TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces on Friday held a military exercise involving ballistic missiles and drones in the country’s central desert, state TV reported, amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
In the first phase of the drill Friday morning, the Guard’s aerospace division launched several surface-to-surface ballistic missiles against simulated enemy bases, state TV reported. It said the drill included Zolfaghar and Dezful solid-fuel ballistic missiles. Bomb-carrying drones were also deployed. The Dezful, a version of the Zolfaghar, has a 700-kilometer (430-mile) range and 450-kilogram (992-pound) warhead.
Iran has missile capability of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), far enough to reach archenemy Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. Last January, after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran retaliated by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, resulting in brain concussion injuries to dozens of them.
In recent weeks, Iran has increased its military drills. On Wednesday, Iran’s navy held a two-day short-range missile drill in the Gulf of Oman. On Saturday, the Revolutionary Guard held a naval parade in the Persian Gulf. A week earlier, Iran held a massive drone maneuver across half the country.
Tensions are again rising in the waning days of the administration of President Donald Trump, as Iran ramps up pressure on the West over the U.S. sanctions campaign against the Islamic Republic.
Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump cited Iran’s ballistic missile program among other issues in withdrawing from the accord.
When the U.S. then increased sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development.
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