Defense minister also claims Russia’s S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system to be delivered soon
(SOURCE) Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan announced Tehran is set to unveil an upgraded ballistic missile, dubbed the Emad, a month after the United States threatened to impose fresh sanctions over the country’s missile program.
“We will unveil the next generation of Emad with improved precision in the next (Iranian) year (beginning March 20),” Reuters quoted Dehghan as saying on Tuesday.
In a move likely to illicit harsh international backlash, the defense minister said mass production of the missile, a medium-range rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, would begin in the near future.
“The Emad missile is not a violation of the nuclear deal or any UN resolution since we will never use a nuclear warhead (on it). It’s an allegation,” Dehghan said, referring to recent reports that the US had plans — later shelved — to introduce a fresh round of sanctions following two missile tests by the Islamic Republic in October.
Britain, France, Germany and the US all demanded a UN investigation into the Emad test launches, and a UN committee later determined the launches violated a Security Council resolution that prohibits Tehran from launching ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran at the time denied the missile launch was in violation of the resolution, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying that it was not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Dehghan on Tuesday also announced that Russia will begin delivering the S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system to Iran within the next two months, in accordance with an agreement struck between the two countries last year.
In the wake of a landmark nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July, the two countries announced that Russia would sell the missile system to Iran.
Russia initially agreed to sell the advanced system to Iran in 2007 but then balked, saying at the time it was complying with a United Nations arms embargo.
The S-300 is capable of tracking multiple planes at once and some versions have an interception range of 200 kilometers. It is considered to be one of the most sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons in the world.
AFP contributed to this report.