Iran successfully launches newest ballistic missile

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Iran successfully tested a 2,000km-range ballistic missile on Thursday, Iranian 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 Israel and US bases in the region.

Despite opposition from the United States and European countries, Tehran has said it would 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,” said Iranian defense minister Mohammadreza Ashtiani.

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 1,500kg warhead.

State News agency IRNA said the missile was called Kheibar, a reference to a Jewish castle overrun by Muslim warriors in the early days of Islam.

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.

On Tuesday, the top Israeli general 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 Tehran’s accelerating nuclear advances.

The nuclear agreement, which Washington ditched in 2018, imposed restrictions 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. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

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