Iran says it has successfully test-launched ballistic missile amid nuclear tensions

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Iran successfully test-launched a ballistic missile with a potential 2,000-km range on Thursday, state media said, two days after the chief of Israel’s armed forces raised the prospect of “action” against Tehran over its nuclear program.

Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programs in the Middle East, says its weapons are capable of reaching the bases of arch-foes Israel and the United States in the region.

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Despite US and European opposition, the Islamic Republic has said it will further develop its “defensive” missile program.

“Our message to Iran’s enemies is that we will defend the country and its achievements. Our message to our friends is that we want to help regional stability,” Iranian Defense Minister Mohammadreza Ashtiani said.

State TV broadcast a few seconds of footage of what it said was the launch of an upgraded version of Iran’s Khorramshahr 4 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles) and able to carry a 1,500-kg (3,300-pound) warhead.

The state news agency IRNA said the liquid-fuel missile had been named the “Kheibar,” a reference to a Jewish castle overrun by Muslim warriors in the early days of Islam.

“The domestically build Kheibar missile’s outstanding features include quick preparation and launch time, which makes it a tactical weapon in addition to a strategic one,” it said.

Israel, which the Islamic Republic does not recognize, sees Iran as an existential threat. Iran says its ballistic missiles are an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the United States, Israel and other potential regional adversaries.

An Israeli military spokesperson said the military does not comment on such matters.

On Tuesday, the top Israeli general mooted possible military action against Iran as efforts by six world powers to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since last September, amid growing Western fears about Tehran’s accelerating nuclear advances.

The deal, which Washington ditched in 2018, imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities that extended the time Tehran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if it chose to do so. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

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