A day after apparently scrubbing the test launch of a Safir missile, viewed by analysts as a test vehicle for intercontinental ballistic missile technology, Iran launched a short-range surface-to-air rocket from the same Semnan facility.
According to Fox News, the missile launched on Wednesday was a “short-range Mersad surface-to-air missile, which impacted 35 miles away.”
The Times of Israel sees the Mersad launch as a gesture of defiance, against both the Trump administration’s warnings to desist from missile research and the possible designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. If so, it is an intriguingly nuanced gesture, since the Mersad air-defense system seems much less problematic than the scuttled Safir launch would have been.
PressTV quotes Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan claiming reports of the Mersad missile test are “fabricated” by “the Zionist regime” and was “aimed at inciting animosity, psychological war, and Iranophobia.” Dehqan continued:
First of all, these claims are fabricated, and such an incident has not happened at all. Secondly, it would be absolutely none of their business if such a test had ever been conducted. Thirdly, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile program is a conventional program, and its missile tests are conducted as part of pre-planned programs aimed at maintaining our country’s defense preparedness.
After delivering that confusing string of denials, Dehqan went on to advise other Persian Gulf nations “not to be deceived by such propaganda because the Islamic Republic of Iran has never been and will never be a threat to them.” He also said America launched its “psychological war” as part of a marketing campaign to “sell their weapons.”