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Iran unveils new land-based cruise missile system amid nuclear talks

The "Soumar" is a long-range land-based cruise missile system capable of hitting targets up to 1,500 miles away.
By Fred Lambert Contact the Author   |   March 8, 2015 at 4:53 PM
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TEHRAN, March 8 (UPI) -- Iran revealed a new land-based, long-range missile system on Sunday, three days after its foreign minister said negotiations with the United States involving Iran's nuclear program "have made good progress."

The "Soumar," a cruise missile system capable of hitting land targets up to 1,500 miles away, was unveiled in a ceremony in Tehran attended by senior Iranian defense officials.

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Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said the system "enjoys different characteristics in terms of range and pinpoint accuracy in comparison with the previous products," advancements he considers "crucial steps toward increasing the country's defense and deterrence might."

The unveiling comes during talks with the West over Iran's nuclear program that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called "difficult." The negotiations aim to restrain Iran's nuclear capability in return for a drop of economic sanctions against the country.

On March 2, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said sanctions on his country should be "lifted all at once" because of its commitment to the talks.

In a speech to the U.S. Congress the next day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "This deal won't change Iran for the better. It will only change the Middle East for the worse."

President Barack Obama said Netanyahu's speech "offered no viable alternatives" to a deal with Iran and promised to veto any legislation Congress passes "that threatens to undo" progress in the talks.

On March 4 negotiations resumed, and on March 5 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said they had made "good progress" but that there was still a "long way to go."

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, on Saturday called Israel, whose capital Jerusalem lies just over 1,100 miles from Tehran, an "illegitimate state." According to Mehr News, he said Israel was aware of its imminent downfall since missiles from militant Lebanese group Hezbollah now covered the range of Palestinian territories.

Late last month Iran's Revolutionary Guards blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier during wargames in the Strait of Hormuz. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Guard's chief commander, told Iranian media the purpose of the drills "is that others should pay good heed to the point that they should not take any action near the Islamic Republic's security circle."

The unveiling of the Soumar also comes at the same time Saudi Arabia, whose Sunni Muslim kingdom is seen as a counterweight to Shia Iran, takes the world lead in arms imports.

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