TEHRAN: Iran unveiled a new underground missile depot on Tuesday with state television showing Emad precision-guided missiles in store which the United States says can take a nuclear warhead and violate a 2010 UN Security Council resolution.
The defiant move to publicise Iran’s missile program seemed certain to irk the United States as it plans to dismantle nearly all sanctions on Iran under a breakthrough nuclear agreement.
Tasnim news agency and state television video said the underground facility, situated in mountains and run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was inaugurated by the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani. Release of one-minute video followed footage of another underground missile depot last October.
The United States says the Emad, which Iran tested in October, would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and US officials say Washington will respond to the Emad tests with fresh sanctions against Iranian individuals and businesses linked to the program.
Iran’s boasting about its missile capabilities are a challenge for US President Barack Obama’s administration as the United States and European Union plan to dismantle nearly all international sanctions against Tehran under the nuclear deal reached in July.
Iran has abided by the main terms of the nuclear deal, which require it to give up material that world powers feared could be used to make an atomic weapon and accept other restrictions on its nuclear program.
But President Hassan Rouhani ordered his defense minister last week to expand the missile program.
The Iranian missiles under development boast much improved accuracy over the current generation, which experts say is likely to improve their effectiveness with conventional warheads.
The Revolutionary Guards’ second-in-command, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, said last Friday that Iran’s depots and underground facilities are so full that they do not know how to store their new missiles.