‘Israel to be wiped off face of the earth’ Iran inscribes on ballistic missiles

Iran said its armed forces had fired two more ballistic missiles bearing the Hebrew-language inscription “Israel needs to be wiped off face of the earth” on Wednesday as it continued tests in defiance of US warnings.

“Long-range Qadr-H and Qadr-F precision missiles were fired today… which destroyed targets” some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away, official media quoted the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, as saying.

The two types of missiles were designed to, and capable of striking Israel, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency as saying.

“The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2000 km (1,200 miles) is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance.”

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The commander of the Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said that the missiles were fired on the sidelines of the “”The Power of Velayat”, a reference to the religious doctrine of the Islamic republic’s leadership, were undertaken by the Revolutionary Guards and its Aerospace wing.

The launch of the missiles, which come two days after similar testing, are an indication that IRGC missile silos, which Jafari said are “scattered all over the country and fully operational.”

On Tuesday Jafari was quoted by Tasnim as saying that “most” IRGC missiles are capable of reaching Israel and that “enemies of the Islamic Revolution and security in the region should be in panic about the roar of the IRGC missiles.”

US Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the US would take action against Iran if long-range ballistic missile tests Tehran said it carried out were confirmed.

“I want to reiterate, as I know people still doubt, if in fact they break the (nuclear) deal, we will act,” Biden said during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“All their conventional activity outside the deal, which is still beyond the deal, we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it.”

The United States hit Iran with fresh sanctions on its missile program in January, 24 hours after separate sanctions related to Tehran’s nuclear activities had been lifted under a landmark deal with world powers.

On Tuesday, following the US criticism, Iran threatened to walk away from the nuclear agreement reached last year with world powers.

“If our interests are not met under the nuclear deal, there will be no reason for us to continue,” Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, was quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying during remarks delivered to Iranian officials in Tehran.

“If other parties decide, they could easily violate the deal. However, they know this will come with costs.”

The tests come less than two weeks after elections in Iran delivered gains to politicians aligned with Hassan Rouhani, the country’s moderate president.

The Revolutionary Guards report to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not Rouhani, and their influence dwarfs that of the army and other armed forces.

Ballistic missile tests have been seen as a means for Iran’s military to demonstrate that the nuclear deal will have no impact on its plans, which is says are for domestic defense only.

Jafari and Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, spoke about the tests on television, with the latter downplaying the effect of US efforts to disrupt its activities.

“Our main enemies, the Americans, who mutter about plans, have activated new missile sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and are seeking to weaken the country’s missile capability,” Hajizadeh said.

“The Guards and other armed forces are defenders of the revolution and the country will not pay a toll to anyone… and will stand against their excessive demands.”

Iran’s ballistic missile program has been contentious since the nuclear deal with the United States and five other powers was struck in Vienna on July 14 last year.

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On October 11, Tehran conducted the first of two ballistic missile tests which angered Washington. State television weeks later aired unprecedented footage of underground missile storage bunkers.

A UN panel said in December that the tests breached previous resolutions aimed at stopping Tehran from developing missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Iran has always denied seeking an atomic weapon and argues that its missiles would never be designed to, nor ever carry, the bomb.

The nuclear deal was heralded by moderates such as Rouhani, who staked his reputation on the negotiations, but hardliners in Tehran said it damaged national interests.

Announcing the new missile sanctions on January 17, one day after the nuclear deal was implemented, US President Barack Obama said “profound differences” with Tehran remained over its “destabilising activities”.

Five Iranians and a network of companies based in the United Arab Emirates and China were added to an American blacklist.

The White House had first threatened to impose the measures in December but withdrew them after Rouhani hit out at both their timing and intent. Missiles were not part of the nuclear agreement.

Asked before the missile sanctions were announced how Iran would react to fresh measures against it, Rouhani said: “Any action will be met by a reaction.”

Those measures came after four Iranian-Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, left Tehran following their release in a prisoner swap with the United States. The exchange took place on the same day the nuclear deal came into force.

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