Iran effectively overlooked US demands to stop is missile programme on Thursday, launching a new locally made ballistic missile and a set of cruise missiles.
According to the Iranian defence ministry the new missiles have a range of 1,400 kilometers.
As per the Iranian state TV, “The surface-to-surface missile, called martyr Qassem Soleimani, has a range of 1,400 km and the cruise missile, called martyr Abu Mahdi, has a range of over 1,000 km”.
Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in January in a US strike on their convoy in Baghdad airport.
“Missiles and particularly cruise missiles are very important for us … the fact that we have increased the range from 300 to 1,000 in less than two years is a great achievement,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“Our military might and missile programmes are defensive.”
The announcement came after Washington is pushing to extend the UN-imposed arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire in October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Tensions have been high between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when President Donald Trump pulled out the United States from the deal and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
According to the international media, Washington has stated that its aim is to force Tehran to agree to a broader deal that puts stricter limits on its nuclear work, curbs its ballistic missile program and ends its regional proxy wars. Iran has rejected talks as long as the US sanctions remain in place.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said that Trump has directed him to trigger ‘snapback’ which was a return of all US sanctions on Iran — at the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday, after the council rejected Washington’s bid to extend Tehran’s arms embargo.