Iran tests missiles near oil strait

2012-01-02 23:04

Tehran - Iran on Monday test-fired three missiles on the last day of navy war games near the Strait of Hormuz, according to official media.

The last of the weapons, a Nour missile, was launched late on Monday and successfully destroyed its target, the Islamic Republic News Agency and other outlets reported.

A navy spokesperson, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, told IRNA and state television that two other missiles, named Qader and Nasr, were fired earlier.

On Sunday, another missile, described as a medium-range surface-to-air weapon, was also tested.

The navy drill and missile tests were designed to show Iran's military might and ability to close the Strait of Hormuz - a vital shipping channel in the Gulf through which 20% of the world's oil flows - if the West applies more sanctions.

The United States and its allies have been ratcheting up the sanctions to punish Iran for pushing ahead with its nuclear programme. Western capitals accuse Iran of developing an atomic bomb, something Tehran denies.

France on Monday said the missile tests were a "very bad signal to the international community" and stressed to Iran that "freedom of navigation" must be maintained in the Strait of Hormuz.

Two of the missiles tested, the Qader ground-to-ship cruise missile and the Nour surface-to-surface missile, have a range of around 200km.

That is generally considered a short range for cruise missiles, even though Mousavi and Iranian media called the Qader a "long-range" missile.

The other missile tested, the Nasr, is an anti-ship weapon with a shorter range of around 35km.

Mousavi said it was "the first time" a Qader missile had been tested. He said it was built by Iranian experts.

The Nour and the Nasr missiles are based on Chinese designs.

"The super-advanced Nour system has been improved in its anti-radar, pursuit of target, navigation, control and its anti-electronic warfare systems, compared to its previous version," Mousavi said, according to the IRIB website.

"It can easily follow and hit the target after identifying it," he said.

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