TEHRAN, Iran, (AP) -Iran vowed Sunday to use a new 2,000-pound “smart” bomb against its enemies and unveiled mass production of the new weapon, state television reported.
The government first announced development of the long-range guided bomb Thursday, saying it could be deployed by the country’s aging U.S.-made F-4 and F-5 fighter jets.
“We will use these (bombs) against our enemies when the time comes,” Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said on state television Sunday.
Iran often announces new weapons for its arsenal, but the United States maintains that while the Islamic Republic has made some strides, many of these statements are exaggerations.
The broadcast included a brief clip of a fighter jet apparently dropping one of the bombs, which destroyed a target on the ground.
The defense minister continued his threats as state television showed him unveiling a mass production line for the weapon in Tehran.
“We will use this weapon where we want to … hit enemy’s strategic and defense targets,” Najjar said. “This will be used against our enemies, against those who violate our land and air space.”
Israel said the claim underlines its concerns over Iran’s arms buildup.
“All countries of the Middle East, Israel included, are concerned about expansionist Iranian policies, and about their aggressive military arms buildup,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. “There is no doubt that the regime in Tehran poses a very real threat to the peace and security of the region as a whole.”
The United States and Israel accuse Iran of developing nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies. Iran’s president has said Israel should be wiped off the map and Israel considers Iran its main enemy.
Emanuel Winston, a Middle East analyst at the Houston-based Freeman Center for Strategic Studies, said Thursday that Iran’s smart bomb claim sounded “plausible” but said that it would be less dangerous than a missile development program given the limited range of the country’s aircraft.
Najjar was more aggressive, saying the bomb “remarkably increases Iran’s defense capabilities.”
Iran launched its own arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq in response to a U.S.-led arms embargo. Since 1992, the country has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, and missiles.
Earlier this month, Iran said it had started industrial-scale production of its own fighter jet, known as Azarakhsh or Lightning, to upgrade its elderly air force, much of which dates from before the 1979 revolution.
Iran last year test-fired a “ultra-horizon” missile, two powerful torpedoes and a Fajr-e Darya missile capable of avoiding radars and hitting several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads during large military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.