Tehran (Reuters): Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard as saying.
The development is likely to fuel tensions with the United States in a week when President Donald Trump, on his first foreign trip, has called Iran a sponsor of militant groups and a threat to countries across the Middle East.
"Iran's third underground factory has been built by the Guards in recent years ... We will continue to further develop our missile capabilities forcefully," Fars quoted Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guard’s airspace division, as saying.
In 2015, Iranian state TV aired footage of underground tunnels with ready-to-fire missiles on the back of trucks, saying the facility was one of hundreds of underground missile bases around the country.
Most nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were lifted last year after Tehran fulfilled commitments under a 2015 deal with major powers to scale back its nuclear program - an agreement that Trump has frequently criticized as being too soft on Tehran. But Iran remains subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions.
Two months after implementation of the deal, the Guards test-fired two ballistic missiles that it said were designed to be able to hit Israel.
"Along with improving our defense capabilities, we will continue our missile tests and missile production. The next missile to be produced is a surface-to-surface missile ," said Hajizadeh, without elaborating.
In retaliation for the new US sanctions over its ballistic missile program, Iran this month added nine American individuals and companies to its own list of 15 US companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperation with Israel.