News / Middle East

    Iran Launches More Ballistic Missile Tests, While Taunting Israel

    In this photo obtained from the Iranian Fars News Agency, a Qadr H long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, during a maneuver, in an undisclosed location in Iran, Wednesday, March 9, 2016.
    In this photo obtained from the Iranian Fars News Agency, a Qadr H long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, during a maneuver, in an undisclosed location in Iran, Wednesday, March 9, 2016.
    Ken Bredemeier

    Iran says it launched two ballistic test missiles Wednesday, purportedly inscribing them with a message in Hebrew that "Israel should be wiped from the pages of history."

    The semi-official Fars news agency showed pictures it said were of Qadr H missiles being fired from Iran's eastern Alborz mountain range, their target 1,400 kilometers away off the country's coast into the Sea of Oman.

    "The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers is to be able to hit our enemy, the Zionist regime, from a safe distance," said Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

    Hajizadeh stressed Iran would not start a war with Israel, with Tehran describing the tests as a show of its "deterrent power."

    The tests came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in Jerusalem for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Biden did not acknowledge the missile tests, Iran's second this week, but he warned Iran against any violations of the internationally negotiated nuclear deal that curbed Tehran's development of nuclear weaponry in exchange for lifting sanctions that had hobbled its economy.

    "A nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and the United States," Biden said as he stood next to Netanyahu, who had unsuccessfully opposed the nuclear pact.  "And I want to reiterate which I know people still doubt here. If in fact they break the deal, we will act."

    The nuclear pact, negotiated by the United States and five other world powers, does not prohibit the missile tests.

    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israel Radio the tests showed Iran's hostility toward the Jewish state had not changed since the January implementation of the nuclear pact, even with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's overtures to the West.

    Yaalon said, "To my regret there are some in the West who are misled by the honeyed words of part of the Iranian leadership while the other part continues to procure equipment and weaponry, to arm terrorist groups."

    The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it planned to ask the U.N. Security Council to review the Iranian tests and "press for an appropriate response."

    "We also continue to aggressively apply our unilateral tools to counter threats from Iran’s missile program," spokesman John Kirby said.

    The nuclear agreement brought a new U.N. Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to not "undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."

    The nearest point in Iran is about 1,000 kilometers from the key Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

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