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Iran Holds Ballistic Missile Drill     01/16 10:22


   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a 
drill Saturday launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target 
in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid heightened tensions over 
Tehran's nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic 

   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 (1,120 miles). The report did not specify the type of missiles 

   In the first phase of the drill Friday, the Guard's aerospace division 
launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against "hypothetical 
enemy bases." Iranian state television described the drill as taking place in 
the country's vast central desert, the latest in a series of snap exercises 
called amid the escalating tensions over its nuclear program. Footage also 
showed four unmanned, triangle-shaped drones flying in a tight formation, 
smashing into targets and exploding.

   Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased amid a series of 
incidents stemming from President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal from 
Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. Amid Trump's final days as president, 
Tehran has recently seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching 
uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the U.S. has sent B-52 bombers, 
the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region.

   In recent weeks, Iran has increased its military drills as the country tries 
to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear accord, which he has 
said America could reenter.

   Iran fired cruise missiles Thursday as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of 
Oman, state media reported, under surveillance of what appeared to be a U.S. 
nuclear submarine. Iran's navy did not identify the submarine at the time, but 
on Saturday, a news website affiliated with state television said the vessel 
was American. Helicopter footage of the exercise released Thursday by Iran's 
navy showed what resembled an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, the USS 
Georgia, which the U.S. Navy last month said had been sent to the Persian Gulf.

   Iran has missile capability of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), far 
enough to reach archenemy Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. Last 
January, after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran 
retaliated by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing 
U.S. troops, resulting in brain concussion injuries to dozens of them.

   Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran's nuclear deal, in 
which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the 
lifting of economic sanctions. Trump cited Iran's ballistic missile program 
among other issues in withdrawing from the accord.

   When the U.S. then increased sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly 
abandoned the deal's limits on its nuclear development.

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