Iran test-fires new missile, says Revolutionary Guard commander

President Hassan Rouhani, seen here with Defence Minister Amir Hatami (third from left), announcing the debut of Iran's air-defence missile system, the Bavar-373, in Teheran last Thursday.
President Hassan Rouhani, seen here with Defence Minister Amir Hatami (third from left), announcing the debut of Iran's air-defence missile system, the Bavar-373, in Teheran last Thursday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GENEVA • Iran has test-fired a new missile, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Major-General Hossein Salami, said yesterday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

"Our country is always the arena for testing a variety of defence and strategic systems and these are non-stop movements towards the growth of our deterrent power," Mr Salami said.

"And yesterday was one of the successful days for this nation." He did not provide any additional information about the missile.

United States President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme last year and stepped up sanctions on Teheran in order to curb its development of ballistic missiles and its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

Since then, the two countries have been exchanging threats and warnings.

Iran has lost billions of dollars in business deals allowed by the deal, as the US reimposed and created sanctions largely blocking Teheran from selling crude oil - a crucial source of hard currency for the Islamic Republic - abroad.

Iran shot down a US military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June, nearly setting off a conflict with the United States. The Islamic Republic says the drone was over its territory, but Washington says it was in international airspace.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani last Thursday debuted an Iran-made air-defence missile system, the Bavar-373.

Meanwhile, an Iranian-flagged oil tanker, pursued by the US amid heightened tensions between Teheran and Washington, changed its listed destination to a port in Turkey yesterday after Greece said that it would not risk its relations with America by aiding it.

The crew of the Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as the Grace 1, updated its listed destination in its Automatic Identification System (AIS) to Mersin, Turkey, a port city in the country's south and home to an oil terminal.

However, mariners can input any destination into the AIS, so Turkey may not be its true destination.

Mersin is some 200km north-west of a refinery in Baniyas, Syria, where the authorities alleged the Adrian Darya had been heading before being seized off Gibraltar early last month.

Iranian state media and officials did not immediately acknowledge the new reported destination of the Adrian Darya, which carries 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil worth some US$130 million (S$180 million).

Neither was there any immediate reaction from Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan deals directly with Teheran and Russia over Syria's long war.

At current speeds, the Adrian Darya is estimated to reach Mersin in about a week.

Iran continues to hold the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which it seized in a commando-style raid on July 19 after the taking of the Adrian Darya. Analysts suggested that the release of the Adrian Darya would see the Stena Impero let go, but that has yet to happen.

The Adrian Darya's detention and later release by Gibraltar have added fuel to the growing tensions between Washington and Teheran.

In US federal court documents, the authorities allege that the vessel's true owner is Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary organisation answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The US declared the Guard a foreign terror organisation in April, giving it legal power to issue a warrant for the vessel's seizure. However, that would require another nation to acknowledge the writ.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to hold the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which it seized in a commando-style raid on July 19 after the taking of the Adrian Darya.

Analysts suggested that the release of the Adrian Darya would see the Stena Impero let go, but that has yet to happen.

REUTERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 25, 2019, with the headline 'Iran test-fires new missile, says Revolutionary Guard commander'. Print Edition | Subscribe