putting Iran on notice over its “destabilising activity”.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards website said that the aim of the military exercise in Semnan province was to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions.” 

Iranian state news agencies reported that home-made missile systems, radars, command and control centres, and cyber warfare systems would be tested in the drill.

Although tensions between Washington and Iran have risen, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday he was not considering raising the number of US forces in the Middle East to address Iran’s “misbehaviour” at this time, but warned that the world would not ignore Iranian activities.

Iran has one of the Middle East’s largest missile programmes and held a similar exercise in December to showcase its defence systems, including radars, anti-missile defence units, and short and medium-range missiles.

Teheran confirmed on Wednesday that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile, but said the test did not breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear agreement with world powers or a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.

Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first since Trump entered the White House. Trump said during his election campaign that he would stop Iran’s missile programme.

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday and recommended the missile testing be studied at committee level. The new US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called the test “unacceptable”.

The Security Council resolution was adopted to buttress the deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear activities to allay concerns they could be used to develop atomic bombs, in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

The resolution urged Teheran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Critics say the resolution’s language does not make this obligatory.

Teheran says it has not carried out any work on missiles specifically designed to carry nuclear payloads.