Iran’s advanced S-300 air defense system, delivered by Russia following a July 2015 nuclear deal after years of delay, is now operational, state television reported on Saturday.
Iran had been trying to acquire the system for years to ward off repeated threats by Israel to bomb its nuclear facilities, but Russia had held off delivery in line with UN sanctions imposed over the nuclear program.
“The S-300 air defense system has been tested… in the presence of government and military officials,” the television said.
It said that the test at a desert base had seen several targets, including a ballistic missile and a drone, intercepted.
Iran’s activation of the defense system comes amid mounting tensions with the new US administration of President Donald Trump, who imposed sanctions after Iran tested a medium-range ballistic missile in January.
Russian military expert Viktor Litovkin told Radio Sputnik about the significance of the missile test and why Washington is concerned over Tehran's drills in the Indian Ocean.
The Iranian military has tested a brand new Nasir cruise missile during large-scale naval drills in the Indian Ocean that took place from February 26 until March 1. Commenting on the launch, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said that the cruise missile has hit the specified target with maximum precision.
The final stage of Iran's Velayat 95 drills took place in the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman and North of the Indian Ocean. The area of the drills covered two million square kilometers (over 770,000 square miles).
Various naval units, including submarines, missile-launching destroyers, surface and subsurface units, missile and electronic warfare systems, drones, fighter jets and marines took part in the military exercises. Missile tests, intelligence operations, deployment of submarines and rescue operations were conducted as part of the drills, involving a range of naval equipment including submarines and helicopters manufactured in Iran.
He added that the Iranian Navy is participating in the large-scale drills near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically important "oil corridor" through which lies the main shipping route of Middle Eastern oil export. That's why the drills concern the United States, the expert believes.
"Iran wants to be the dominant country in the Middle Eastern region. Iran has 'an axe to grind' against the US allies [in the region], Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Israel. This annoys the US. Iran conducts exercises near the Strait of Hormuz where oil tankers belonging to the US replenish the supply of fuel. Iran, therefore, demonstrates that it can block this area at any time. Moreover, American warships are always in the Persian Gulf area, where a major US military base is located. Iranian boats have repeatedly approached American frigates and destroyers signaling an attack. Americans don't enjoy it," he explained.
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