Iran’s supposed missile launch was fake, U.S. officials say

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Iran’s claim that it had successfully launched a new type of medium-range ballistic missile was fake, the United States has concluded, saying that footage which aired on state television over the weekend was nearly 8 months old.

Iranian news agencies reported on Saturday that the country had test-fired a missile from an undisclosed location. The reports did not specifically note the time and date of the launch, but they strongly implied that it came just hours after the missile was unveiled during a military parade in Tehran.

Two U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday that Iran had not fired any ballistic missiles. Rather, the footage which aired on state-run television on Saturday is believed to be from a failed missile launch in late January, when a missile exploded shortly after take-off.

It was not immediately clear why it took the United States two days to deny that a missile had been launched, particularly after President Donald Trump took to Twitter and seemingly confirmed that the missile launch had in fact taken place.

“Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel,” Trump said in a post on Twitter on late Sunday afternoon. “They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”

Iran unveiled a new type of ballistic missile – called Khorramshahr – during a military parade in Tehran on Friday as the country marked the start of Sacred Defense Week, which is an annual commemoration of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The parade was attended by President Hassan Rouhani.

Iranian news agencies said the missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and is capable of carrying several warheads, which would make it a medium-range missile. A senior military official told state media that the missile was smaller in size and more tactical when compared to previous missiles.

During Friday’s event, Rouhani vowed to strengthen Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities despite warnings from the United States. “We will promote our defensive and military power as much as we deem necessary. We seek no one’s permission to defend our land,” he said.

The developments come at a time of rising tensions with the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated that he is considering to pull the U.S. out of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, even though all parties confirm that Iran has complied with the deal’s requirements.

Trump, while addressing world leaders at the United Nations last week, accused Iran of funding terrorism and working to undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program,” the U.S. president said.

Trump added: “The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it – believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”

Trump has until October 15 to decide whether to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal. If he chooses to decertify, it would trigger a 60-day window for lawmakers to determine whether to reimpose U.S. sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program. Those sanctions were lifted under the 2015 agreement, which did not address Iran’s missile program.

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