Iran’s Guard fires cruise missiles in military exercise

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Tuesday fired cruise missiles during a major military exercise across the country’s south, media reported.

The semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to the Guard, did not specify the type and range of the missiles. But it said five cruise missiles and an unspecified number of attack drones successfully hit their targets.

Later, state TV showed the launch of the missiles, flight of drones and a ship that was exploded after frogmen planted mines on it.

The Guard’s navy chief. Gen. Ali Reza Tangsiri told state TV that his forces managed a coordinated war game across the coasts of Iran, from near the borders of Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow gateway for 20% of the world’s traded oil.

He said the drill has a message of “security, peace and friendship” to the regional nations.

The Guard in the past has said it has cruise missiles with ranges of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). It also has missiles that range up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), more than enough to reach archenemy Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.

The five-day annual exercise that began on Monday came days after the breakup of talks to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iran has accelerated its nuclear advances as negotiations to return to the accord struggle to make headway.

From time to time, Iran holds military exercises, saying they are aimed at improving the readiness of its forces and testing new weapons.

Last month, Iran’s military began its annual war games in a coastal area of the Gulf of Oman.

In 2018, former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal and re-imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since started enriching uranium up to 60% purity – a short technical step from the 90% needed to make an atomic bomb.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful. But the country’s steps away from its obligations under the 2015 accord have alarmed Israel and other world powers. Israel has repeatedly threatened unilateral action against Iran’s nuclear program.

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