(Reuters) -War games conducted this week by Iran in the Gulf were intended to send a warning to Israel, the country’s top military commanders said on Friday, amid concerns over possible Israeli plans to target Iranian nuclear sites.
The Revolutionary Guards’ war games included firing ballistic and cruise missiles. State television showed missiles flattening a target which resembled Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor at the conclusion of the exercises on Friday.
“Through a simulation of the Dimona atomic facilities, the Revolutionary Guards successfully practiced attacking this critical centre of the Zionist regime in its missile exercise,” the semi-official news agency Tasnim said.
“These exercises had a very clear message: a serious, real … warning to threats by the Zionist regime’s authorities to beware of their mistakes,” Guards chief General Hossein Salami said on state TV.
“We will cut off their hands if they make a wrong move. … The distance between actual operations and military exercises is only a change in the angles of launching the missiles,” Salami added.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri said 16 ballistic missiles of different classes had been fired simultaneously and had destroyed predetermined targets.
Britain condemned the launch of ballistic missiles during the war games.
“These actions are a threat to regional and international security, and we call on Iran to immediately cease its activities,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, rejected the British statement as “meddling in Iran’s defensive capacity,” state media said.
Iran says its ballistic missiles have a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles) and are capable of reaching arch-foe Israel and U.S. bases in the region.
Iran has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, regarding such weapons as an important deterrent and retaliatory force against U.S. and other adversaries in the event of war.
Israel, which opposes efforts by world powers to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, has long threatened military action if diplomacy fails. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz has called on world powers not to allow Iran to play for time at the nuclear negotiations, in recess at Iran’s request and scheduled to resume next Monday.
Israel is widely believed to be the only Middle Eastern country with a nuclear arsenal.
(mailto:[email protected] by Gareth Jones, Hugh Lawson and Leslie Adler)