TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran, whose nuclear dispute with the West has raised the possibility of new regional conflict, has developed a short-range defence system to combat Cruise missiles, its defence minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
“A new short range anti-Cruise defence system with the capability to fire 4,000 rounds of bullets per minute has been produced at the defence ministry and soon will be inaugurated,” Ahmad Vahidi said on semi-official Fars news agency. “We are at the design and production phase of various defence systems in the short, medium and long-range categories,” he added, citing the Mersad air defence and Shahin missile defence systems.
Cruise missiles are guided missiles that operate at low level to evade radar detection. They can fly up to supersonic speeds carrying either conventional or nuclear warheads.
The U.S. administration said last month that Iran and North Korea were excluded from new limits on the use of U.S. atomic weapons — something Tehran interpreted as a threat from a long-standing adversary to attack it with nuclear bombs.
Though the Islamic Republic seeks self-sufficiency in missile defence, it is urging Russia to resist Western pressure not to deliver the S-300 missile defence system it has ordered.
Washington is pressing other global powers to agree to a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Iran denies.
Iran held military exercises in the Gulf waterway and Strait of Hormuz last month in an apparent bid to show its readiness for any attack by Israel or the United States.
Analysts said it was also a message to U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states, which offer military facilities to U.S. forces.
Iran has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz. About 40 percent of the world’s traded oil leaves the Gulf region through the strategic narrows.