IRAN has successfully test-fired its long-range surface-to-air S-200 missile as its air defence drills enter the final phase in the country’s southern belt.
Wednesday marked the third and final day of Modafean-e-Aseman-e-Velayat 7 (The Defenders of Velayat Skies 7) wargames featuring Iran’s Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). Military commanders from either force came together in the city of Bushehr before S-200 was successfully fired at its designated target on the back of relevant detection and tracking activity.
The day also witnessed the enlisted forces deploying missile defence systems against mock hostile aircraft as per schedule. In the morning phase of the exercises, the participating forces debuted the Talash (Endeavour) missile defence system on the southern Khark Island to destroy mock intruding drones.
To eliminate the aircraft, which transpired in under a second, the apparatus had to be operated in tandem with the Ofoq (Horizon) Airborne Fire-Control Radar (AFCR). Elsewhere on the island, various other missile systems, including Mersad (Ambush), were deployed to annihilate mock aggressive aircraft using medium-range missiles.
The manoeuvres’ spokesman Second Head of Brigade Abbas Farajpour said – despite prior warning, which had been issued to foreign and domestic aircraft to avoid the drills’ general area – aircraft belonging to extra-regional forces had to be warned away again on 12 occasions during the drills.
The manoeuvres took place over an area measuring 496,000 square kilometres throughout Iran’s southern, southeastern, and southwestern parts, the skies above which constitute the country’s most frequented ones. They involved around 17,000 military personnel. They sought to hone coordination among the different divisions of the Armed Forces employed to defend the country’s airspace.
The second day witnessed the recruits practicing high-precision targeting against mock invasive aircraft. It also featured first-ever application of the long-range aerospace telecommunications system named Aseman (Sky), which provided sustainable contact among the elements of the drill over a range of 150 kilometres.
During the first day’s escapades, various defensive apparatuses were successfully scrambled to designated positions in record time. The forces also tried their hands at intelligence gathering and electronic warfare. Also debuting during the drills was the Jabbar (Authoritative) Smoke Generation System, which was used to create smokescreen complicating the mock enemy’s observation of action stations. Having successfully attained all its designated targets, the manoeuvres concluded with a parade of the select best-performing units, which had rendered their services to the event.
• Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran says sharing nuclear know-how with neighbouring countries will pave the way for regional developments. Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Behrouz Kamalvandi noted that Iran’s nuclear capabilities will help take a long step in the development of the region in the fields of science and medicine through sharing the technical know-how with the neighbouring countries.
‘By relying on its nuclear capacities, Iran can further promote ties with the regional countries,’ Kamalvandi said. We should develop the nuclear industry further and apply it to other sectors, including healthcare, medicine, agriculture and industry,’ Kamalvandi added.
The spokesperson also underlined that there are few countries which can help Iran to further develop its nuclear sector. The Islamic Republic maintains good ties with the nuclear-capable countries, including Japan, South Korea, Russia, China, as well as European countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Spain,’ he said.
Earlier, Kamalvandi announced that new customers, other than the US and Russia, have voiced willingness to purchase the high-quality heavy water produced by Iranian scientists. Noting that Iran’s high-quality heavy water has serious customers, he said, ‘I think that we can sign new contracts other than what we sold to the US and Russia; and the new customers are mostly the Europeans.’ Iran delivered 38 metric tons of heavy water to Russia in September. Also, in July, the country exported 32 tons of heavy water to the US.
• A bitter dispute between Iran and Turkmenistan over gas prices risks the cancellation of a major deal, which could see the Central Asian nation lose its biggest customer. Turkmenistan has threatened to stop the gas flow across the border if Iran does not settle a debt which it claims remains outstanding from previous imports.
Ashgabat claims Iran owes it $1.8 billion from sales between 2007 and 2008 when freezing winters led to severe shortages across 20 Iranian provinces, forcing the country to raise gas imports from its northeastern neighbour. At the time, Turkmenistan pounced on the occasion to demand a nine-fold hike which yanked the price up to $360 from $40 for every 1,000 cubic metres of gas.
According to Turkmen officials, the balance has built up to a debt of $1.8 billion which Iran is rejecting and has threatened to take the case to international arbitration. Iran holds the world’s biggest gas reserves but they are mostly located in the country’s south, making the country reliant on its neighbours for supplies in the northern provinces.
A recent drop in temperatures across Iran has prompted Turkmen authorities to threaten a halt to the gas flow unless the Islamic Republic clears the alleged debt. Iranian media say the country can weather a full stop to the gas flow from Turkmenistan by completing pipe laying in the country’s north and temporary diverting of the gas used in industries to homes.
Iran currently imports about 35-40 million cubic metres a day of gas from Turkmenistan under a deal which has stood for the past 20 years. Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has announced that if Turmens insisted on halting the gas flow, Iran would stop its energy dealings with the country, IRNA said on Wednesday.
‘According to experts, Ashgabat would be the biggest loser of this dispute,’ the news agency added. Turkmenistan is a landlocked nation and its shipment of gas to international markets has to go through the neighbours, including Iran.
A fallout with Iran would deprive Turkmenistan not only of its biggest customer but a valuable route for transit or swap of gas to markets in the subcontinent, the Persian Gulf, Europe and beyond.