Iran's Claim it Test-Fired Anti-Warship Missiles Brings New Concerns, Questions

Iran test-fired what it calls a supersonic ballistic surface-to-sea missile Monday in a dramatic ceremony that saw the missile crash into a ship that went up in smoke.

It’s being called anti-destroyer, anti-warship and radar evading, with a range of 300 kilometers, or 186 miles.

Brig. Gen. Ali Jafari, Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, described the new hardware.

“These missiles are ultrasonic and can never be detected and intercepted by the enemies. The result of these defense projects is a very long leap in maintaining the security of the country in the sky and in the sea.”

This, just a day after the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned they would close the Strait of Hormuz if Iran were to be threatened.

Forty percent of all oil shipments transit the strait, which is basically the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman Lt. Fred Martin, from his post in Bahrain, told Fox News, “Threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz is counter-productive. An enormous amount of shipping travels through the strait on a daily basis.”

The test launch also comes a day after Iran introduced new satellites, which it said were domestically produced. It would only say that they were scientific, for research. But the very thought of Iran launching these satellites into space, which presumably it will do, makes experts believe it is simultaneously improving its missile capability as the same sort of delivery systems that are used for satellites and weapons.

There is no way to verify that the missiles shown in the video are genuine, and as effective as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards claims. All a Pentagon spokesman would say was, "I recommend you contact Iran with questions about their weapons programs. We are comfortable with our security posture and hope Iran will be a positive neighbor in the region."

Dr. Ali Nourizadeh, of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, said he doesn’t trust Iranian claims. “Every now and then they get the idea of testing new missiles, and once we discovered that they had used photo-shop to show seven missiles simultaneously.”

Nourizadeh claims Iran gets its missiles from the black market, and modifies many of them to look Iranian-made. Nourizadeh says that not only does Iran exaggerate its capabilities, but also the mysterious explosion at the Imam Ali military base in October that destroyed 30-40% of its missile capacity. Fox News is unable to confirm what happened in that incident. Iran has played down the effects of the explosion and fire while more independent sources consider that someone wanted to take Iran’s missiles out.

Meir Javandefar, author of “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran” says the test-firing shows it’s a sign that Iran takes the threats against its nuclear facilities seriously.

Since Russia canceled its sale of S-300 air defense missiles, Iran has been stepping up its indigenous efforts to protect its nuclear installations.

Of course the consensus among Iran watchers is that the Iranian people would be much happier about measures to boost Iran’s economy. But a small segment of the population will be pleased to see Tehran showing off its deterrent, or perceived deterrent, power.