Iran reportedly test-fired two ballistic missiles Wednesday with the phrase "Israel must be wiped out" written in Hebrew on them, but authorities said that the tests do not violate the nuclear deal reached in January.
The tests came as Vice President Joe Biden visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was strongly opposed to the nuke deal.
“I want to reiterate because I know people still doubt: If in fact they break the deal, we will act,” Biden said in Jerusalem.
The semiofficial Fars news agency offered pictures Wednesday it said were of the Qadr H missiles being fired. It said they were fired in Iran's eastern Alborz mountain range to hit a target some 870 miles away off Iran's coast into the Sea of Oman.
Hard-liners in Iran's military have fired rockets and missiles despite U.S. objections since the deal, as well as shown underground missile bases on state television.
“The missiles fired today are the results of sanctions,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, a deputy commander of the Guards told Fars news agency, according to the BBC. “The sanctions helped Iran develop its missile program.”
There was no immediate reaction from Jerusalem, where Biden was scheduled to speak to Netanyahu.
The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which patrols that region, declined to comment on the test. Fars quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division, saying the test was aimed at showing Israel that Iran could hit it.
Iranian state television showed one of the missiles being fired from an underground silo sometime overnight, Reuters reported.
"The 1,240-mile range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime," Hajizadeh said. "Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles."
Israel's Foreign Ministry declined to immediately comment. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel in the past. Israel, which is believed to have the only nuclear weapons arsenal in the Mideast, repeatedly has threatened to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Hajizadeh stressed Iran would not fire the missiles in anger or start a war with Israel.
"We will not be the ones who start a war, but we will not be taken by surprise, so we put our facilities somewhere that our enemies cannot destroy them so that we could continue long war," he said.
The firing of the Qadr H missiles comes after a U.S. State Department spokesman on Tuesday criticized another missile launch that day, saying America planned to bring it before the United Nations Security Council.
A nuclear deal between Iran and world powers including the U.S. is now under way, negotiated by the administration of moderate President Hassan Rouhani. In the time since the deal, however, hard-liners in Iran's military have made several shows of strength.
In October, Iran successfully test-fired a new guided long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile. It was the first such test since Iran and world powers reached a landmark nuclear deal last summer.
U.N. experts said the launch used ballistic missile technology banned under a Security Council resolution. In January, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the ballistic missile program.
Iran also has fired rockets near U.S. warships and flown an unarmed drone over an American aircraft carrier in recent months.
In January, Iran seized 10 U.S. sailors in the Gulf when their two riverine command boats headed from Kuwait to Bahrain ended up in Iranian territorial waters after the crews "misnavigated," the U.S. military said. The sailors were taken to a small port facility on Farsi Island, held for about 15 hours and released after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke several times with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Associated Press contributed to this report