This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran has displayed what it described as two new ballistic and cruise missiles, in defiance to U.S. calls that Tehran halt its missile program.
The surface-to-surface ballistic missile has a range of 1,400 kilometers while the cruise missile has a range of more than 1,000 kilometers, Defense Minister Amir Hatami said in a televised speech on August 20.
President Hassan Rohani said on state television that Iran’s “military might and missile programs are defensive” and “do not present a danger to other countries.”
Pictures of the two missiles — named after Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis — were shown on state TV.
Soleimani, a major general who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander, were killed in a U.S. strike in Baghdad airport in January, resulting in a dramatic escalation in tensions between the United States and Iran.
Iranian officials routinely unveil what they describe as technological achievements for the country’s armed forces.
The country’s latest announcement comes as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to formally notify the UN Security Council later in the day that the United States intends to begin the process of restoring UN sanctions on Iran.
The move comes after the Security Council rejected Washington’s bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October under the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
The United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
Washington says it wants Iran to agree to a new pact that would put stricter limits on its nuclear work and curb its missile program.
Iranian officials have rejected talks as long as U.S. sanctions remain in place.