Iran successfully tested a new precision-guided ballistic missile, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying Sunday, signaling an apparent advance in Tehran’s attempts to improve the accuracy of its missile battery.
“The Emad missile is able to strike targets with a high level of precision and completely destroy them,” state news agency IRNA quoted Dehghan as saying.
Anthony Cordesman, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in January that the Emad would have a range of 1,700 km (1,060 miles), 500 meters accuracy and a 750 kg (1,653 pound) payload.
It is a variant of the liquid-fueled Shahab-3 missile, in service since 2003, which has a similar range but is accurate only to within 2,000 meters.
“The Emad represents a major leap in terms of accuracy. It has an advanced guidance and control system in its nose cone,” Israeli missile expert Uzi Rubin said.
Dehghan said the new weapon would be deployed to missile units in the “near future”.
Iran’s developing missile program is being closely watched around the world.
Since 1992, Iran has emphasized a self-sufficient and indigenous military production industry, producing missiles, tanks and light submarines. The government frequently announces military advances which cannot independently verified.
The Islamic Republic already claims to have surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) that can hit Israel and US military bases in the region.
Concerns over such claims were reduced following the historic agreement reached in mid-July that limits Iran’s uranium enrichment programme and permits international inspections of nuclear sites in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has stressed that Tehran would not attack any other country in the region. Iran’s military capabilities were primarily concerned with defence, he said.