TEHRAN Iran said on Saturday it test-fired two long-range missiles into the Indian Ocean earlier this year, the first time it has fired missiles into that sea, according to state television.
"In the month of Bahman (Jan 21-Feb 19) two missiles with a range of 1,900 km (1,180 miles) were fired from Semnan province(in northern Iran) into the mouth of the Indian Ocean," Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, told a news conference some of which was shown on television.
Iran usually tests its missiles in extensive deserts in the heart of the country, so the firing into the Indian Ocean is an unusual move, aimed to prove Tehran's longstanding claims it can hit targets beyond its borders.
Television showed a missile being fired but the announcer did not specify if the pictures were of the Indian Ocean test-firing. No pictures were shown of a target being hit at sea.
The announcement came after a 10-day military exercise by the elite Guards that was designed to deter Iran's enemies by showing Iran is ready and able to hit back at U.S. bases in the Middle East and at Israel.
The United States and Israel have not ruled out military strikes on Iran if necessary to stop it getting nuclear weapons.
Iran says it has home-made missiles with a range of 2,000 km, designed specifically to hit U.S. interests and Israel.[ID:nMOS838866] But it denies it is seeking nuclear bombs and the means to deliver them. [ID:nHAF945068]
Analysts have often doubted Iran's claims of technological progress in its defense industry which is under tight international sanctions due to western concerns it is seeking nuclear weapons capability.
Hajizadeh said U.S. spy planes were operating in the area where the missiles hit. "It is interesting that they did not publicize it," he said.
(Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Louise Ireland)