Iran says it fired 16 ballistic missiles during annual drill

AP , Friday 24 Dec 2021

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard fired more than a dozen surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, the official IRNA news agency reported on Friday.

Iran says it fired 16 ballistic missiles during annual drill. AFP

The report said the Guard fired 16 missiles during an ongoing major military exercise across the country's south. It said the name of missiles were Emad, Ghadr, Sejjil, Zalzal, Dezful and Zolfaghar and that their range is from 350 to 2000 kilometers (220 to 1250 miles). The short-range and medium-range missiles, Iran has said, can reach U.S. bases in the region as well as archenemy Israel.

It said the missiles successfully hit one target at the same time as 10 drones simultaneously hit their targets. State TV showed missiles launching in the desert.

Iran had displayed and test fired the missiles in the past.

Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran's Armed Forces, said the planned drill was an answer to Israel's recent ``massive but pointless threats'' to Iran.

Bagheri said, ``This was a tiny part of hundreds of missiles that can hit any hostile target simultaneously.''

Israel has long seen Iran's nuclear program as a threat and seeks a harder line by the U.S. and international community. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

During the second day of the drill on Tuesday, Iran launched cruise missiles, too.

The Guard in the past has said it has cruise missiles with ranges of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). It also has missiles that range up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles).

From time to time, Iran holds military exercises, saying they are aimed at improving the readiness of its forces and testing new weapons.

The five-day annual exercise that began on Monday came days after the breakup of talks to revive Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. Iran has accelerated its nuclear advances as negotiations to return to the accord struggle to make headway. The talks will resume on Monday.

Former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal and re-imposed crushing sanctions on Iran in 2018 . Tehran has since started enriching uranium up to 60% purity - a short technical step from the 90% needed to make an atomic bomb.

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