Iran test fires long-range missiles in Gulf naval drills

IRAN said yesterday it had successfully test-fired what it described as two long-range missiles, flexing its military muscle in the face of mounting Western pressure over its nuclear programme.

The announcement came at the climax of 10 days of naval exercises in the Gulf, during which Tehran has warned it could shut the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of world oil is shipped, if sanctions were imposed on its crude exports.

Analysts say Iran’s increasingly strident rhetoric, which has pushed oil prices higher, is aimed at sending a message to the West that it should think twice about the economic cost of putting further pressure on Tehran.

“We have successfully test-fired long-range shore-to-sea and surface-to-surface missiles, called Qader (Capable) and Nour (Light) today,” deputy navy commander Mahmoud Mousavi told state television.

Despite his use of the term “long-range”, the semi-official Fars news agency said the Qader’s range was only 200 km, and no figure was given for the Nour. Iran is about 225km at its nearest point from Bahrain, where the US Fifth Fleet is based, and about 1,000km from Israel. Its longest-range missile, the Sajjil-2, has a range of up to 2,400 km.

Iran said it had no intention to close the Strait of Hormuz, but has carried out “mock” exercises on shutting it.