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Amid Test Launches, Iran Touts Multi-Warhead Missile Capacity

Iranian officials examine air-defense missiles in November. Iran's defense minister on Monday said the nation had successfully tested two new missiles. Iranian officials examine air-defense missiles in November. Iran's defense minister on Monday said the nation had successfully tested two new missiles. (Iranian Students' News Agency/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran on Monday said it "successfully" vetted two new missiles, including one with a multiple-warhead capacity typically associated with nuclear payloads.

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan described the weapon as part of a "new generation of long-range ground-to-ground ballistic missile," Reuters reported from a statement made on Iranian government television.

The missile testing came just days before a planned international talks on Iran's atomic activities.

News agencies carried differing descriptions of the ballistic missile, which they did not identify by name. The Iranian television report quoted Dehqan as saying the missile carries "a fragmentation warhead." However, in Tuesday remarks to the state-run Fars News Agency, he described it as a multiple-reentry vehicle missile capable of "evading enemy’s antimissile defense systems ... destroying massive targets and destroying multiple targets."

Dehqan provided some additional specifics about the other missile tested, according to Reuters. He described the weapon, called "Bina," as a "laser-guided air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile ... capable of striking important targets such as bridges, tanks and enemy command centers."

It was unclear whether either missile was a completely new model or an update of a prior weapon, but references to "new generation" missiles pointed toward the latter possibility, the Associated Press reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani might have attempted to scuttle Monday's trials, a development that could signal a possible dispute between Iranian politicians, according to Reuters. Iranian conservative legislators criticized Rouhani on Sunday for moving to cancel a missile drill, but it was uncertain if they were citing the maneuvers reported the following day.

Nonetheless, Rouhani was reported to have issued a congratulatory statement after the launches: "Iran's children successfully test-fired a new generation of missiles."

The U.S. Defense Department is keeping apprised of statements on the tests, spokesman Adm. John Kirby said in a Tuesday report by CNN.

He noted that a U.N. Security Council resolution bars Iran from performing any activities related to ballistic missiles that would be capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

"Iran's missile program continues to pose a dangerous threat to [the] region, and is an issue we monitor closely," Kirby said.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said his country does not plan to discuss its ballistic-missile activities in an upcoming multilateral discussion of Tehran's disputed nuclear efforts.

In Washington, though, U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman last week said Iran's missiles would be included in any long-term accord on the Middle Eastern nation's suspected pursuit of a nuclear-arms capability. Tehran insists its atomic ambitions are purely civilian in nature.

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