Iran unveils new missile that puts regional Israeli and US bases within range

Iran has unveiled a new long-range missile capable of hitting its sworn enemy Israel. The weapon is named after a 7th century battle that saw Muslim warriors overrun a Jewish castle in early Islam.

On Wednesday morning, Iranian state television featured the Khaybar Shekan, which is described as a new lightweight, self-propelled, solid-fuel missile with a range of 1,450 km (900 miles) – more than enough to reach Israel since any place. point in western or central Iran.

The announcement came a day after talks resumed in Vienna to salvage Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers.

Iran has previously said its arsenal is capable of reaching Israel – which it warned with missiles fired during military exercises in December – as well as US bases in the region, one of which, in Iraq, which he targeted two years ago.

If its stated specifications are accurate, the missile would represent some kind of technical breakthrough. Until now, Iran’s arsenal of long-range missiles capable of reaching Israel and the wider Middle East have been liquid-fuelled, which means they are less mobile, more vulnerable to air strikes, require a longer preparation time and are generally less accurate.

“This is a self-propelled missile that has Israel’s range,” said an international missile nonproliferation expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of their work.

“It reduces the time you need for preparation; this reduces the amount of equipment needed. With a self-propelled missile, you just press the button, and that’s it.

The name of the missile, which is under the control of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), refers to a 628 battle in which Khaybar, an oasis town on the Arabian Peninsula, was besieged by forces Muslims until the Jews who lived there surrendered and agreed to pay their respects. Shekan means “breaker”.

“The enemies of the revolution and the Islamic Republic pay no attention to anything but the language of force and force,” IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said in a video montage posted online, which showed a missile being fired into the desert. on a soundtrack of heavy-metal music.

Iranians have been hinting for days that a major weapon will be unveiled this week, coinciding with celebrations marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution.

A photo from the official website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shows surface-to-surface missiles on display at an undisclosed location in Iran

(SEPAHNEWS/AFP via Getty)

“The timing of the unveiling of the missile on the 43rd anniversary of the Iranian revolution is in a way a message to Iran’s adversaries,” said Syed Ali Abbas, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Global Defense Insight, a military media outlet based in Islamabad.

“It shows that Iran has come a long way in its indigenous missile program,” he said. The Independent.

The provocative staging comes just as a new round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program begins. It was hinted that they were progressing.

World powers including the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China are in talks with Iran on a formula to resuscitate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ( JCPOA).

This agreement imposed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear technology program in exchange for the lifting of American and international sanctions.

It was sabotaged by Washington under the administration of Donald Trump, which stepped up economic sanctions against Iran in a bid to force it into a deal that would also encompass its missile program.

Instead, Iran has dramatically expanded its nuclear and missile programs. Over the years, Iran has insisted that any discussion of its conventional missile arsenal – which is one of the largest and most diverse in the world – is ruled out.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives for the nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, February 8, 2022

(AP)

“While this will certainly increase tensions in the region, it is also a sign for the parties to the negotiations in Vienna that when Iran says the ballistic missile program is not negotiable, it means what it says. and his actions,” Abbas said.

In reports promulgated by state media and backed by the state, Iranian military officials claimed the missile had “breathtaking” accuracy.

Mr Abbas said it was too early to draw technical observations on the missile. But the range claimed by Iranian officials falls well within the country’s proven capabilities. Iran has already launched airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria and, in January 2020, against a US base in western Iraq.

The video showed the missiles in a storage tunnel, suggesting they are already operational. Their small size means they are easily transportable and could potentially be supplied to Iran’s proxy allies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi militia in Yemen and various militias in Iraq.

Working primarily from North Korean designs, Iran has relentlessly sought to expand its missile program since its 1980s war with Iraq, when major urban centers were bombarded by fighter jets and rockets. Iraqis during what was then described as the “war of the cities”. .

Tensions between Israel and Iran have risen in recent months, although neither country has ever launched a direct attack on the other.

Last month, the Israeli Air Force reportedly staged a war drill involving dozens of planes over the Mediterranean Sea, in what was describe as a simulation of a full-scale attack on Iran.

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