TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has test-fired a new air-to-surface missile, Iranian media reported Sunday, in the Islamic Republic's latest display of its military capability.
"Now these jet fighters have acquired a new capability in confronting threats," the semi-official news agency said. Iran's Press TV initially said a long-range missile had been tested, but later also used Fars' way of describing it. Iran often stages war games or tests weapons to show its determination to counter any attack by foes such as Israel and the United States.
Israel, believed to be the only nuclear-armed Middle East state, has said Iran's nuclear plans threaten its existence and has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end the dispute.
Iran has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway between the Gulf and the Sea of Oman through which about 40 percent of the world's traded oil is shipped.
One Western defense analyst said he believed the missile test was a signal by Iran that "we can severely disrupt traffic" in the Gulf if attacked.
"That's what would be the frightening thing for the West and the Middle East," Andrew Brookes of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London said by phone.
A top Iranian military commander last week said that Iranian missiles could now reach Israeli nuclear sites. Iran has often said it has missiles able to reach the Jewish state but had not previously mentioned such specific targets.