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Iran Says Ballistic Missile Tests 'Response to Threats'

  • VOA News

A surface-to-surface missile is launched in an undisclosed location in Iran, July 3, 2012. (photo provided by ISNA) (AP has no way of independently verify the content, location or date of this image.)

A surface-to-surface missile is launched in an undisclosed location in Iran, July 3, 2012. (photo provided by ISNA) (AP has no way of independently verify the content, location or date of this image.)

Iran says it has successfully tested medium-range ballistic missiles which experts say are capable of hitting Israel.

Official Iranian media quoted a leading officer in the Revolutionary Guards Corps Tuesday as saying the exercises included the Shahab 3 missile, which flew up to 1,300 kilometers. Shorter-range Shahab 1 and 2 and other missile classes were also tested during the last two days.

IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said the drills are a direct response to Iran's enemies who talk of a "military option being on the table."

The West suspects Iran wants to build nuclear weapons. Iranian officials have in the past threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. Israel has hinted at an attack if diplomatic efforts and sanctions fail to eliminate Iran's nuclear ambitions.

A European Union oil embargo meant to pressure Iran over its nuclear program went into effect Sunday.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports the United States has moved "significant military reinforcements" into the Persian Gulf to deter Iran from possible attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz.

Thirty-five percent of the world's seaborne oil currently passes through the strait.

U.S. Navy Captain John Kirby, said Tuesday the U.S. has eight minesweepers in the Gulf, which he said is "up from a few months ago." He acknowledged the assault ship U.S.S. Ponce is in the Gulf. But he said he has seen nothing to indicate unusual Iranian activity in the region.

Kirby told reporters the U.S. will maintain a strong security presence in the Middle East and that "our commitments remain firm to allies and partners there."

He said about 40,000 American troops are in the region and that Iran's missile tests are part of an annual exercise "that they've done before."

Iranian state television showed footage of several missiles being launched. A number of analysts have challenged some of Iran's military assertions, saying its missiles are still relatively inaccurate and of limited use in conventional warfare.

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