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Iran's Guards Fire Five Test Missiles

Sunday, 25 April 2010 06:34 PM

TEHRAN - Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Sunday fired five shore-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles, ending four days of war games in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf, state media reported.

"Iran-made Nasr (Victory), Saeqeh (Lightning) and Noor (Light) missiles were tested. They have different ranges," Defence Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi told the ISNA news agency without elaborating on what those were.

"The Saeqeh is a cruise missle with appropriate payload," he added.

Earlier, state television reported that the five naval missiles successfully hit a single target simultaneously.

Vahidi, also a commander in the Guards, said that several drones of the sort that have sparked the concern of US commanders in neighbouring Afghanistan were also used in the exercise, dubbed "Prophet V."

"A number of locally manufactured drones were tested," Vahidi said. "They were able to send intelligence about enemy movements to our ground command posts," he said.

"We also tested laser smart weapons. They hit their targets with 100 percent accuracy," he said. He did not give further details.

Since Thursday, the Guards have been conducting manoeuvres in the Gulf and in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which 40 percent of the world's sea-borne oil supplies pass.

Iran boasts it also has missiles that can hit targets in arch-foe Israel as well as US interests in the region, although Western defence analysts have questioned some of its claims about its successes with its ballistic programme.

Thursday marked the 31st anniversary of the formation of the Guards by a decree from Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini soon after the 1979 revolution.

The corps is one of Iran's most powerful institutions and falls under the direct command of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini as supreme leader in 1989.

Vahidi dismissed talk of a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran specifically targeting the Guards' business interests.

"The Guards' greatest enemies have always been the aggressive Zionist and US regimes, and that remains the case today," he said.

"From the beginning the corps stood against any form of aggression and will continue to do so. Our enemies hate this," he added.

The United States and the European Union have singled out the Guards as a target for sanctions amid accusations that the force is the driving force behind Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

Western governments suspect the programme is cover for a drive for a nuclear warhead, something Iran strongly denies.

Neither the United States nor Israel, which has the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, have ruled out a resort to military action to prevent Iran developing an atomic bomb.

Washington has targeted the growing economic power of the Guards through unilateral sanctions for several years and is now spearheading efforts at the Security Council to secure agreement on a fourth round of UN sanctions that would target the force.

The Guards now permeate all sectors of Iranian society, with its engineering wing winning massive contracts.

On a visit to the Gulf in February, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she feared Iran was moving "toward a military dictatorship," with enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard "supplanting" the government.

"I fear the rise of the influence and power of the Revolutionary Guard... poses a very direct threat to everyone," she said.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010 06:34 PM
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