Iran Showcases Ballistic and Cruise Missiles amid Rising U.S. Tensions

This picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, is said to show the launching of the "Martyr Hajj Qassem" missile in an undisclosed location in Iran. Iran unveiled two new missiles on Thursday — National Defense Industry Day in Iran. They …
Iranian Defense Ministry via AP

Iran showcased new surface-to-surface ballistic and cruise missiles on Thursday in a rebuke to the United States, which has demanded the regime halt its weapons program.

According to Defence Minister Amir Hatami, the two missiles both have a range of over 1,000 kilometers and are named after the Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by the United States in a drone strike earlier this year.

“The surface-to-surface missile, called martyr Qassem Soleimani, has a range of 1,400 km, and the cruise missile, called martyr Abu Mahdi, has a range of over 1,000 km,” Hatami declared in a televised speech.

Photos of the missiles were promoted on state TV, which described it as the “newest Iranian cruise missile that will further strengthen Iran’s deterrence power.”

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insisted the missiles were for defensive purposes but praised the efforts of the country’s military in producing a missile with more than three times its former range.

“Missiles and particularly cruise missiles are very important for us … the fact that we have increased the range from 300 to 1,000 in less than two years is a great achievement,” Rouhani said. “Our military might and missile programs are defensive.”

The announcement comes as the Trump administration seeks to extend a U.N.-imposed arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire in October under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), which was agreed by Barack Obama and other world leaders in 2015 with the aim of curbing the country’s nuclear weapons program.

President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 over widespread evidence that Iran was not complying with the agreement and consequently reimposed economic sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

Washington is currently seeking to force Tehran to sign a broader agreement that will force stricter limits on their nuclear and ballistic missile program, as well as putting an end to its numerous regional proxy wars. Iran has refused to enter any negotiations so long as economic sanctions remain in place.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that Trump had ordered him to trigger “snapback”- a return of all American sanctions on Iran after the council rejected Washington’s bid to extend the Iranian arms embargo.

“The prior administration left no doubt that the U.S. has the ability to snap back sanctions on Iran,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s what we intend to do. As President [Donald Trump] said, we will not continue down a path whose predictable end is more violence, terror, and a nuclear-armed Iran.”

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