Iran claims long-range missile test


Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards test-fired several ballistic missiles today, including a long-range variety capable of hitting US bases in the region as well as Israel, Iranian media reported.

The official Iran news agency said the surface-to-surface missiles successfully hit their targets, while semi-official agency Fars said the salvos included the so-called Shahab-3 missile. It quoted a leading officer as saying the missiles travelled distances of up to 800 miles (1,300km).

"So far, we have launched missiles from 300 to 1,300 kilometres in the manoeuvre," said General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Guards' aerospace division. He hinted that some missiles had an even longer range.

Iran has tested a variety of missiles in previous war games, including a Shahab-3 variant with a range of 1,200 miles (2,000km).

Israel is about 600 miles (1,000km) away from Iran's western borders, while the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, some 120 miles (200km) from Iranian shores in the Persian Gulf.

On Sunday, a European Union oil embargo meant to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme came into effect.

The West suspects the Islamic republic wants to build nuclear weapons, and Israel has hinted at an attack if diplomatic efforts and sanctions fail to eliminate what it sees as a direct threat.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, such as power generation and cancer treatment.

The commander quoted by Fars said Iran also plans to use both unmanned and manned bombers in the war games.

He said Iran is testing a variety of other missiles in the exercises, which Tehran says aim to assess the accuracy and effectiveness of its warheads and weapons systems.