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AFP
January 17, 2021

Iran test-fires ballistic missiles on targets

World

AFP
January 17, 2021

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards test-fired ballistic missiles against targets in the Indian Ocean as they wrapped up a two-day exercise, their official website reported on Saturday.

The missiles of "various classes" targeted "the enemy’s battleships and destroyed them from 1,800 kilometres (1,125 miles) away," according to the Sepahnews website.

The missiles were fired from central Iran at targets located in the northern Indian Ocean, the Guards said.

A video released by state television showed two missiles being launched and targets being hit at sea.

Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri was present on the second day of the drill, alongside Guards chief Major General Hossein Salami and aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh.

"One of our major goals in defence policies and strategies is to be able to target enemy ships, including aircraft carriers and battleships, using long-range ballistic missiles," Salami said, quoted by Sepahnews. Bagheri said the launch showed Iran was ready to respond to any "ill will" by its enemies, warning that in such cases "they will be targeted and destroyed by our missiles".

"We do not intend to carry out any attack," he said, adding the exercise showed Iran’s readiness to defend itself "with all its strength" against any aggressor.

Dubbed Great Prophet 15, the exercise also featured a drone attack on a missile defence system followed by the launch of a barrage of "new generation" surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.

The war games come at a time of rising tensions with the United States in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration.

It was Iran’s third military exercise in less than two weeks after a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday and Thursday, and an army drone drill on January 5-6.

The exercises started two days after Iran marked the anniversary of the assassination of revered Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January last year.

Meanwhile, European powers on Saturday voiced deep concern over Iran’s plans to produce uranium metal, warning that Tehran has "no credible civilian use" for the element.

"The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications," said the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany in a joint statement.

Iran had signed up to a 15-year ban on "producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys" under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) signed in 2015 with world powers.

"We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPoA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal," said the ministers.

Their call came after Iran told the UN nuclear watchdog on Wednesday that it was advancing research on uranium metal production, saying it is aimed at providing advanced fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.

The landmark 2015 deal agreed between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions has been largely in tatters since President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions.