Iran’s official English-language channel Press TV said the Shahab 3 missile with a range of 1,300 km (800 miles) – able to reach Israel – was tested yesterday along with the shorter-range Shahab 1 and 2. The missiles were fired as part of a large military exercise. Israel is about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away from Iran’s western borders, while the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is some 200km (120 miles) from Iranian shores in the Persian Gulf. Tehran says the drills aim to assess the accuracy and effectiveness of its warheads and weapons systems.
In Washington, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the US remains “deeply concerned” over Iran’s missile development. She said the drills are in violation of a UN Security Council resolution that “prohibits Iran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
In unrelated news, in his first comments since the European Union’s oil ban took force, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admitted that the sanctions recently imposed by the EU and the US were the toughest ever. However, he added that the sanctions would benefit Iran by lessening its dependence on crude exports.
On Monday, a group of Iranian parliamentarians proposed a bill calling to stop oil tankers shipping crude through the Strait of Hormuz to countries that support sanctions against it. However, according to most analysts, the Iranian parliament is relatively weak, which means the proposal has no chance of becoming law unless sanctioned by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The move also seems unlikely in the near term given that Western powers have said they would tolerate no closure of the Straits.