The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran on Tuesday unveiled a homemade intermediate-range hypersonic ballistic missile that can fly at a speed of 15 times the speed of sound, raising concerns among Western nations and archenemy Israel about its significant increase in deterrence potential.
"Fattah," which translates as "conqueror" in Persian, was presented at a ceremony that also included President Ebrahim Raisi, the commander of the Guards, General Hossein Salami, and other senior military figures.
Although tensions with the West are high over Tehran's nuclear programme, it is anticipated that a Western and US response will come in response to Iran's advancement.
The new missile's hypersonic capacity received praise from President Raisi, who said it would increase Iran's "power of deterrence" and "provide peace and stability to the countries of the area."
IRNA, the state-run Iranian media outlet, published pictures of the ceremony with commentary.
The Fattah missile is said to travel between 13 and 15 times the speed of sound before striking its target, according to the media.
As with all nuclear warheads, hypersonic missiles can be equipped with nuclear payloads, which is why Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), expressed worry after Iran announced in November that it was developing one.
Grossi continued, however, that he did not perceive the new missile as "having any influence" on talks with Iran on its nuclear programme.
Talks to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement that was unilaterally withdrawn by the US under Donald Trump's administration and subjected to renewed penalties are currently at a standstill.
Since then, Iran has put on hold and is only slowly reversing its decision to implement the stringent restrictions it committed to putting in place on its nuclear operations and IAEA inspections.
Hypersonic warheads, in contrast to conventional ballistic missiles, fly on a low-altitude trajectory, allowing them to reach their targets faster and with a lesser likelihood of being intercepted by contemporary air defences.
When the programme was announced last year, Guards aerospace chief General Amirali Hajizadeh said the system was developed to "counter-air defence shields", adding that “he believed it would take decades before a system capable of intercepting it is developed.”
Iran’s arch-foe, Israel, which is widely believed to have its own undeclared nuclear arsenal, has multiple air defence shields for countering subsonic and supersonic missiles.
North Korea’s test of a hypersonic missile last year sparked concerns about the race to acquire the technology, which is currently led by Russia, followed by China and the US.
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