Tehran, Iran (AP) – Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted an exercise on Saturday that fired ballistic missiles against warships at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean.
The footage showed two missiles hitting a target at a distance of 1,800 kilometers, which Iranian state television has described as “hypothetical enemy enemy ships”. The report did not specify the type of missiles used.
In the first phase of the exercise on Friday, the Guard’s aerospace division launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against “hypothetical enemy bases”. Iranian state television described the exercise as taking place in the country’s vast central desert, the latest in a series of rapid exercises cited amid escalating tensions over its nuclear program. The footage also showed four unmanned triangular drones flying in close formation, hitting targets, and exploding.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased over a series of incidents resulting from President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. In Trump’s final days as president, Tehran recently seized a South Korean oil tanker and began enriching uranium closer to weapon quality while the U.S. sent B-52 bombers, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, and a nuclear submarine to the region to have.
In recent weeks, Iran has stepped up its military exercises as the country tries to pressure elected President Joe Biden over the nuclear deal, which he said America could re-enter.
Iran fired cruise missiles as part of a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, state media reported under surveillance of an apparently US nuclear submarine. The Iranian Navy did not identify the submarine at the time, but on Saturday a news website affiliated with state television said the ship was American. Helicopter footage of the exercise, released Thursday by the Iranian Navy, showed what looked like an Ohio-class guided missile submarine, the USS Georgia, which the US Navy sent to the Persian Gulf last month.
Iran has missile capabilities of up to 2,000 kilometers, far enough to reach archenemy Israel and US military bases in the region. In January last year, after the US killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran retaliated by firing a deluge of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops, which left dozen of them concussed .
In 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iranian nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump cited, among other things, the Iranian ballistic missile program when he withdrew from the agreement.
Then, when the US tightened sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the limits of the agreement on its nuclear development.