Friday, July 8, 2011

Iran Fires Anti-Ship Missiles Near Key Gulf Strait

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on July 6 launched several anti-ship missiles near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the country's Arabic-language television channel Al-Alam reported.

The Guards fired two Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) anti-ship missiles, which Iran says are capable of Mach 3 speed and can hit targets at a distance of 186 miles.

According to Al-Alam, the missiles, which carry a 1,433-pound (650-kilogram) warhead, have been entirely designed and built by the Revolutionary Guards, who are in charge of Iran's missile program and ballistic arsenal.

"The forces also fired a land-to-sea Tondar (Thunder) missile with a range of 62 to 124 miles," the television said.

The Guards launched the missiles on the last day of a 10-day military exercise, codenamed Great Prophet-6, which also included the launch of ballistic missiles with various ranges.

Al-Alam said the July 6 tests occurred near the port city of Bandar Jask in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan off the Indian Ocean, in an area close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The strait is a narrow waterway at the eastern end of the Gulf, through which nearly 40 percent of world's seaborne oil shipments pass.

On Monday, the powerful commander of the Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the Islamic republic would close down the waterway if Iran was threatened by the enemy.

Jafari also said Iran was increasing its naval presence in the Indian Ocean in order to meet a possible threat from international waters.

Since June 28, Iran has fired 14 missiles, including the medium-range Ghadr (Power), short-range Zelzal (Quake), and Shahab 1 and 2.

The Guards carry out such exercises every year, particularly in the Gulf region, and Tehran insists the maneuvers are purely defensive.

Iranian leaders, however, have repeatedly warned the missiles could reach Israeli territory as well as U.S. bases in the Middle East.

Tehran says it has a wide range of missiles in its arsenal, and regularly boasts about developing projectiles with substantial range and capabilities. Western military experts, however, cast doubt over its claims.

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