Iran test fires new surface to air missile
It's supposed to be radar evading and jam-proof, but that remains to be seen. They're calling it Mehrab, or Altar, and they claim it's home grown - probably with the help of North Korea who is known to have missile experts assisting the Iranians with other projects.
Iran's state TV said the missile, named Mehrab, or Altar, is designed to evade radar and was developed by Iranian scientists. The report said the missile was tested Sunday but provided no further details.
A leading Iranian lawmaker said the sea maneuvers serve as practice for closing the Strait of Hormuz if the West blocks Iran's oil sales. After top Iranian officials made the same threat a week ago, military commanders emphasized that Iran has no intention of blocking the waterway now.
The exercise covers a 1,250-mile (2,000-kilometer) stretch of water beyond the Strait of Hormuz, including parts of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
The drill, which could bring Iranian ships into proximity with U.S. Navy vessels that operate in the same area, is Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its nuclear program. The West fears Iran's program aims to develop atomic weapons -- a charge Tehran denies, insisting it's for peaceful purposes only.
The 10-day exercise drew significant attention after the Iranian warnings about closing the strait. Iranian military officials later appeared to back away from that threat.
A spokesman for the exercise, Rear Adm. Mahmoud Mousavi, made a similar conciliatory comment on Sunday.
"We won't disrupt traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. We are not after this," the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.
As with most Iranian statements, that last one was contradicted by an Iranian lawmaker who said that the naval exercises were practice for closing the Straits. It's one of the major problems in gleaning Iranian intent since the government is so riven by factions who constantly say different things to the press about the nation's policies.
In other news, Iran claims to have built and tested a nuclear fuel rod which would be a significant technological achievement. It would also show that it could build it's own small nuclear reactor in order to process uranium into plutonium without anyone knowing it. At present, Iran purchases its fuel rods from Russia who has agreed to take them back when spent in order to prevent Iran from turning the processed uranium into plutonium. An independent fuel rod capability is worrisome - not now, but certainly down the road.