Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Iran’s ballistic missiles can fly 400km above the ground to hit targets at 2,000km within 12 to 13 minutes, Fars News Agency (FNA) reported.
Hajizadeh said Iran would never start a regional war. However, “we need to strengthen our security through missile shields”.
He went on to state that in case of an attack, the IRGC will not only defend but also retaliate using its different classes of missiles.
The IRGC Commander said the recent missile drills went on for a week and only last Tuesday the IRGC decided to publicize it. He said the drills didn’t go against the nuclear agreement, and described the country’s missile defense program as Iran’s red line.
On Thursday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said the missile drills did not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) agreed between Tehran and the six major powers, also known as the nuclear deal.
He said the missile exercises also did not go against Resolution 2231 of the United Nations Security Council.
“Despite some western allegations, the ballistic missiles fired in the nationwide exercises did not violate the JCPOA or the UN Resolution 2231. The short- medium- and long-range ballistic missiles fired during the drills were for deterrence and defense. None of them could carry nuclear warheads, which by the way, is not in Iran’s defense doctrine,” he added.
According to Jaberi Ansari, Tehran issued a statement following the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA, which said, “Iran will continue to take the necessary measures to strengthen its defense capabilities in order to protect its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity against any aggression and to counter the menace of terrorism in the region. In this context, Iranian military capabilities, including ballistic missiles, are exclusively for legitimate defense. They have not been designed for WMD capability, and are thus outside the purview or authority of the Security Council resolution and its annexes.”
The IRGC began major ballistic missile exercises last Tuesday. Called “Eqtedar-e Velayat”, the command, tactical and special exercises were conducted in the presence of IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as well as General Hajizadeh.
The exercises were meant to test advanced missile defense systems as well as showcase the deterrence power and the clout of the IRGC forces in defending the country's territorial integrity against foreign threats.
The drills were held in different geographical locations, using ballistic missiles fired from silos in Central Iran and mountain ranges in the North.