On Tuesday, Iran test-fired in its central desert a ballistic missile capable of striking Israel. The test was reportedly part of war games designed to show its ability to retaliate if attacked.
Dozens of missiles were launched in what Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) calls "The Great Prophet 7" drill. The missiles "targeted and destroyed hypothetical bases of ultra-regional forces set up in desert areas," according to Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency. The reports did not identify the "ultra-regional forces" but the media is reporting that the bases are similar to U.S. bases in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
"The main aim of this drill was to demonstrate the Iranian nation's political resolve to defend [its] vital values and national interests," IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said, according to another state-run news outlet, Press TV. Press TV paraphrased Salami's description of the drills as a "firm response to those who threaten Iran with the option of military action."
The United States and Israel have been locked in a struggle with Iran over its nuclear enrichment program and the leaders of both the Israeli and American governments have said that any option — including military action — was "on the table" should it become clear Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Iranian officials have denied the nation seeks nuclear weapons and said Iran is only enriching uranium for domestic nuclear power purposes.
Iranian lawmakers are debating whether or not to shut down the Strait of Hormuz in protest over new Western oil sanctions over the development of its nuclear program. Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is strictly peaceful, but the West has continued hitting the country with more sanctions in an effort to force it to abandon the program. On Sunday, the EU imposed its sanctions, establishing a bloc-wide embargo on all Iranian crude oil imports, and preventing EU companies from providing insurance to tankers carrying Iranian oil.
The US also slammed Iran with new sanctions last Thursday, reinforcing restrictions on foreign companies doing business with Iran's central bank unless their nations were granted exemptions on the basis of reduced Iranian oil supply.