This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran has unveiled a next generation short-range ballistic missile and vowed to further boost its capabilities, defying U.S. demands to stop the development of such sophisticated weapons.
Iranian state media reported on August 13 that the new Fateh-e Mobin, or “Bright Conqueror,” missile has “successfully passed its tests” and can strike targets on both land and sea.
“As promised to our dear people, we will not spare any effort to increase the missile capabilities of the country, and we will certainly increase our missile power every day,” Defense Minister Amir Hatami said on state media.
“Nothing can stop this missile because of its high degree of flexibility,” Hatami said, adding that the new version of the Fateh Mobin was “100-percent domestically made…agile, stealth, tactical, [and] precision-guided.”
“Be sure that the greater the pressures and psychological warfare against the great nation of Iran, our will to enhance our defense power in all fields will increase,” he said.
Hatami did not mention the new missile’s range, but previous versions had a range of around 200 to 300 kilometers, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington.
U.S. officials told Fox News last week that a “Fateh-110 missile” was test-fired by Iran during naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz last week.
Sending A Message?
A U.S. general described the exercises as designed to send a message as Washington prepared to impose a first round of sanctions against Iran on August 7 after withdrawing from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in April.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called on Iran to negotiate a new nuclear deal that would entirely rid Iran of nuclear weapons capability and also curb its development of ballistic missiles, which has been a point of contention between Tehran and Washington for years.
Iran’s announcement about the new Fateh missile came on the same day that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei officially rejected Trump’s call for direct talks with Washington over a new nuclear deal. At the same time, Khamenei ruled out getting into a war with the United States.
“Along with sanctions, Americans have recently raised two more options: war and talks,” Khamenei said on state television. “War will not happen and we will not enter talks.”
Khamenei said recent talk out of Washington has “exaggerated the possibility of a war with Iran.”
“We have never started a war, and they will not confront Iran militarily,” he said.
But “America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal is clear proof that America cannot be trusted” to negotiate a new deal, Khamenei said. “I ban holding any talks with America.”
The United States and its European allies have opposed Iran’s missile development program in part because it poses a threat to Westerm allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.
But Iran has insisted that the missiles are only to be used for defensive purposes.