Tehran claims ‘successful test’ of new 1,350km cruise missile

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Above, a Hoveizeh cruise missile on display at the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in Tehran. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)
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Soldiers visit the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, to mark celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the country’s Islamic revolution. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2019

Tehran claims ‘successful test’ of new 1,350km cruise missile

  • The new surface-to-surface missile, named Hoveizeh, was from the Soumar family of cruise missiles, which were unveiled in 2015
  • Analyst says Iran's new cruise missile as “a hodgepodge of parts and technology ranging from Ukraine to China”

JEDDAH:  Iran claimed on Saturday it had “successfully tested” a new cruise missile with a range of over 1,350 kilometers.

An undated 37-second video on the country’s Defense Ministry website appeared to show the launch from different angles with the projectile fired from a mobile launcher and landing in the desert.

“The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 kilometers and accurately hit the set target,” Defense Minister Amir Hatami said. “It can be ready in the shortest possible time and flies at a very low altitude.” 

Hatami described the surface-to-surface Hoveizeh as the “long arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” It is part of the Soumar group of cruise missiles, first unveiled in 2015 with a range of 700 kilometers, he said.

Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aerospace division, said Iran had overcome problems in producing jet engines for cruise missiles and could now manufacture a full range of the weapons. 

The launch was part of an arms exhibition in Tehran called “40 years of defensive achievements.” Iran began 10 days of celebrations on Friday to mark the 40th anniversary of its revolution.

Western sanctions have starved Iran’s air force of spare parts and replacement aircraft, limiting its operational capacity. Instead Tehran has expanded its missile program, in defiance of opposition from the US and concern by European countries.

Washington warned Tehran last month against undertaking three planned rocket launches that it said would violate a UN Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” The US has repeatedly accused Iran of violating the resolution.

Iran’s space program has also been criticized. The US says a failed satellite launch in mid-January was cover for an attempt at intercontinental ballistic missile capability.

Nevertheless, Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities. 

Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington DC, described the new cruise missile as “a hodgepodge of parts and technology ranging from Ukraine to China.”

The test “demonstrates Iran’s ability to be able to fire off missiles, but there remain serious questions about technical capabilities and targeting success,” he said. 

“As a psychological tool, the missile test succeeds in attracting attention to Tehran’s continuing threatening behavior with expensive missile tests. From Tehran’s point of view, the missile and others in the series are meant to cajole the West into bringing Iran into a larger arms control negotiation by using missile theatrics that just won’t fly.”

Iran says its missile tests are not in violation of the resolution and denies its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It says its missiles are defensive and used for deterrence and has rejected talks over its missile program.

US President Donald Trump quit the deal last year and reimposed sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.

Washington says although Iran has met the terms, the accord was too generous, failing to rein in Iran’s ballistic missile program or curb what the United States says is interference in regional affairs.

Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

Updated 18 August 2019

Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

  • Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel

RAMALLAH: Relatives of a US congresswoman say they support her decision to decline Israel’s offer allowing her to visit them in the West Bank because the “right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions.”

Rashida Tlaib said she would not see her family, even after Israel lifted a ban on her entry, because the government had imposed restrictions on her trip.

“We totally understand her position and support her in her efforts. The right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions,” her uncle Bassam Tlaib told Arab News.

He was speaking from the family home in Beit Ur Al-Fuka, which is 3 km from the West Bank city of Ramallah, and was flanked by his elderly mother.

He said his niece had visited them many times in the past, but there had never been any conditions attached to her travel.

“She said we will meet when she can come without conditions,” Tlaib said. “One idea has been floated of flying the grandmother to the US or finding a way to have the two meetings in a third country. You know my mother is nearing 90 and it is not easy for her to travel but we are checking out all options.”

Tlaib, a Democrat, has criticized Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and had planned to make an official visit to the country.

Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel, local media reported.

But the congresswoman, who is Palestinian-American, lashed out on social media.

“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” she tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother. “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The NGO hosting and organizing the trip, Miftah, has been criticized by supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Hanan Ashrawi, the NGO’s founder, said her staff had organized other congressional trips. “This was the third trip we have organized, and we try to do our work professionally and seriously,” Ashrawi told Arab News. “Our very mission is to promote global dialogue and democracy.”

Ashrawi said the attacks on Miftah were unwarranted.  “Miftah has been targeted with the expressed goal of trying to discredit us even though our record is clear. We believe that they are trying to keep organizing congressional delegations within the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) monopoly, while we are trying to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about Palestinian life under occupation and to understand the Palestinian narrative by providing opportunities for delegations to see and engage with Palestinians of all walks of life.” 

Ashrawi said Miftah had been “vetted” by the US Congress’ ethics committee. “We might not be able to bring hundreds of congress people like AIPAC, but we can bring a few and have them see, hear and interact with Palestinians.”

US President Donald Trump had called on Israel not to allow Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar into Israel as admitting the two “would show great weakness.”

He tweeted that the pair “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace.”