Missiles are a message to United States, Iran says

Feb. 11, 2014 at 11:14 AM

TEHRAN, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The test-firing of two ballistic missiles was meant as a direct response to saber-rattling by the U.S. government, Iran's defense minister said Tuesday.

The Iranian Defense Ministry said Monday it tested surface-to-surface and air-to-surface ballistic missiles. Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan said the missiles were meant as a message to the United States.

"Testing the missiles was a clear response to the U.S. officials' worn-out phrase 'the military option is on the table,'" the brigadier general was quoted by the semiofficial Fars News Agency as saying.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a Jan. 23 interview with al-Arabiya the military option "is available" if Iran reneges on an interim nuclear agreement.

U.S. Navy Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted by CNN as saying Iran's missile program is something "we monitor closely."

Iran, under the terms of a November agreement reached with Western powers, agreed to curb its nuclear enrichment activity in exchange for relief from some economic sanctions.

Iran says its nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency said this week it was asking Iran for more information on its work on a type of detonator used in nuclear devices.

Iran and members of the so-called P5+1 -- the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany -- are scheduled to sit down at the negotiating table Feb. 18 in Vienna to discuss progress made on the interim nuclear deal.

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