Iran defies sanctions with missile tests

TEHERAN • Iran conducted multiple ballistic missile tests yesterday in what it called a display of "deterrent power", defying US sanctions imposed earlier this year and aimed at disrupting its missile programme.

State media said 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 300km, 500km, 800km and 2,000km.

The United States hit Iran with fresh sanctions on its missile programme in January, 24 hours after separate sanctions linked to its nuclear activities were lifted under a landmark deal with world powers.

Ballistic missile tests have been seen as a means for Iran's military to show that the nuclear deal will have no impact on its plans, which it says are for domestic defence only.

Major-General Ali Jafari, chief of the Revolutionary Guards, and Brigadier-General Amir Ali Hajizadeh spoke of the tests on television, with the latter downplaying the effect of US efforts to disrupt its activities.

A United Nations panel said in December the tests breached previous resolutions aimed at stopping Iran from developing missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Iran denies seeking an atomic weapon and says its missiles would never be designed to, nor ever, carry the bomb.

The nuclear deal was heralded by moderates such as President Hassan Rouhani, who staked his reputation on the talks, but hardliners in Iran said it damaged national interests.

The White House first threatened to impose the measures in December but withdrew them after Mr Rouhani hit out at both their timing and intent. Missiles were not part of the nuclear agreement.

Asked before the missile sanctions were announced about how Iran would react to fresh measures against it, Mr Rouhani said: "Any action will be met by a reaction."

Those measures came after four Iranian-Americans left Teheran after their release in a prisoner swop with the US. The exchange was on the same day the nuclear deal came into force.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Iran defies sanctions with missile tests'. Print Edition | Subscribe