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Iran tests ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel

Iran has successfully test-fired a 2,000 kilometre-range ballistic missile, according to state media.

The missile launch came only two days after the head of the Israeli Defence Forces raised the prospect of “action” against Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme.

Iran, believed to possess one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, said the upgraded weaponry was capable of reaching Israel and US bases in the region.

Despite American and European opposition, Iran has said it would further develop its “defensive” missile programme.

“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 Defence Minister, Mohammadreza Ashtiani said.

“One of the prominent characteristics of this missile is its ability to evade radar detection and penetrate enemy air defence systems, thanks to its low radar signature.

“This missile has the capability to utilise various warheads for different missions.”

State TV broadcast what it said was footage of an upgraded version of Iran’s Khoramshahr 4 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000km that can carry a 1,500 kilogram warhead.

According to the state News agency, IRNA, the missile is called Kheibar — a reference to a Jewish castle overrun by Muslim warriors in the early days of Islam.

A recent ABC report says the Khorramshahr has the heaviest payload of Iran’s ballistic missile fleet, which analysts say may be designed to keep the weapon under a 2,000-kilometre range limit imposed by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameni’i.

Authorities showed off the Khorramshahr-4 to journalists at an event in the capital, Tehran, with the missile on a truck-mounted launcher.

Regional tensions likely played a role in Iran’s latest missile display, the ABC report said.

At the display, a miniature example of Jerusalem’s golden Dome of the Rock on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a holy site in both Islam and Judaism that Jews call the Temple Mount, stood next to the mobile launcher.

Israel, which Tehran does not recognise, sees Iran as a threat to its existence.

Even as they deny the existence of a nuclear weapons programme as alleged by Israel and the West, the Iranian authorities have said their ballistic missiles were an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the Jewish state, the US and other potential regional adversaries.

On Tuesday, Israel’s military chief raised the prospect of “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 the country’s accelerating nuclear programme.

The world powers involved in the now-obsolete nuclear deal with Iran are: the US, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the United Nations.

Writing by Tony Okerafor