Iran test-fires missiles in Strait of Hormuz exercises
The Qader missile, a long-range sea-to-shore missile, was fired during the “power” stage of the maneuvers, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. The test was successful, and the missile hit its intended targets, according to the report.
“A large number of the long-range surface-to-sea Qader missiles have already been delivered to the Iranian Armed Forces,” IRNA said.
A surface-to-surface Nour missile was also successfully tested Monday, according to Iran’s Press TV.
The Nour is an “advanced radar-evading, target-seeking, guided and controlled missile and can easily find its target and destroy it,” IRNA reported, quoting 2nd Adm. Seyed Mahmoud Musavi.
“Iran’s navy test-fired a number of medium-range and long-range missiles in the final stage of the naval drills,” Press TV said.
A short-range Nasr missile would also be test-fired Monday, IRNA said.
Iran began the exercises in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman on December 24, IRNA said. Western diplomats have described the maneuvers as further evidence of Iran’s volatile behavior.
Iran also successfully test-fired a medium-range, surface-to-air and radar-evading Mehrab missile on Sunday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. A submarine also successfully fired torpedoes at mock vessels, according to the report.
Fars added that plans for Monday involve “a new tactic which is designed to prevent any movement in the Strait of Hormuz if the Iranian navy so desires.”
The French Foreign Ministry said Monday the missile tests send a “very bad signal to the international community.”
“We want to underline that the development by Iran of a missile program is a source of great concern to the international community,” the ministry said in a written statement. That’s why Iran is prohibited from “pursuing any activity on ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear (war)head,” per a U.N. Security Council resolution, the statement added.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he believes the Iranian exercises and missile tests reflects “the dire straits of Iran in light of the tightening sanctions around her, including the considerations in the last few days regarding the sanctions of exporting petroleum as well as the possibility of sanctions against the Iranian Central Bank.”
Because of their “dire situation,” Barak said, Iran is “pulling out the envelope of threats in order to deter the world from continuing the sanctions.”
The naval exercises focused attention on the strait — a shipping channel leading in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran on one coast and Oman and the United Arab Emirates on the other. It is strategically important because tankers carrying oil travel through it — some 15 million barrels daily in 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Read why Strait of Hormuz is so important
Islamic Republic News Agency
Iran last week threatened to close the strait over planned sanctions targeting its oil industry and companies that do business with Iran’s Central Bank. The sanctions are intended to force Iran to curtail its nuclear program.
The Obama administration was quick to say any closure would be unacceptable and vowed to keep the strait open. But Iran’s Press TV reported on Saturday the nation has no plans to close the strait.
The French Foreign Ministry statement emphasized the need for the “freedom of navigation” in the strait.
On Sunday, Fars reported that Iran had succeeded in building and testing the country’s first domestically produced nuclear fuel rod. The rod was successfully tested and installed in the core of a research reactor in Tehran, the news agency said, citing the nation’s atomic energy agency website.
Iran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian energy purposes only. But it has rebuffed demands to halt its production of enriched uranium, and a November 8 report by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog found “credible” information that Tehran has carried out work toward nuclear weapons — including tests of possible bomb components.
In December, the United States as well as several other Western and Asian nations announced increased sanctions against Iran in an international effort to tighten the screws around the suspected nuclear weapons program.