Iran successfully tested its second new torpedo in as many days Monday, the
latest weapon to be unveiled during war games in the Gulf that the military said
are aimed at preparing the country's defenses against the United States.
Photo released on
Monday April 3, 2006 shows a test firing of a Fajr-3 missile fired by Iran
in the Persian Gulf on April 1, 2006. Iran conducted its second major test
of a new missile within days, firing a high-speed torpedo that it said no
submarine or warship can escape and boasting of its strength at a time of
increased tensions with the United States over its nuclear program.The
tests Sunday came during war games that Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards
have been holding in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea since Friday.
A spokesman for the elite Revolutionary Guards suggested the new,
Iranian-made torpedo was more powerful and capable of going deeper than others
in its arsenal.
Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani told state television the ship-launched weapon
can target submarines at any depth and is powerful enough to "break a heavy
warship" in two. He did not give the name of the new torpedo or any details of
its speed or range.
The torpedo was tested in the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow entrance of the
Gulf and a vital corridor for oil supplies.
The United States said that while Iran may have made "some strides" in its
military, it is likely to be exaggerating its capabilities.
"We know that the Iranians are always trying to improve their weapons system
by both foreign and indigenous measures," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said
in Washington. "It's possible that they are increasing their capability and
making strides in radar absorbing materials and technology."
But "the Iranians have also been known to boast and exaggerate their
statements about greater technical and tactical capabilities," he said.
The Revolutionary Guards, the elite branch of Iran's military, have been
holding their maneuvers ¡ª codenamed the "Great Prophet" ¡ª since Friday, touting
what they call domestically built technological advances in their armed forces.
A day earlier, Iran announced it had tested a different new torpedo ¡ª the
high-speed "Hoot," which means "whale." Iran said the Hoot, moving at up to 223
mph, was too fast for any enemy ship to elude. On Friday, it tested the Fajr-3,
a missile that it said can avoid radars and hit several targets simultaneously
using multiple warheads.
It has not been possible to verify Iran's claims for the new armaments. But
the country has made clear it aims to send a message of strength to the United
States amid heightened tensions over Iran's nuclear program.
A top Guards commander, Gen. Hossein Kargar, said Monday the maneuver aims at
preparing the troops in case of attack by the United States ¡ª often referred to
by Iran's clerical regime as "the global arrogance."
"Regarding the threats by the global arrogance, defensive preparation is a
task of the armed forces," Kargar was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as
Many in Iran worry over the possibility of U.S. military action in the
escalating dispute over Iran's nuclear program, an option Washington has refused
to rule out. The United States is pushing for U.N. sanctions against Iran,
accusing it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Tehran denies the claim, saying its program aims to generate electricity, and
it has so far rejected a demand by the U.N. Security Council that it give up
uranium enrichment, a key part of the nuclear process that can produce either
fuel for a reactor or material for a warhead.
Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday the United States
and Europe were "confused" if they thought they could stop Iran's nuclear
Speaking after talks with Guinea's foreign minister, he said Iran would
pursue its right to develop nuclear energy but vowed its program would be
"transparent" and under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
More than 17,000 Revolutionary Guards forces, along with some 1,500 warships,
boats and aircraft are taking part in the weeklong maneuvers in a 100,000 square
mile area of the Gulf.
After decades of relying on foreign weapons purchases, Iran's military has
been working to boost its domestic production of armaments. Since 1992, Iran has
produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter
plane. It announced in early 2005 that it had begun production of torpedoes,
though it was not clear if the ones tested during the maneuvers were the first
to be put into action.
Iran bought three Russian Kilo-class submarines in the 1980s and has since
said it is producing its own smaller-sized subs, at least two of which are
believed to have been built and put in the country's fleet.
The United States and its Western allies have been watching in Iran's
progress in missile capabilities with concern. Iran already possesses the
Shahab-3 missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and hitting U.S forces
in the Middle East and Israel.
Ali Ansari, an Iran specialist at Britain's Royal Institute for International
Affairs, cautioned that there is likely "a little bit of bluster" in Iran's
claims for its new weapons.
"They're trying to impress," he told The Associated Press. They aim to "prove
to the West that they can hit Israel and close the Straits of Hormuz. They're
saying if you hit us, then we can hit back."
Iran's leaders also want to reassure Iranians the country can defend itself.
"There's a lot of worry (among the public) over what direction the country is
taking, and they want to show that Iran can hold its own against the