Iran Unveils New Far-Reaching Surface-to-Surface Missile System

Iran has unveiled its latest missile project, a surface-to-surface cruise missile with capabilities of reaching 1,500 miles (2,500 kilometers).  The announcement comes in the final weeks before the March 31 deadline set for the world powers to make an agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program.

The new missile effectively puts the entire Middle East – including U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf – as well as Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and other parts of eastern and central Europe in Iranian missile range.

With external fuel tanks, the missile is capable of an increased range of 3,000 km. In addition, according to a foreign expert, the missile is capable of being launched from a plane as well as outfitted with a nuclear warhead, significantly increasing its reach.

In announcing the new weapons, Iran’s Defense Minister, Brigadier General Hussein Dahqan, said that the missile has “high precision” due to its radar system that is able to function “despite radio electronic counter measures of a potential enemy.”

The regime also revealed two other long-range ballistic missile systems, the Qadr and Qiyam, part of a series of “smart weapons” that are capable of evading radar and remaining over a battlefield for a prolonged period of time.

Dahqan, said that a large shipment of the ballistic missiles is being delivered to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.  

Iranian Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Aerospace and Missiles Force, who was also present at the ceremony on Sunday declared that Iran “will never negotiate the country's defense capabilities, including the development of its ballistic missiles.”

The cruise missile, dubbed the “Soumar” (after an Iranian town that was nearly wiped out by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in a chemical attack), is reported to be modelled on a Russian missile that was stolen from the Ukraine 12 years ago and sold by the Chinese to Iran.

Tuesday, Ali Shamkhani the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran said that Iran prevented the fall of Baghdad, Damascus and Erbil to the Islamic State. He also said that Iran has “arrived at the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb [the strait between Yemen and Africa].”

Shamkhani's declarations coincided with the visit to Baghdad of Martin Dempsy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His statements came at the ceremonies of the unveiling of the Iranian destroyer Damawaund, a combat ship.

Two days later, Ali Younesi, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that, “Iran today has become an empire like it used to be throughout its history and its capital now is Baghdad and it is the center of our civilization, culture and identity, today as it was in the past.” This was a reference to the Persian Sassanid Empire that ruled before Islam emerged and which conquered Iraq. The capital of the empire was Baghdad.

In other news, the main Iranian opposition group, the National Council for the Resistance of Iran (NCRI), reported that two women were hanged to death on the eve of the International Women's Say in a prison in Iran. NCRI identified one of the prisoners as Mehrnoosh Qavasi, a woman in her fifties, who was executed after serving many years in prison.

NCRI says that the two women were hanged with 10 other prisoners in Qezel Hesar prison as part of new wave of executions in cities across the country. The groups says that the executions were carried out in secret and were not reported in the Iranian media, which is controlled by the regime.

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