Iran Test-Fires Missiles In Show Of Defiance

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Iranian officials say the decision to test-fire several missiles Wednesday was a response to hostile rhetoric from the United States and Israel.

Footage of nine missiles being test-fired in a desert Wednesday morning was broadcast on Iranian state-run television. Among them was a Shahab-3 missile. With its range of some 1,200 miles, the weapon could reach Israel from Iranian territory.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander called the exercise a clear message to Iran's enemies.

"We are fully prepared to counter any possible enemy aggression or adventurism. … This maneuver sends out a message that we can secure the Persian Gulf," Revolutionary Guard naval commander Morteza Saffari told Iranian television.

Tensions have escalated between Tehran and Washington amid reports that Israel conducted military exercises last month to train for a possible attack against Iran.

At issue is Iran's nuclear program. Tehran insists it is developing nuclear power for peaceful energy needs. Western governments fear the Iranians are trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran's foreign minister recently suggested that his government would be willing to open a new round of negotiations on the nuclear program with the European Union.

But Tuesday, an influential cleric who serves as an adviser to Iran's supreme leader issued a more bellicose statement.

Ali Shirazi warned that in the event of an attack, Tehran would retaliate. The first targets, he added, would be the Israeli city of Tel Aviv and U.S. shipping in the Persian Gulf.



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