TEHRAN: Iran unveiled its new home-grown air defence system on Thursday at a time of increased tensions with the United States.
Iranian officials have previously called Bavar-373 the Islamic republic’s first domestically produced long-range missile defence system.
Tehran began making Bavar – which means “believe” – after the purchase of Russia’s S-300 system was suspended in 2010 due to international sanctions.
President Hassan Rouhani attended the unveiling ceremony for the mobile surface-to-air system and ordered it to be added to Iran’s missile defence network, state news agency IRNA reported.
“The long-range Bavar-373 missile system is suited to Iran’s geography with a range of more than 200 kilometres (124 miles) … and competes with Russian and American systems such as S-300 and Patriot,” IRNA said.
The system is “better than S-300 and close to S-400”, Rouhani said in televised remarks after the ceremony, held on Iran’s “national defence industry day”.
Pictures released by his office showed the system mounted on the back of military trucks in Tehran.
Iran installed the S-300 system in March 2016 following several years of delays, after a nuclear agreement reached with world powers the previous year allowed the lifting of international sanctions.
Thursday’s unveiling takes place against a backdrop of rising tensions with Washington since President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.
Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone with a surface-to-air missile in June for allegedly violating its airspace, which the United States denies.
‘Iran does not want war, ready to work on French nuclear deal proposals’
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the country was prepared to work on French proposals to salvage the international nuclear deal that Tehran signed with world powers in 2015, but it will not tolerate US interference in the Gulf.
The United States abandoned the international nuclear deal in May last year and stepped up sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
In an effort to prop up the agreement, French President Emmanuel Macron offered on Wednesday to either soften sanctions on Iran or provide a compensation mechanism “to enable the Iranian people to live better” in return for full compliance with the pact.
Speaking at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Zarif said he was looking forward to having a serious conversation with Macron in Paris on Friday.
“There are proposals on the table, both from the French and the Iranian side, and we are going to work on those proposals tomorrow,” he said.
Zarif also warned against US efforts to create a security mission, which, so far, Britain, Australia, and Bahrain have joined, to guard shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for global oil supplies.
“It’s clear that the US’ intention..(of having a) naval presence in the Persian Gulf is to counter Iran.. Don’t expect us to remain quiet when somebody comes to our waters and threatens us,” Zarif said.
Several international merchant vessels have been attacked in the Gulf in recent months in incidents that have rocked global commodity trading. The UShas blamed Iran, which denies the accusations.
Adding to the fraught mood, British forces seized an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar in July then Iranian Revolutionary Guards detained a British vessel in the Gulf.
In his speech in Oslo, Zarif said Iran would not start a war in the Gulf but it would defend itself.
“Will there be a war in the Persian Gulf? I can tell you that we will not start the war…but we will defend ourselves.”