Iran backtracks on missile firing report
Senior navy commander denies Fars news agency reports that navy fired long-range missiles in war games; Mehr news agency says Iran will offer fresh nuclear negotiations in letter to EU.
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 31, 2011 10:06
3 minute read.
Iranian ballistic missile 311 (R).
(photo credit: Fars News / Reuters)
Iran's senior navy commander denied state media reports that the Islamic Republic had test-fired long-range missiles during a naval drill on Saturday, saying the missiles would be launched in the coming days.Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said imposing sanctions on Iran's oil exports would lead to a leap in prices.
Mahmoud Mousavi told Iran's English-language Press TV "the exercise of launching missiles will be carried out in the coming days."
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semi-official Fars news agency had earlier reported that Iran had
test-fired long-range and other missiles during the exercise on
However, another Iranian news agency also reported that Tehran's nuclear
negotiator would write to the European Union offering to resume nuclear
talks with major powers.
10-day naval drill in the Gulf began last week as Iran showed its
resolve to counter any attack by enemies such as Israel or the United
"Iran test-fired missiles including long range (missiles), surface to sea, ... in the Persian Gulf," Fars said on Saturday.
threatened on Tuesday to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of
Hormuz if it became the target of an oil embargo over its nuclear
ambitions, a move that could trigger military conflict with countries
dependent on Gulf oil.
Tensions with the West have risen since
the UN nuclear watchdog reported on Nov. 8 that Iran appears to have
worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be pursuing research to
that end. Iran denies this and says it needs nuclear technology to
generate electricity to meet growing domestic demand.
Letter to Ashton
semi-official Mehr news agency quoted a senior official as saying that
nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili would write to EU foreign affairs chief
Catherine Ashton to express Tehran's readiness for fresh nuclear talks
with major powers.
"Jalili will soon send a letter to Catherine
Ashton over the format of negotiations ... then fresh talks will take
place with major powers," said Iran's ambassador to Germany Alireza
Talks between Iran and the five permanent members
of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, Britain
and France, plus Germany (P5+1) stalled in January.
The EU is
considering a ban - already in place in the United States - on imports
of Iranian oil, although diplomats and traders say awareness is growing
in the EU that such a ban could damage the bloc's economy without doing
much to hurt Iran.
"Undoubtedly the price of crude will increase dramatically if sanctions
are imposed on our oil ... It will reach at least over $200 per barrel,"
the Aseman weekly quoted Qasemi on Saturday as saying.
During military drills in 2009, Iran test-fired its surface-to-surface
Shahab-3 missile, said to be capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases
in the Middle East.
Washington has expressed concern about Tehran's missiles, which include
the Shahab-3 strategic intermediate range ballistic missile with a range
of up to 1,000 km (625 miles), the Ghadr-1 with an estimated 1,600 km
range and a Shahab-3 variant known as Sajjil-2 with a range of up to
Iranian media have said the latest naval exercise differed from previous
ones in terms of "the vastness of the area of action and the military
equipment and tactics that are being employed".