IRAN today unveiled its latest upgraded missile defence system which it brags can detect enemy missiles and drones from more than 250 miles away.
The mobile Falaq radar installation is said to be an upgraded version of the current Gamma system, which military experts said was of Russian origin.
“This system has high capabilities and can detect all types of cruise and ballistic missiles and drones,” said Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard, commander of Iran’s air defence unit.
The announcement comes at a time of rising tension between the Islamic republic and the United States.
In June, Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone with a surface-to-air missile for allegedly violating its airspace, which the United States denies.
And earlier this week, Hassan Rouhani warned that any conflict with Iran would lead to “the mother of all wars”.
The Iranian President gave the warning in a speech broadcast live on state TV, once again saying that shipping might not be safe in the Strait of Hormuz.
His warning comes as British ships join the US Navy in the Gulf following the seizure of two ships.
Iran also unveiled three new precision guided missiles with defence minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami saying the country “will not hesitate for a moment to defend itself”.
Among the new weapons was a guided missile named Yasin, which has folding wings and is designed to be fired from a drone.
Another was the Balaban, which Iran said could be fired from an aircraft before being guided to its target using GPS and other sensors.
Finally, an updated version of the heat-seeking Ghaem missile, which is also designed as an air-to-air weapon, was unveiled according to the Fars news agency.
Tensions have been rising between the Islamic Republic and the West since the United States pulled out of an international nuclear agreement last year.
Rouhani said: “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
He was speaking at the Foreign Ministry in a speech which also praised Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after the United States imposed sanctions on him on July 31.
If the United States wants to have negotiations with Iran then it must lift all sanctions, Rouhani said, noting that Iran must be allowed to export oil.
Fuelling fears of a Middle East war with global repercussions, the Guards seized British tanker Stena Impero near the Strait of Hormuz in July for alleged marine violations.
Two weeks earlier British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar accused of violating sanctions on Syria.
“A strait for a strait. It can’t be that the Strait of Hormuz is free for you and the Strait of Gibraltar is not free for us,” Rouhani said.
Approximately one-fifth of the world’s oil traffic passes through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The Guards seized an Iraqi oil tanker in the Gulf on Wednesday which they said was smuggling fuel and detained seven crewmen, Irans state media reported.
Yesterday the MoD said that the Royal Navy would be working with the United States Navy to assure the security of merchant shipping passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
The ministry added mission would largely draw on assets already in the region including the warships HMS Duncan and HMS Montrose, which are already escorting UK – flagged ships.
The UK has also offered to lead one of the mission’s maritime task groups.
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Since it began escorting UK-flagged vessels last month, the Royal Navy has conducted 47 of what the MoD called “group accompaniments” through the Strait of Hormuz.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The UK is determined to ensure her shipping is protected from unlawful threats and for that reason we have joined the new maritime security mission in the Gulf.
“The deployment of the Royal Navy assets is a sign of our commitment to our UK-flagged vessels and we look forward to working alongside the US and others to find an international solution to the problems in the Strait of Hormuz.”
Recent US and Iran tensions
- May 5: USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force is deployed in Middle East in response to ‘a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings’ by Iran.
- May 8: Iran vows to enrich its uranium stockpile if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its nuclear deal. The US responds by imposing sanctions on Iran’s metals industry.
- May 10: The US says it will move a Patriot missile battery into the Middle East to counter threats from Iran.
- May 24: President Trump says the US will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops.
- May 12: The UAE says four commercial ships off its eastern coast “were subjected to sabotage operations,” just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets air false reports of explosions at a nearby Emirati port.
- June 13: Two oil tankers are attacked in the Gulf of Oman – Washington blames Iran while Tehran denies involvement.
- June 18: US sends more than 1,000 additional troops to Middle East citing Iran’s ‘hostile behaviour’.
- July 19: Trump said a US warship had destroyed an Iranian drone that came too close – but Iran has denied losing a drone.
- June 20: Iran shoots down American ‘spy’ drone insisting the aircraft had flown over its airspace – a claim the US denied.
- June 24: Trump imposes additional sanctions on Iranian leaders, including on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
- July 3: Iran confirmed its threat to increase uranuium enrichment after Europe failed to respond to requests to ease financial pressure on Iran.
- July 19: Iran seized a UK-flagged oil tanker in strategic waters.
- July 20: The Pentagon said US troops are being deployed to Saudia Arabia to defend American interests from “emergent credible threats”, amid heightened tensions over the safety of shipping lanes in the Gulf.
- July 22: Iran says it has arrested 17 spies who it claims were working for the CIA, and sentenced some of them to death.
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