Iran tests two missiles, defying US threats

DUBAI • Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired two ballistic missiles yesterday morning, the Fars and Tasnim news agencies said, defying a threat of new sanctions from the United States.

The launches followed the test-firing of several missiles on Tuesday, which the US State Department said it would raise at the United Nations Security Council. The US legislature also said it would push for more unilateral sanctions.

Two months ago, Washington imposed sanctions against businesses and individuals linked to Iran's missile programme over a test of the medium-range Emad missile carried out last October.

The two Qadr H missiles fired from northern Iran yesterday hit targets in the south-east of the country, the agencies said.

"The missiles fired today are the results of sanctions. The sanctions helped Iran develop its missile programme," Brigadier-General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the IRGC, was quoted as saying by Fars.

The IRGC's missile battery commander said Iran's medium-range ballistic missiles are designed to be able to hit Israel. "The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000km is to be able to hit our enemy, the Zionist regime, from a safe distance," Brig-Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the Isna agency.

The IRGC, a powerful force that reports directly to the supreme leader, is deeply suspicious of the United States and its allies. It maintains dozens of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, the largest stockpile in the Middle East.

Washington fears those missiles could be used to carry a nuclear warhead, even after Iran implemented a nuclear deal with world powers in January that imposes strict limits and checks on its disputed nuclear programme.

Washington said the fresh missile tests would not violate the Iran nuclear deal itself, under which Teheran would receive relief from economic sanctions. Iran's missile programme is subject to a UN Security Council resolution that calls on the Islamic Republic not to develop missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Iran says its missiles are solely a conventional deterrent. Its most advanced missiles have a range of around 2,993km, but they have also been used to send satellites into orbit.

REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2016, with the headline 'Iran tests two missiles, defying US threats'. Print Edition | Subscribe