Iran tests the West's patience with show of might in missile launch

 

Jerusalem

Iran says it has successfully test-fired a medium-range missile close to the strategic Straits of Hormuz, a move that will test Western patience in the stand-off over its nuclear programme.

The surface-to-air missile was fired in international waters during a 10-day military exercise and is designed to elude radar detection and thwart jammers, Iran's state TV said on Sunday, adding that the weapon had been developed by Iranian scientists.

The announcement came a day after Barack Obama signed a law imposing tougher financial sanctions to penalise Iran for its nuclear-research programme. Tehran appeared to be sending the West a clear message that it could follow through on threats to close the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow shipping passage through which one-sixth of the world's oil supply passes, should the West impose sanctions on its energy industry.

Nevertheless, Iranian officials have stressed in recent days that Tehran has no plans to block the waterway right now, a move that analysts say would have a devastating impact on Iran's own economy and invite unwanted military retaliation.

The naval drills coincided with an announcement from Tehran that the country has made a significant advance in its nuclear programme, developing its first nuclear rod, a technological achievement necessary to make nuclear fuel that few believed Iran was capable of. It will play into Western fears that Iran is intent on developing an atomic bomb, a claim that Tehran has denied, insisting that its nuclear programme is peaceful and for civilian use.

Pressure on the West to impose tougher sanctions on Iran in a bid to halt its nuclear programme has increased following a report from the UN nuclear watchdog last November that presented fresh evidence Iran had pursued a nuclear-weapons programme until 2003. The agency was suspicious that some of the work was ongoing.

The EU has been mulling further sanctions, including measures against Iran's oil industry, which could be announced at meeting this month. Washington yesterday imposed new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and financial sector.

Iran, the second-largest oil producer in Opec after Saudi Arabia, relies on oil sales for 80 per cent of its foreign currency earnings.

Last week, Iranian officials promised that the country would not permit "even one drop of oil" to pass through the Straits of Hormuz should the West impose oil sanctions. But Western diplomats viewed the threat as posturing because such a move would almost certainly invite a military response, which Iran is thought to want to avoid.

An Iranian lawmaker reiterated the threat yesterday. "If we feel that the enemies want to prevent our oil exports, definitely we will close the Strait of Hormuz," Ismail Kowsari was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor