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Iran unveils new short-range missiles, drones

Aug. 24, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Hassan Rouhani
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, second right in first row, visits a defense industry display on Aug. 24 in Tehran, Iran. (Mohammad Berno / AP)
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TEHRAN, IRAN — Iran unveiled a new generation of short-range marine missiles and aerial drones on Sunday, as President Hassan Rouhani said its military doctrine was based on deterring and countering threats from unnamed foreign powers.

The official IRNA news agency said the Ghadir missile, with a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles), is designed to destroy marine targets. It did not give a range for the Nasr-e Basir cruise missile, but said it could “operate in silence,” without elaborating.

Iran also unveiled two new drones, the high-altitude Karrar-4 and the Mohajer-4. The latter can be used to generate maps for both military and civilian purposes, IRNA said.

At a ceremony marking the inauguration, Rouhani reiterated that his country was not seeking nuclear weapons but said it would not ignore threats.

“We do not sit idly by with regard to threats. We do not remain calm towards plots by the enemy,” he said in a speech broadcast live by state TV, without elaborating. Iran has long accused the United States, which maintains military bases just across the Gulf in Arab countries, of plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani, a relative moderate elected last year on a promise to engage the West diplomatically, said Iran’s military doctrine is based on “deterrence and effective defense.”

Tehran regularly announces military advances that cannot be independently verified.

But a Pentagon report released earlier this year noted that Iran’s military displays had become “less strident” since Rouhani succeeded hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Widespread publicity of major military exercises, previously the norm, has been minimal,” the report said.

Iran launched a homegrown defense industry in 1992 that produces light and heavy weapons ranging from mortars to tanks and submarines. It has surface-to-surface missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), enough to reach Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.

Western nations have long suspected Iran of seeking a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program, and have expressed concern about its missile program. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes and says its missiles are needed to deter attacks. The U.S. and Israel have each vowed to take military action if necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.

“We have not been, we are not and we will not pursue weapons of mass destruction,” Rouhani said Sunday. “For religious and humanitarian reasons we pursue neither nuclear nor microbial nor chemical weapons.”

He went on to call for a nuclear-free Middle East, in a reference to Israel’s undeclared atomic arsenal.

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