Tehran unveiled a ballistic missile with a potential 2,000-km range, two days after the Israeli Chief of Staff hinted at the possibility of a “move” to confront “negative developments” in the Iranian nuclear program as it approaches weapons production levels.
State TV broadcast a few seconds of footage of what it said was the launch of an upgraded version of Iran’s Khorramshahr 4 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km and able to carry a 1,500-kg warhead. Iranian media said that the liquid-fuel missile had been named the “Khaibar.”
“Our message to Iran’s enemies is that we will defend the country and its achievements. Our message to our friends is that we want to help regional stability,” Iranian Defense Minister Mohammadreza Ashtiani said.
France on Thursday accused Iran of violating a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal after it carried out the long-range ballistic missile test.
“These activities are all the more worrying in the context of the continuing escalation of Iran’s nuclear program”, French foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre told reporters at a daily briefing.
UN Resolution 2231 calls on Iran not to conduct “any activity” related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The unveiling of the missile came as Iran marks the 41st anniversary of the battle of Khorramshahr, during the early years of the Iran-Iraq war in the eighties.
Fars News, which is affiliated with the IRGC, quoted Ashtiani as saying that one of the prominent characteristics of the missile was its “ability to evade radar detection and penetrate enemy air defense systems, thanks to its low radar signature.”
“This missile has the capability to utilize various warheads for different missions,” he added.
Iran, which has one of the largest missile programs in the Middle East, says that its weapons are capable of reaching Israel and US bases in the region, but that it does not aim to reach a greater range unless ordered by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Despite opposition from the United States and European countries, Tehran has said it will continue to develop its missile program. It insists that its motives are “defensive”, and intended to “deter” the United States, Israel and other potential regional adversaries.
Tehran has threatened several times over the past years to wipe out Israel. Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi said that his country would destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv if Israel launched a military strike against nuclear facilities in Iran.
The new missile test came in the wake of US reports about Iran’s progress in building new sections of the Natanz nuclear facility deep underground, making it immune to US conventional weapons.
A report by The Associated Press said that the regime was building a deep underground nuclear facility near the Zagros Mountains in central Iran, close to the Natanz nuclear site, with experts claiming development “is likely beyond the range of a last-ditch US weapon designed to destroy such sites.”
However, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, denied the reports.
Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi warned Tuesday of potential “negative developments” regarding Iran’s nuclear program that would cause Israel to react.
“Without going into details, there are possible negative developments on the horizon that could prompt action,” he stated.