Iran Claims More Success In War Games
Iran Tuesday said it successfully test-fired a
new land-to-sea missile, the latest launch in Gulf war games that have
aroused international concern amid rising tensions over its nuclear
programme. "The medium-range Kowsar missile is capable of combatting
electronic jamming systems and it cannot be thrown off course by any
instruments," state television reported.
Iran also said it successfully tested a "domestically developed" hydroplane with the television showing a small one-pilot craft flying some 10 metres (30 feet) above the surface of the water.
The one-propeller craft "is invisible to radar" and "can carry weapons and aim at various targets while on the move", said Rear Admiral Mohammed Ebrahim Dehqani, spokesman for the manoeuvres codenamed "Holy Prophet".
Shortly after the test, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, warned that Iran was now able to confront any extra-regional invasion and called for foreign troops to leave the region.
"Iran wants peace and security in the Persian Gulf and this cannot be achieved unless foreign forces and those who invaded Iraq leave," Safavi said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.
On Monday, Iran said it had tested a highly destructive torpedo, prompting the US State Department to voice "concern" at a time of high tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The series of armaments tests "demonstrates a weaponization programme by Iran that does nothing to reassure Iran's neighbours or the international community", the State Department deputy spokesman said.
But Adam Ereli told reporters that the United States was still committed to resolving through diplomacy the issue of Iran's uranium enrichment activities -- which Washington believes masks a nuclear weapon programme. Tehran denies the charges.
Iran had warned the West on Monday not to "play with fire" and said the success of the war games demonstrated that it would never back down over its nuclear programme.
Amid the show of force, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki vowed Tuesday Tehran would press on with its nuclear programme despite a call by the UN Security Council to suspend its activities.
"The Islamic republic started its peaceful activities to obtain its rights under the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and these activities will go on under the supervision of the (International Atomic Energy) Agency," he said.
Iran has refused to comply with a Security Council demand to freeze uranium enrichment, defying a warning from major world powers which fear that the Islamic republic secretly wants to develop an atomic bomb.
A non-binding statement approved unanimously by the world body on March 29 gave Iran 30 days to abandon the sensitive nuclear work, but without issuing a threat of sanctions.
Iran has refused to freeze its nuclear research and development -- which includes uranium enrichment -- that it resumed in January, insisting on nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as its right.
Yet Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Aliasghar Soltanieh said the UN watchdog inspectors were due in Tehran Friday to visit the enrichment facilities in Natanz, central Isfahan province.
The torpedo unveiled by Iran on Monday appears to be based on a Soviet and Russian design, the Moscow daily newspaper Izvestia said.
"Based on the technical characteristics and even external look, the new Iranian weapon resembles the rocket-torpedo Shkval, which is considered to hold the world speed record," Izvestia quoted unnamed military experts as saying.
"The rocket would let Tehran block the exit from the Persian Gulf, through which 80 percent of the oil extracted in the region reaches the world market," it said.
The Gulf is a vital corridor for the world's oil supplies.
Thousands of Iranian troops are conducting the war games, which involve the Revolutionary Guards Corps navy and air force, Iran's regular army and navy, the volunteer Basij militia, and the Iranian police.
They kicked off last Friday and are due to run until Thursday.