Israel test-fired a missile as Iran debate rages
Reuters) – Israel test-fired a missile from a military base on Wednesday, two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the “direct and heavy threat” posed by Iran‘s nuclear programme.
The noon launch near Tel Aviv, which had not been announced in advance, coincided with a week-long surge of speculation in local media that Netanyahu was working to secure cabinet consensus for an attack on Israel’s arch-foe.
Netanyahu’s office declined comment on the reports, which were unsourced and unconfirmed, and which some commentators suggested might be disinformation designed to jolt war-wary foreign powers into stepping up sanctions against Tehran.
The Defence Ministry described the launch from Palmachim base as the test of the propulsion system of a missile on which it declined to elaborate.
“This is an impressive technological achievement and an important step in Israel’s advances in the realms of missiles and space, which has been a long time in the planning,” Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in a statement.
Israel Radio’s military affairs correspondent, who is regularly briefed by top officials on defence matters, said a “ballistic missile” had been launched. The term generally applies to long-range missiles for delivering warheads.3
Israel is widely assumed to have such weapons, known as Jerichos, as well as Shavit rockets for putting satellites into orbit. It has also, with U.S. help, been upgrading its Arrow aerial shield, which uses interceptor missiles to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles above the atmosphere.