Iran reports long-range missile launch in exercise

July 3, 2012 - 11:38 AM

TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) — Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards test fired several ballistic missiles on Tuesday, including a long-range variety capable of hitting U.S. bases in the region as well as Israel, Iranian media reported.

The official IRNA news agency said the surface-to-surface missiles successfully hit their targets, while semi-official Fars said the salvos included the so-called Shahab-3 missile. It quoted a leading officer as saying the missiles travelled distances of up to 1,300 kilometers, or 800 miles.

"So far, we have launched missiles from 300 to 1,300 kilometers in the maneuver," said Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Guards' aerospace division. He hinted that some missiles had an even longer range.

Iran has tested a variety of missiles in previous war games, including a Shahab-3 variant with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles).

Israel is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away from Iran's western borders, while the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Iranian shores in the Persian Gulf.

On Sunday, a European Union oil embargo meant to pressure Iran over its nuclear program came into effect. The West suspects the Islamic Republic wants to build nuclear weapons, and Israel has hinted at an attack if diplomatic efforts and sanctions fail to eliminate what it sees as a direct threat.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, such as power generation and cancer treatment.

The commander quoted by Fars said Iran also plans to use both unmanned and manned bombers in the war games.

He said Iran is testing a variety of other missiles in the exercises, which Tehran says aim to assess the accuracy and effectiveness of its warheads and weapons systems.