DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 9, (AP): Iran test-fi red two ballistic missiles Wednesday with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written in Hebrew on them, state media reported, a show of strength by the Islamic Republic as US Vice- President Joe Biden visited Israel.
The new missile fi rings — the latest in a series of tests in recent days — appeared aimed at demonstrating Iran will push ahead with its ballistic program after scaling backing its nuclear program under the deal reached last year with the US and other world powers. Hard-liners in Iran’s military have fired rockets and missiles despite US objections since the deal, as well as shown underground missile bases on state television.
There was no immediate reaction from Jerusalem, where Biden was meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly opposed the nuclear deal. Biden, speaking next to Netanyahu, did not acknowledge the missile launch directly but he issued a strong warning to the Iranians.
“A nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and the United States. And I want to reiterate which I know people still doubt here. If in fact they break the deal, we will act,” he said. The semiofficial Fars news agency offered pictures Wednesday it said were of the Qadr H missiles being fired. It said they were fired in Iran’s eastern Alborz mountain range to hit a target some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away off Iran’s coast into the Sea of Oman. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols that region, declined to comment on the test. Fars and state media reported the Hebrew inscription on the missiles.
Similar phrases have been emblazoned on Iranian missiles before. Soldiers often write slogans or messages on rockets and missiles. During Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants, Israeli children were photographed writing messages on artillery shells in a community near the border. More recently, pictures emerged online of US missiles bound for Islamic State group targets that had “From Paris with love” written on them, referring to last year’s attacks. Fars quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, as saying the test was aimed at showing Israel that Iran could hit it. “The 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime,” Hajizadeh said. “Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war.
It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to immediately comment. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel in the past. Israel, which is believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Mideast, repeatedly has threatened to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hajizadeh stressed that Iran would not fire the missiles in anger or start a war with Israel