(Adds official comments, background)
By Parisa Hafezi
ANKARA Feb 10 Iran's military has successfully
test-fired two new domestically made missiles, the defence
minister said on Monday according to state television, ahead of
talks with world powers to try to reach an agreement on curbing
Tehran's nuclear programme.
Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said one of them was a
long-range ballistic missile with radar-evading capabilities.
"The new generation of long-range ground-to-ground ballistic
missile with a fragmentation warhead and the laser-guided
air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile dubbed Bina
(Insightful) have been successfully test-fired," state
television quoted him as saying.
"The Bina missile is capable of striking important targets
such as bridges, tanks and enemy command centres with great
Iran already has long-range surface-to-surface Shahab
missiles with a range of about 2,000 km (1,250 miles) that are
capable of reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the Middle
East. However, analysts have challenged some of Iran's military
assertions, saying it often exaggerates its capabilities.
President Hassan Rouhani issued a congratulatory message
saying: "Iran's children successfully test-fired a new
generation of missiles," the television reported.
The decision to carry out the test may be a sign of Iran's
political infighting. Rouhani was criticised by a group of
hardline lawmakers on Sunday for blocking a planned missile
exercise. However, it was not immediately clear whether the test
on Monday was the same one.
Iran and six world powers struck an interim deal in November
under which Tehran agreed to limit parts of its nuclear work in
return for the easing of some international sanctions.
Hardliners, irked by the foreign policy shift since Rouhani
was elected in June, have repeatedly criticised the deal. Iran's
most powerful authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
has so far backed the deal.
Iran and the six powers will start negotiating a full
agreement in Vienna on Feb. 18. Easing of sanctions, imposed on
Iran over its nuclear activities, began in late January.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and the lead
U.S. negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman told a Senate hearing
last week that Iran's ballistic missile programme would be
addressed as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal.
Iran's deputy foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator
said Tehran had no intention of discussing its ballistic missile
programme with major powers.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran's defensive issues are neither
negotiable nor subject to compromise. They are definitely among
our red lines in any talks," Abbas Araqchi told state TV on
"We will not discuss any issue other than the nuclear
dossier in the negotiations."
Iran rejects Western fears that its nuclear work has
military intentions and says it needs nuclear power for
electricity generation and medical research.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), on Monday signalled its determination to get to
the bottom of suspicions that Iran may have worked on designing
an atomic bomb.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Janet Lawrence)