The new missile firings — the latest in a series of tests in recent days — appeared aimed at demonstrating Iran will push ahead with its ballistic program after scaling back its nuclear program under the deal reached last year with the US and other world powers.
Hard-liners in Iran’s military have fired rockets and missiles despite US objections since the deal, as well as shown underground missile bases on state television.
There was no immediate reaction from Jerusalem, where Biden was meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly opposed the nuclear deal.
Biden, speaking next to Netanyahu, did not acknowledge the missile launch directly but he issued a strong warning to the Iranians.
“A nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and the United States. And I want to reiterate which I know people still doubt here. If in fact they break the deal, we will act,” he said.
The semi-official Fars news agency offered pictures yesterday it said were of the Qadr H missiles being fired.
It said they were fired in Iran’s eastern Alborz mountain range to hit a target some 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) away off Iran’s coast into the Sea of Oman.
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols that region, declined to comment on the test.
Fars and state media reported the Hebrew inscription on the missiles. Similar phrases have been emblazoned on Iranian missiles before.
Fars quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, as saying the test was aimed at showing Israel that Iran could hit it.
“The 2,000-kilometre (1,240-mile) range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime,” Hajizadeh said.
“Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to immediately comment. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel in the past.
Israel, which is believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Mideast, repeatedly has threatened to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Hajizadeh stressed that Iran would not fire the missiles in anger or start a war with Israel.
“We will not be the ones who start a war, but we will not be taken by surprise, so we put our facilities somewhere that our enemies cannot destroy them so that we could continue in a long war,” he said.
North Korea’s nuclear warheads move
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country has miniaturised nuclear warheads to mount on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal, state media reported.
Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount pre-emptive attacks against the US and South Korea and stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric after coming under new UN and bilateral sanctions for its nuclear and rocket tests.
US and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North called “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.
Kim’s comments, were his first direct mention of the claim, made repeatedly in state media, to have miniaturised a nuclear warhead, which has never been independently verified.