Rare footage has revealed the inside of an underground nuclear missile site in Iran, showing rows of missiles said to be “ready to launch” at any time.
It was aired on state television as a senior council of Iranian clerics and lawyers approved implementing the landmark nuclear deal with world powers.
The location of the base was not disclosed but the aerospace commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said it was said it was 500 metres underground.
“It is an iceberg floating around that only has its tip out of the water,” said Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “We have so many bases that (our enemies) cannot confront those bases, no matter how many bases they identify.”
He was seen shaking hands with lines of soldiers, dressed in full uniform and sunglasses, during a tour of the cavernous tunnels.
The footage, carried by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, showed lines of nuclear missiles loaded on to launchers, each manned by a group of soldiers.
Some of the weapons had posters draped on the side, with the face of Iran’s Supreme Leader and top Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Khamenei, staring down from one.
He is also the commander-in-chief of the Iranian Armed Forces and Brig Gen Hajizadeh said the warheads could be fired on his orders.
“The missiles in various ranges are mounted on the launchers in all bases and ready to be launched,” he said, warning that they will be used if “enemies make a mistake”, in comments reported by state-owned Press TV.
“As of next year, a new and advanced generation of long-range liquid and solid fuel missiles will replace the current products,” the commander added.
The tour followed an announcement about a new torpedo and the firing of a new ballistic missile on Sunday, which the US said it would raise as a concern with the UN.
The developments failed to set back the approval of the nuclear deal but are likely to cause disquiet over Iran’s commitment to limiting its capabilities, allowing international inspections and not producing or deploying its own nuclear weapons.
The Guardian Council's support of Iran’s nuclear deal was a major victory for President Hassan Rouhani, who has worked to ease tensions with the West, but the Revolutionary Guards’ show of strength was a reminder that many hardliners do not seek reconciliation.
“Those who pin their hopes on options on the table, should only have a look at the options of the Islamic [Republic's] forces under the table,” Brig Gen Hajizadeh said.
Press TV reported the Iranian government’s repeated assertions that its military “might” poses no threat to other countries and is centred on deterrence and defence.
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