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Iran tests cruise missile during navy war games

Iran today successfully tested a Ghader ground-to-ship cruise missile on the last day of navy war games near the Strait of Hormuz, the official news agency IRNA quoted a navy spokesman as saying.

world Updated: Jan 02, 2012 13:48 IST

Iran on Monday successfully tested a Ghader ground-to-ship cruise missile on the last day of navy war games near the Strait of Hormuz, the official news agency IRNA quoted a navy spokesman as saying.

"This missile built by Iranian experts successfully hit its target and destroyed it," Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi was quoted as saying.

He said it was "the first time" a Ghader missile had been tested.

The Ghader missile, also known as the Qader, is said to have a range of 200 kilometres (120 miles), which is generally considered medium-range or even short-range for a cruise missile, even though IRNA described it as "long-range."

Mousavi earlier told the ISNA news agency that "the Ghader is an ultra-modern missile with an integrated, ultra-precise radar whose range and intelligent anti-detection system have been improved over previous generations."

Mousavi said the navy was to test two other types of missiles later on Monday, a surface-to-surface Nour missile also with a range of 200 kilometres, and a Nasr anti-ship missile with a shorter range.

The Ghader is said to be entirely built by Iran.

The Nour and Nasr missiles are based on Chinese designs.

The Nour, also known as the Noor, is based on China's C-802 missile. Mousavi said the Nour missile to be fired "has been improved with its anti-radar and targeting system," according to ISNA.

An Iranian Nour missile was reportedly used by the Iran-linked Hezbollah militia in Lebanon to disable an Israeli warship during a 2006 conflict.

The Nasr anti-ship missile is based on China's C-704 missile and has a range of 35 kilometres (22 miles). Iran has them mounted aboard patrol boats.

Mousavi was quoted as saying that Syrian military observers would watch the tests.

Iran's navy started its 10 days of war games near the Strait of Hormuz on December 24.

They are due to finish Monday after the missile tests and an exercise practising "a new tactical formation" to be used to close the strait if so ordered, Mousavi was quoted as saying Sunday by the ISNA news agency.

On Sunday, the Iranian navy successfully tested "an anti-radar medium-range missile," Mousavi said.

Iranian leaders and military officials have warned that additional Western sanctions could push them to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world's oil flows.

Those warnings became more strident in recent days, with Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi vowing last Tuesday that "not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz" if more sanctions were imposed.

The United States, which bases its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf, has said it will not tolerate a closure of the strait.

Concern over the situation increased Saturday when US President Barack Obama signed into law new measures targeting Iran's central bank and financial sector.

The extra US sanctions aim to squeeze Iran's crucial oil sales, most of which are processed by the central bank. They will make foreign firms choose between doing business with the Islamic republic or the economically mighty United States.

Iran's currency, the rial, slipped to a record low Sunday on that news.

The state news agency IRNA and an Iranian website tracking the currency said it slid to around 16,000 to the dollar.

The European Union is also mulling an embargo on Iranian oil purchases, and a decision could be announced at an EU foreign ministers' meeting at the end of the month.

Iran, the second-biggest producer in Opec after Saudi Arabia, depends on oil sales for 80 percent of its foreign currency earnings.