Iran tests more missiles in the Persian Gulf

State TV: Weapons have "special capabilities," Rice: US won't back down in face of threats against Israel.

iran missile 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
iran missile 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iran test-fired more long-range missiles overnight in a second round of exercises meant to show that the country can defend itself against any attack by the US or Israel, Iranian state television reported Thursday. The weapons have "special capabilities" and included missiles launched from naval ships in the Persian Gulf, along with torpedoes and surface-to-surface missiles, the broadcast said. It did not elaborate. A brief video clip showed two missiles being fired simultaneously in the darkness, followed by red plumes of fire and smoke. The report came hours after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran that Washington will not back down in the face of threats against Israel. "We are sending a message to Iran that we will defend American interests and the interests of our allies," Rice said Thursday in Georgia at the close of a three-day Eastern European trip. Among the missiles Iran said it tested Wednesday was a new version of the Shahab-3, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead. That would put Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan all within striking distance. Wednesday's missile tests were conducted at the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which up to 40 percent of the world's oil passes. Iran has threatened to shut down traffic in the strait if attacked. Oil prices jumped on news of Wednesday's tests, rising $1.44 to $137.48 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. But another Iranian state channel, Press TV, quoted a senior Republican Guard commander Thursday as saying Iran would maintain security in the Strait of Hormuz and the larger Gulf. Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, chief of the Guards' joint staff, called the missile tests a "defensive measure against invasions," according to the channel's Web site. Iran will not jeopardize the interests of neighboring countries, he said without elaborating. Even as Hejazi appeared to downplay possible regional jitters over Iran's missile tests, Teheran's standoff with the West coincided Thursday with news that French energy giant Total SA would not invest in Iran for now. "The conditions are not present for investing in Iran today," said Total spokeswoman Lisa Wiler. "We hope that the political relations will improve so that we can invest." Total had been in discussions for developing a liquefied natural gas project linked to Iran's South Pars gas field with Malaysia's Petronas. But Total and oil majors have been under increasing political pressure from the United States and its allies over their activities in Iran amid mounting tensions over Iran's nuclear program, which the US and other countries fear is aimed at building weapons but Teheran insists is for producing nuclear energy.