Iran says war games in Gulf were meant to be warning to Israel

State television showed missiles hitting target that resembled an Israeli nuclear reactor

A missile is launched during an Iranian military exercise on December 22, 2021. Photo: Reuters
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War games conducted by Iran in the Gulf this week were intended to send a warning to Israel, the country's top military commanders said on Friday, amid concerns over possible Israeli plans to attack Iranian nuclear sites.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps war games included the firing of ballistic and cruise missiles, Reuters reported.

Iranian state television showed missiles destroying a target that resembled a nuclear reactor near the Israeli city of Dimona.

"Through a simulation of the Dimona atomic facilities, the Revolutionary Guards successfully practised attacking this critical centre of the Zionist regime in its missile exercise," the semi-official Tasnim news agency said.

IRGC chief Gen Hossein Salami told state television: "These exercises had a very clear message: a serious, real ... warning to threats by the Zionist regime's authorities to beware of their mistakes.

"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."

Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri said 16 ballistic missiles of different classes had been fired simultaneously and had destroyed their targets.

The UK 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.

Iran's Foreign Ministry rejected the British statement as "meddling in Iran's defensive capacity", state media reported.

Iran says its ballistic missiles have a range of 2,000 kilometres and are capable of reaching Israel and US bases in the region.

Tehran has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, regarding such weapons as an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the US 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 nuclear negotiations being held in Vienna, which are in recess at Iran's request and scheduled to resume on Monday.

Updated: December 25, 2021, 10:50 AM