Thu, 25 Feb 2021

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has conducted the second and last phase of a drill launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported.

The drill on January 16 comes amid heightened tensions over Tehran's nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Footage showed two missiles smash into a target that Iranian state television described as "hypothetical hostile enemy ships" at a distance of 1,800 kilometers.

In the first phase of the drill on January 15, the IRGC launched several surface-to-surface ballistic missiles against simulated enemy bases in the country's central desert as part of the exercises.

Iran has a missile capability range of up to 2,000 kilometers, enough to reach its sworn enemy Israel and U.S. military bases in the Middle East.

Iran has increased its military drills in recent weeks with tensions building during the final days of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Last week, Iran's navy held two-day short-range missile exercises in the Gulf of Oman. Those followed an IRGC naval parade in the Persian Gulf.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have risen since 2018, when Trump withdrew Washington from an international nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, arguing that the 2015 accord did not go far enough.

The U.S. administration also imposed crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a "maximum pressure" campaign aimed at forcing Tehran to negotiate a new agreement that would also address the country's missile programs and its support for regional proxies.

Iran, which claims its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, says that the country's missile program and regional policies are off the table.

Since the U.S. pullout and economic sanctions, Tehran has breached parts of the nuclear pact -- under which Tehran committed to limit its nuclear activities in return for relief from sanctions -- saying it is no longer bound by it.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, has suggested that Washington may reenter the deal if Iran complies with its terms.

But Iranian officials insist that the United States should first lift its sanctions.

With reporting by AP, ISNA, and Press TV

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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