Iran unveiled a long-range unmanned bomber on Sunday, the latest in a series of announcements about new Iranian military advances as tensions rise over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a ceremony to mark Iran’s Defense Industry Day, called the weapon a “messenger of glory and salvation for humanity” but an “ambassador of death” for Iran’s enemies.
The new aircraft, called Karrar or destroyer, can carry up to four cruise missiles and has a range of 620 miles, according to reports on state-owned media, not long enough to reach Israel.
The Karrar drone is the third such unmanned military aircraft to be announced this year and the second new weapon that Iran has unveiled in a matter of days. The United States and Israel have said they would not rule out an airstrike to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, and while Iran has continued to hold out the possibility of compromise, it has also showed off new long-range missiles, submarines and plans to launch high-altitude satellites.
“This is just the beginning,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told military officials. “Today the defense of Iran is identical with the defense of the existence of humanity.”
The announcement came just a day after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Iran’s first nuclear power plant. Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful, but Israel and many Western and Arab nations have voiced deep concerns about the possibility that Iran could use its nuclear fuel to make a bomb. On Friday, Iran’s defense minister, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, announced a successful test launching of the Qiam surface-to-surface missile.
Iran’s first ever domestically built satellite is featured on Iran’s 5000 rial banknote, the equivalent of 50 cents, and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s recent promise to put the first Iranian astronaut into space within 15 years was anticipated in February by the dispatch into outer space of a mouse, two turtles and a box of earthworms.
The unveiling ceremony was held at Malek-Ashtar University of Technology here, thought by many in the American intelligence community to have close links to the Revolutionary Guards. In his comments, Mr. Ahmadinejad used provocative language to call on Western powers to engage Iran in dialogue.
“They tell us all options are on the table. We also say to them, all options are on the table,” he said in comments broadcast on state television. “The first option is for you to come down from your tower of pride and sit like polite children and talk.”
“Come down,” he repeated. “If you do not, the hands of the peoples of the world will bring you down.”