According to reports released to Iran’s semi-official news agency Tasnim on Thursday, Iran has successfully test-fired a naval missile this week, highlighting recent aggressive interactions between Iranian forces and the United States Navy.

According to Iraqi military officials, the missile, named the Hormuz 2, has a range of approximately 180 miles and was built entirely within Iran.

“The naval ballistic missile called Hormuz 2 this week has successfully destroyed a target which was 250 kilometers away,” said Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force, according to Tasnim.

Iran’s development of Naval anti-ship missiles is a serious threat to American forces in the region, as Iran has repeatedly harassed U.S. ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf in recent months, with one incident culminating in the USS Mahan being forced to fire warning shots at Iranian Revolutionary Guard attack boats set on a high-speed intercept course with the vessel.  Last Thursday, an Iranian frigate paced the unarmed surveillance vessel and USNS Invincible, followed by another altercation between the Invincible and fast attack boats on Saturday that has prompted conflicting statements from Iranian and U.S. officials as to the cause of the provocation.

The Strait of Hormuz is not only an important strategic waterway, as the means by which Naval vessels gain access to the Persian Gulf, it also sees approximately twenty percent of the world’s oil sales pass through the area – which is less than twenty-four miles wide at its most narrow point.

According to reports, the missile test involved destroying a floating barge a hundred and fifty miles or so away, demonstrating an ability to engage naval vessels from beyond the horizon.  While fast attack boats launched by the Revolutionary Guard tend to characterize the most common form of seaward harassment posed by Iranian military forces, the addition of anti-ship missiles to their arsenal changes the nature of a potential conflict between American and Iranian navies.

President Trump has made it clear that he intends to tow a tougher line on Iran than President Obama did, already levying sanctions against Iran for a medium range ballistic missile test in January and taking to Twitter to state, “Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”

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“These provocative tests are just the latest example of Iran’s dangerous actions that demand a coordinated, multifaceted response from the United States,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker. “The administration has already begun to push back in the way that we should, and I look forward to working with them as we prepare to introduce bipartisan legislation to deter Iran’s threatening behavior on all fronts.”

Iran seems intent on testing President Trump’s claims that he’ll be taking a harder line on the aggressive behavior of the Arab nation – with at least three interactions with U.S. vessels, officials have labeled “unprofessional” and even “unsafe” and multiple missile tests since Trump took office in January.  While most of these missile tests are not in violation of any treaty – they, accompanied by statements made by Iranian officials regarding their willingness to defend themselves against what they perceive as an encroaching American force, all seem to be hinting at the real potential for armed conflict to break out in the region.

Writer’s note: No images of the new missile system have surfaced yet, and the feature image was sourced from a land-based Iranian missile test last January

Image courtesy of the Associated Press