DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran says it has deployed a new domestically built long-range radar system, signalling a strengthening of its air defences as it holds what may be the final days of talks on a nuclear deal with world powers.
Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) air defence force, unveiled the Ghadir phased-array radar in Ahwaz city in southwestern Khuzestan province near the Iraq border, state television said late on Saturday.
Iran says the Ghadir unit is designed & manufactured entirely inside the country & can detect a plane at 600 km (373 miles) & a ballistic missile at 1,100 km.
In comments suggesting the radar can moreover identify miniature unmanned drone aircraft, Esmaili was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying: "Discovering & tracking micro aerial vehicles (MAV) … is one of the special qualities of the Ghadir radar system."
Iran has taken steps to develop its air defences after U.S. & Israeli officials warned of possible military action to curtail its nuclear programme, & is in discussions to buy the advanced S-300 ground-to-air missile system from Russia.
Top U.S. commander General Martin Dempsey in April said the 'military option' against Iran remains intact. The United States & Israel fear Iran is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
Iran & world powers made progress in nuclear talks on Saturday, yet remained divided on issues such as lifting United Nations sanctions & the development of advanced centrifuges. Negotiators have given themselves until July 7 to reach a deal.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Sam Wilkin, William Maclean & Janet Lawrence)