Iran Unveils New Ballistic Missile at Underground Facility
(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued Feb 08, 2019)
Unveiling the new missile appears to be a direct challenge to Western criticism of Iran's ballistic missile program. Iran says its ballistic missiles are a defense deterrent that are not negotiable.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard unveiled on Thursday a new surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles), according to the elite force's Sepah News.

The move was the latest show of military strength and defiance amid heightened tension with US and European demands for Iran halt missile development and tests.

The surface-to-surface missile was unveiled by Guard Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari and aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh.

The new missile, called Dezful, is an upgrade with twice the "destructive power" of the older Zolfaghar model that had a range of 700 kilometers, Hajizadeh said.

Fars News released a video of the two commanders examining them at an "underground" ballistic missile production facility.

"Displaying this missile production facility deep underground is an answer to Westerners ... who think they can stop us from reaching our goals through sanctions and threats," Jafari was reported as saying.

"Europeans talk of limiting our defensive capability while they have the audacity [to allow] their offensive power be used to attack innocent people all over the world," he added.

On Wednesday, Hajizadeh told a forum in Tehran that Iran's "missile power is not negotiable."

"This deterrence power has been created for the country and we do not hold talks about it with anyone at all," he said.

Snub to EU

The comments appeared directed at the European Union, which earlier in the week called on Iran to stop its ballistic missile activity in a statement that also expressed concern over its intervention in regional conflicts.

The European statement came days after Iran on Saturday revealed that it had successfully tested a new cruise missile named Hoveizeh with a range of 1,350 kilometers.

European powers remains committed to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, but are under pressure from Washington to cut economic and political ties following the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions despite Tehran's compliance. Among the reasons the Trump administration cited in exiting the nuclear accord was Iran's ballistic missile program.

Hardline clerics and the Revolutionary Guards opposed the nuclear deal reached by moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

The Iran nuclear deal did not address the country's ballistic missile program.

A separate UN Security Council Resolution 2231 used weak language that "called upon" Iran not to undertake ballistic missile activity "designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons."

Iran argues that its ballistic missile capability is defensive and not "designed" to carry nuclear weapons, which it does not have and has been confirmed to not be pursuing.

Iran says it has limited its missiles to a range of up to 2,000 kilometers, which puts Israel, Gulf Arab states and US military bases in the region within reach. In October, the Revolutionary Guard fired the Zolfaghar from western Iran to hit jihadists in Syria.


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