Terror-linked Iranian Guard holds anti-warship ballistic missile drill

Footage showed two missiles smash into a target that Iranian state television described as “hypothetical hostile enemy ships” at a distance of 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles).

By Associated Press

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill Saturday launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Footage showed two missiles smash into a target that Iranian state television described as “hypothetical hostile enemy ships” at a distance of 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles). The report did not specify the type of missiles used.

In the first phase of the drill Friday, the Guard’s aerospace division launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against “hypothetical enemy bases.” Iranian state television described the drill as taking place in the country’s vast central desert, the latest in a series of snap exercises called amid the escalating tensions over its nuclear program.

Footage also showed four unmanned, triangle-shaped drones flying in a tight formation, smashing into targets and exploding.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased as Iran continues to violate the 2015 nuclear deal and bankrolls and trains terror proxies across the region, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis.

Amid President Donald Trump’s final days as president, Tehran has also seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the U.S. has sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region.

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In recent weeks, Iran has increased its military drills as the country tries to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear accord, which he has said America could reenter, despite warnings from America’s allies in the region, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Iran fired cruise missiles Thursday as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman, state media reported, under surveillance of what appeared to be a U.S. nuclear submarine. Iran’s navy did not identify the submarine at the time, but on Saturday, a news website affiliated with state television said the vessel was American.

Helicopter footage of the exercise released Thursday by Iran’s navy showed what resembled an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, the USS Georgia, which the U.S. Navy last month said had been sent to the Persian Gulf.

Iran has missile capability of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), far enough to reach Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. Last January, after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran retaliated by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, resulting in brain concussion injuries to dozens of them.

Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal due to its role as the primary destabilizing force in the region, its support for terror groups, and its ballistic missile program.

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In 2018, Israel presented credible evidence to the world that Iran never abandoned its nuclear weapons program, an accusation that appeared borne out by Iran’s announcement this week that it is producing uranium metal.

Great Britain, France, and Germany condemned that move, announcing that there was “no credible civilian use” for the material.