Iran tests surface-to-air missile

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Iran has test-fired a precision air-to-surface missile with a 70-mile range, a news agency reported Sunday, a capability that could threaten ships in the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s semiofficial Fars New Agency cited unnamed Iranian military experts saying the 1,100-pound missiles mounted on jet fighters include an “automatic guidance capability” and a “special warhead” for destroying large ships.

The U.S. Navy keeps dozens of warships off the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf to escort oil tankers and serve as a check against Iran’s ambitions.


The U.S. and Israel, among others, are concerned about Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which they suspect is being used to produce fuel for an eventual nuclear bomb. On Sunday, Israel’s top military intelligence officer, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said at a closed Cabinet meeting that Iran now had the expertise and materials needed to produce atomic weapons, according to an Associated Press report.

Tehran insists nuclear weapons violate Iran’s Islamic principles and says its program is meant for energy production.

Israeli and U.S. officials have raised the possibility of military action to halt or slow Iran’s progress in amassing nuclear technology if efforts at diplomatic outreach fail.

Iran has scrambled to upgrade its capabilities in anticipation of a possible war. The head of the Revolutionary Guard said last week that Iran had missiles that could reach Israel’s nuclear sites in case of war. Iran has also been trying to obtain sophisticated Russian S-300 antiaircraft missiles to defend against or discourage a U.S. or Israeli attack.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a neoconservative think tank close to Israel, said in a report last week that the Jewish state probably would attack Iran if it were about to get the S-300s, which Moscow has not delivered.

News of the test was not carried by Iran’s official news agency.

The report prompted tough words from Republican Sen. John McCain.

“Time after time after time the Iranians have been belligerent and even very hostile in their reactions to our efforts” at diplomatic outreach, he told Fox News.