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Iran tests new missiles despite US warnings

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has test-fired two more missiles after the US threatened sanctions over earlier launches. The rockets were "designed" to be able to reach Israel, an Iranian agency quoted a general as saying.

The "precision missiles" destroyed targets some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away, General Hossein Salami told Iranian media on Wednesday.

Iran maintains dozens of short- and medium-range ballistic projectiles - more than any other country in the Middle East.

"The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles) is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency.

Another Iranian agency, Fars, offered pictures it said were of the weapons being fired, showing rockets with the phrase "Israel must be wiped out" written on them.

Biden in Israel

Iran Abschuss Emad Ballistische Rakete

The army fired the rockets from northern Iran to the southeast of the country

The Wednesday launches

continue the series of tests

from previous days, which sparked criticism from Israel's main ally, the United States.

The US plans to raise the issue before the United Nations Security Council, with members of the Republican-led Congress pushing for more unilateral sanctions against Iran.

Also, the rocket launches coincide with US Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Israel. Biden is there to discuss regional issues and

reaffirm US commitment to Israel's security.

Last week, the two armies concluded a joint missile defense drill in Israel.

However, Washington says that recent missile tests would not violate last year's accord with Iran, which focuses on reining in Tehran's nuclear power program.

Army's show of strength

Iran acknowledges it has surface-to-surface missiles capable of striking Israel and US military installations in the Middle East but denies they are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The country's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps reports directly to religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Despite the recent calming of tensions between Iran and international powers, the Guards remain suspicious of the US and their allies.

dj/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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