Iran opened a sabre-rattling show of military might today by firing a long-range weapon said to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads and striking Israel and US forces in the Middle East.
Revolutionary Guards tested a Shahab-3 missile at the start of 10 days of war games in a calculated rebuff to the west. The war games, codenamed Operation Great Prophet 2, were announced in retaliation for US-led manoeuvres earlier this week in the strategically vital Gulf, through which 20% of the worldâs oil passes. In an apparent rehearsal for an anti-Iranian embargo, allied warships practised surveillance of suspected illegal shipments of weapons parts.
Iran denounced the manoeuvres - in which Britain also participated along with France, Italy, Australia and Bahrain - as âadventuristâ. It responded yesterday by announcing a series of exercises in the Gulf, the Sea of Oman and 14 provinces across the country.
The head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, said Iranâs response was not intended to threaten its neighbours but as a powerful signal to its enemies. âWe want to show our deterrent and defensive power to trans-regional enemies, and we hope they will understand the message of the manoeuvres,â he said. âThe first and main goal is to demonstrate the power and national determination to defend the country against possible threat.â
The Shahab-3 missile fired today has an estimated range of 1,240 miles. State television said the exercises also included tests on the shorter-range Shahab-2 to take account of adjustments to install it with cluster warheads and give it the capacity to carry 1,400 bombs.
Solid-fuel Zalzal missiles were also launched, as were guided missiles as well as Scud-B, Zolfaghar-73 and Z-3 weapons.
It is the third set of war games Iranâs military has staged this year as it has stepped up activity in response to escalating tensions over the nuclear crisis. In April, new missiles and torpedoes were tested in what was seen as a display of Iranâs potential to disrupt oil shipments.