The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has allegedly tested a ballistic missile capable of traveling up to 1,250 miles, far enough to reach Israel, according to a Monday report by the Islamic republic's quasi-official Tasnim News Agency that the minister of defense subsequently denied.
If true, the test is the latest in a series of short-, medium-, and long-range missile exercises in the past few months since reaching a nuclear deal in July 2015.
The latest missile tested within eight meters, said Gen. Ali Abdollahi, deputy chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier, according to the news agency, adding that the supposed exercise took place two weeks ago. "Eight meters means nothing, it means it's without error," he said, according to the Associated Press.
CBS News reports that the state-run Iranian News Agency (IRNA) called the missiles a "deterrence power," in hopes that their ability to reach American military bases in the region, as well as Israel, would deter an attack on Iran.
After the story broke, Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan castigated what IRNA described as "US-Saudi propaganda campaign over missile capability." Gen. Dehghan told IRNA that Iran had not conducted a missile test "with the range that was published in the media," but would not confirm or deny if the military had conducted any recent missile tests.
Tasnim, which produced the earlier report, is said to have close ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which oversees Iran's ballistic missile program.
The nuclear deal reached with world powers earlier this year does not prohibit missile tests. A United Nations Security Council resolution adopted in July does, however.
In that resolution, which holds until 2023, the United Nations states: "Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
When the nuclear deal became effective on January 16, the United Nations Security Council lifted most of Tehran's international sanctions. With its missile tests, Iran is now showing progress in its ballistic program after having scaled it back after the deal.
Iran's first missile testing since the July nuclear agreement came in October, when US officials said the country had tested a medium-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, which they said was in violation of a UN Security Council resolution. In November, Iran also launched a missile from near the Gulf of Oman that could travel as far as 1,200 miles.
During another missile test in March, Iran sent out tow missiles decorated with the Hebrew words, "Israel must be wiped out." Following this incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the countries that agreed to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for scaling back its nuclear program — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany — to punish Iran.
While Iran so far has not violated the deal, Mark Toner, United States Deputy State Department spokesman, said the American government was aware of Iran's alleged actions and closely following reports.
"If confirmed, we intend to raise the matter in the UN Security Council. We will also encourage a serious review of the incident and press for an appropriate response," said Mr. Toner. "This development underscores why we continue to work closely with partners around the world to slow and degrade Iran's missile program."