With tougher sanctions by the European Union taking effect, Iran announced new missile tests and threatened to obliterate Israel.
The Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps launched missiles with ranges of 300, 500, 800, and 1,300 kilometers, the Mehr agency reported on Tuesday.
“The missiles that we have, their ranges are 2,000 kilometers, but in this war game only missiles with ranges of 1,300, 300, 500, and 800 kilometers are being used,” Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, told reporters near the scene of drills.
Hajizadeh also said that if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites, “they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth.”
The missiles are fired at bases modeled on airbases of “the extra-regional powers,” constructed in the heart of the Semnan desert in north central Iran.
Hajizadeh said, “All missiles were successfully launched at designated targets in the Semnan desert and all hit their targets.”
Hajizadeh added that after the missiles were fired at their targets, IRGC fighter jets also launched missiles at designated targets and then unmanned aircraft carried out operations, all as part of the war game.
Mehr reported that the military exercise, dubbed the Great Prophet 7, is aimed to allow experts to assess the precision and efficiency of Iran’s warheads and missile systems.
Reuters reported that the tougher sanctions, which took effect Sunday, ban European Union states from importing Iranian oil, among other measures. They were enacted earlier this year in a bid to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium in its suspected nuclear weapons program.
The EU initiated its much anticipated embargo on Iranian crude oil imports and its prohibition on insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil.
The sanctions come days before talks restart between Iran and the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. The meetings are intended to find a compromise that would enable monitoring of the Iran’s nuclear facilities, which much of the West believes masks a clandestine effort to make nuclear weapons.
Following the EU’s action, the White House released a statement in support of the EU oil embargo.
“This action is an essential part of our concerted diplomatic efforts to present Iran with a clear choice between isolation or meetings its obligations,” the White House said. “Iran has an opportunity to pursue substantive negotiations, beginning with expert level talks this week in Istanbul, and must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear activities.”
Also, the Obama administration has begun prohibiting business with companies that continue to conduct oil transactions with the Central Bank of Iran. The sanctions, which were passed by the U.S. Senate in December by a vote of 100-0, went into force last week.
JTA contributed to this report.
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