Iran warned the US on Monday that any attempt to encroach on the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program would constitute the crossing of a “red line.”
“The US calculations about the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation are fully incorrect,” Iranian Deputy Chief of Staff Brig-Gen Maassoud Jazzayeri was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying.
“The White House should know that defense capacities and missile power, specially at the present juncture where plots and threats are galore, is among the Iranian nation’s red lines and a backup for the country’s national security and we don’t allow anyone to violate it,” Jazzayeri said.
Jazzayeri accused US President Barack Obama of making vows and breaking them by saying removal of sanctions on Iran would be conditioned on the Islamic Republic halting its ballistic missile program.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired two ballistic missiles last month that it said were designed to be able to hit Israel, defying a threat of new sanctions from the United States.
The launches followed the test-firing of several missiles as part of a major military exercise that the IRGC says is intended to “show Iran’s deterrent power and… ability to confront any threat”.
The IRGC fired two Qadr missiles from northern Iran which hit targets in the southeast of the country 1,400 kms (870 miles) away, Iranian agencies said. The nearest point in Iran is around 1,000 km from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency.
Three months ago, Washington imposed sanctions against businesses and individuals linked to Iran’s missile program over a test of the medium-range Emad missile carried out in October 2015.
The IRGC, a powerful force that reports directly to the supreme leader, is deeply suspicious of the United States and its allies. It maintains dozens of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, the largest stock in the Middle East.
Washington fears those missiles could be used to carry a nuclear warhead at some point in the future, even after Iran implemented a nuclear deal with world powers in January that imposes strict limits and checks on its disputed nuclear program.
Iran’s missile program is subject to UN Security Council resolution 2231 that calls on the Islamic Republic not to develop missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran says its missiles are solely a conventional deterrent.