Friday 18 October 2019

Tehran shows off its long-range missile in clear warning to US

Iran tells Western forces they should 'stay away' from the Gulf to increase stability in the region

Hassan Rouhani said the presence of foreign troops in the region had always brought
Hassan Rouhani said the presence of foreign troops in the region had always brought "pain and misery." Image: Iranian Presidency Office via AP

Josie Ensor

Iran's president has warned America and other foreign forces to "stay away" from the Gulf, as Tehran paraded a long-range missile capable of reaching American bases.

Hassan Rouhani said the presence of foreign troops in the region had always brought "pain and misery", in a speech at a military parade to commemorate the war with Iraq.

He spoke in response to an announcement by the US that it was sending more troops to Saudi Arabia after an attack on Saudi oil facilities, which it blamed on Iran.

"Wherever the Americans or our enemies have gone, there has been insecurity afterward," he said. "The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be."

At the parade, Iran displayed the Khordad 3 air defence system that shot down a US drone in June, and the surface-to-air Bavar 373 missile that can travel more than 2,000km, putting US bases and Israel within its range.

Saudi Arabia and the US accuse Iran of attacking Saudi oil facilities on September 14 in the biggest such assault on the world's top oil exporter.

Iran denies involvement but the attack was claimed by the Tehran-aligned Houthi movement fighting a Saudi-led alliance in the civil war in Yemen.

Riyadh says it has evidence Iranian missiles were used and launched from the north, but has not gone so far as to say they came from Iranian territory. President Donald Trump has said America will protect Saudi Arabia, but will take its cue from Riyadh.

Should the accusation be proved, it would mark such a serious escalation in the long-running conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran that the former could be forced to retaliate.

"We hold Iran responsible because the missiles and drones were Iranian-built and Iranian-delivered," said Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs.

"But to launch an attack from your territory, if that is the case, puts us in a different category... this would be considered an act of war."

Both sides are hoping to make their case to the United Nations General Assembly this week. Mr Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will travel to New York today to present a Gulf "security plan". It is unclear what this will look like, with Mr Rouhani saying only that peace in the Strait of Hormuz could be achieved "in co-operation with various countries".

The US already leads a maritime coalition protecting one of the world's key oil trade routes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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