Iran to fire missiles in desert war games: Guards

AFP , Sunday 1 Jul 2012

Islamic republic prepares to conduct battery of missile tests in three-day training exercise in response to Israeli, US threats of military action

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war in Tehran, 22 September, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

Iran's Revolutionary Guards announced they are to fire ballistic and other missiles at desert targets during three days of war games starting Monday in a warning to threats of military action by Israel and the United States.

"Long-, medium- and short-range surface-to-surface missiles will be fired from different locations in Iran... at replica airbases like those used by out-of-region military forces," the head of the Guards aerospace division in charge of missile systems, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said.

"These manoeuvres send a message to the adventurous nations that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is standing up to bullies alongside the determined and unified Iranian nation, and will decisively respond to any trouble they cause," he was quoted as saying by the Guards' official Sepah News website.

Although Iran frequently holds war games, these exercises appeared to underline Tehran's threat to strike US military bases in neighbouring countries – in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – if it comes under attack by Israel or the United States.

Tel Aviv and Washington have said that military action against Iran remains an option if diplomacy and sanctions fail to convince the Islamic republic to curb its sensitive nuclear programme.

Hajizadeh said the war games, titled Great Prophet 7, would "test the accuracy of missile warheads and systems" by hitting the mock camps in the Kavir Desert in central Iran.

He mentioned two types of ballistic missiles that would be used: the Qiam, which has an estimated range of around 500 kilometres (300 miles), or 750 kilometres according to Iranian media; and the Khalij Fars anti-ship missile, which has a range of 300 kilometres.

Tehran refers to its ballistic missiles as "long-range" although other world militaries qualify them as "short-range".

The longest-range ballistic missile Iran possesses in its arsenal is the medium-range Shahab-3 which, with a range of up to 2,000 kilometres, is capable of hitting Israel. There was no indication in Hajizadeh's remarks that a Shahab-3 would be used in the manoeuvres.

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