The military muscle-flexing was designed to show Iran could cause global economic havoc by disrupting shipping in the strategic waterway at the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, the world’s key oil export artery.
Iran’s sabre-rattling was probably to strengthen its bargaining position ahead of possible new talks about its nuclear activities, which the West believes are aimed at weapons development, a charge Tehran denies.
A report on state-run television declared that one of the missiles fired was a radar-evading, home-built shore-to-ship cruise missile called Qader (“Capable”). Another was a surface-to-surface missile called Nour (“Light”), based on a Chinese design.
However, there was no sign Iran had attempted to repeat its 2009 test-firing of the Shahab-3, a strategic intermediate range surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can reach targets up to 625 miles away, putting US regional military bases in its strike range. Iran’s arsenal also includes missiles with a range of up to 2,400km that could hit Israel.
Tehran’s aim instead was seemingly to demonstrate its ability to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a high-risk move that could trigger a military conflict with Western powers – the US Fifth Fleet is based in the area.