Iran test-fires more missiles in Gulf exercises

Launch of the shore-to-sea Qader missile by Iran's navy in southern Iran on 2 January 2012 The Qader missile can reach targets some 200km away, Iran's military says

Iran says it has successfully test-fired three more missiles on the final day of naval exercises in the Gulf.

State media reported Iran had fired a shore-to-sea Qader cruise missile, a shorter range Nasr and later, a surface-to surface Nour missile.

A medium-range surface-to-air missile was successfully launched on Sunday, Iranian media reported.

Iran has conducted 10 days of exercises near the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's oil passes.

Tehran said on Monday that "mock" exercises on shutting the strait had been carried out, although there was no intention of closing it.

"No order was give for the closure of the Strait of Hormuz. But we are prepared for various scenarios," navy chief Habibollah Sayyari was quoted by state television as saying.

France said it regretted Iran's missile testing, describing it as a "very bad signal sent to the international community".

IRAN'S MISSILE RANGES

  • Shahab-3b: 2,500km
  • Sajjil-1 and 2: 2,000km
  • Shahab-3a: 1,800km
  • Shahab-3: 1,300km
  • Shahab-2: 500km
  • Zelzal: up to 400km
  • Fateh: 170km
  • Tondar: 150km

Sources: GlobalSecurity.org, AFP, Jane's, Arms Control Association

Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Tehran should be reminded of the "freedom of navigation in straits and the need to maintain a favourable climate in respect to this freedom."

The BBC's Iran correspondent James Reynolds says Iran is using the exercises to try to show that it owns the Gulf and has the military capability to defend any threat to its dominance.

But, says our correspondent, few believe Iran would carry out its threat to shut the Strait of Hormuz as to do so would be considered too economically, politically and possibly militarily damaging for Tehran.

Sanctions threat

Iranian commander Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi was quoted by state media as saying that the Qader missile, "built by Iranian experts", was "ultra-modern... with an integrated, ultra-precise radar whose range and intelligent anti-detection system have been improved over previous generations".

He said the anti-ship missile, with a range of some 200km (124 miles), "successfully hit its target and destroyed it".

The Nasr missile, capable of reaching targets up to 35km (22 miles) away, also successfully hit its target, he said.

Later on Monday a medium-range surface-to-surface Nour missile, based on a Chinese design, was also reported to have landed on target.

Cmdr Mousavi had described the Nour as a "super-advanced" in its control and navigation and its pursuit of targets.

Map locator

On Sunday, he said an anti-radar medium-range missile, equipped with the "latest technology" and "intelligent systems", was successfully launched.

The military exercises come at a time of increased tensions between the West and Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Tehran reacted angrily last week to reports that Western nations were planning to impose further sanctions targeting Iran's oil and financial sectors.

Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi on Tuesday threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Gulf and its oil-producing states to the Indian Ocean, although this was later played down by military chiefs.

Our correspondent says Iran is worried about the effect of sanctions, and hopes to show the world that it is still able to build a military force even without help from elsewhere.

The US and its allies believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons - a charge Iran denies.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes. Iran has maintained that it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity to meet growing domestic demand.

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