Iran has reportedly test-fired two ballistic missiles with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on them in Hebrew, a show of force by the Islamic Republic as US vice-president Joe Biden visits Israel.
Such phrases have been emblazoned on Iranian missiles before, but this test comes shortly after the implementation of a nuclear deal with world powers, including the US, and follows similar drills in recent days.
Hard-liners in Iran’s military have fired rockets and missiles despite US objections since the deal, as well as showing underground missile bases on state television.
There was no immediate reaction from Jerusalem, where Mr Biden was meeting prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has strongly opposed the nuclear deal.
Mr Biden, speaking next to Mr Netanyahu, did not acknowledge the missile launch directly but he issued a strong warning to Iran.
“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 semi-official Fars news agency offered pictures it said were of the Qadr H missiles being firedin Iran’s eastern Alborz mountain range to hit a target 870 miles away off in the Sea of Oman. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols that region, declined to comment. Soldiers often write slogans or messages on rockets and missiles. US missiles targeting Islamic State have been shown online with the slogan “From Paris with love” written on them, referring to last year’s terror 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 1,240-mile range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime,” Mr 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.