Iran test-fires 14 missiles able to reach Israel

In this photo released by the Iranian semi-official Fars News Agency, Revolutionary Guard's Tondar missile is launched in a drill, Sunday Sept. 27, 2009, near the city of Qom, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Tehran, Iran. Iran said it successfully test-fired short-range missiles during military drills Sunday by the elite Revolutionary Guard, a show of force days after the U.S. warned Tehran over a newly revealed underground nuclear facility it was secretly constructing. (AP Photo/Fars News Agency, Ali Shaigan)
AP Photo/Ali Shaigan, Fars

Iran test-fired 14 missiles Tuesday with a range sufficient to hit anywhere in Israel, and a host of U.S. military bases, reports CBS Radio News correspondent Robert Berger. The launches came as the Islamic Republic began 10 days of war games as a show of force amid an ongoing showdown with the West.

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander also claimed that his country has the ability to produce even longer range missiles than those currently in its arsenal.

But Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Guard's Aerospace Force, stressed that Iran will not manufacture such missiles because Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf are already within its reach.

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The remarks came amid Iran's latest show of military force amid a standoff with the West over the country's controversial nuclear program.

Hajizadeh said the Guard's arsenal already includes missiles with a range of about 1,250 miles — putting Israel, U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf and parts of southeastern and eastern Europe within Iran's reach.

The missiles, he said, were specifically designed for Israeli and U.S. targets. Iran's known missiles of such range are the Shahab-3 and the Sajjil. Iran considers Israel and United States its top enemies.

"There is no threat from any country to us other than the U.S. and the Zionist regime," Hajizadeh was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency. "The range of our missiles has been designed on the basis of the distance to the Zionist regime and the U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf region."

Hajizadeh said Iran "possess the technology" but will not manufacture missiles with a range over 1,250 miles. He gave no details. "We have no intention to produce such missiles."

In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denounced Hajizadeh's remarks.

"This new Iranian bragging demonstrates once again the aggressive policies of the ayatollahs' regime," Palmor said. "Not that we had any doubts prior to this statement. But this renewed threat makes it obvious why Iran is the No. 1 threat to this whole region and beyond."

Western intelligence reports say Iran is seeking to acquire the capability to produce inter-continental missiles with a range of up to 3,750 miles, a claim Iran has denied.

Hajizadeh said some U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan are as close as 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Iran's borders and can easily be hit by Iran in case of an attack.

The powerful Guard, which is in charge of Iran's missile program, kicked off the war games on Monday by unveiling an underground smart missile silos for the first time, claiming that medium- and long-range missiles stored in them are ready to launch if Iran was attacked.

The silos are widely viewed as a strategic asset for Iran in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities.

As part of the exercise, Iran on Tuesday also fired 14 missiles, including Shahab-1, Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 as well as Zelzal missile.

Iran remains locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran rejects the charges, and says the program is only for peaceful purposes.