Israel Carries Out Test Launch for Rocket Propulsion System

Amid growing tension with Iran, Defense Ministry says launch over central Israel was completed as planned, providing no further details

Yaniv Kubovich
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Israel tests a launch of a rocket propulsion system, central Israel, December 6, 2019.
Israel tests a launch of a rocket propulsion system, central Israel, December 6, 2019. Credit: Ilan Assayag
Yaniv Kubovich

Israel tested Friday a rocket propulsion system, launched from a military base located in the center of the country.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the test launch was scheduled in advance and was carried out as planned, providing no further details.

This comes amid increasing tension between Israel and Iran. The New York Times reported on Wednesday Tehran was building up a “hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq,” capable of reaching Israel, Saudi Arabia and U.S. troops in other parts of the region. 

This, the Times reported, was "part of a widening effort to try to intimidate the Middle East and assert its power."

Distance from Iranian missile sites
Distance from Iranian missile sitesCredit:

Meanhwile, France, Germany and the United Kingdom said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated Wednesday that Iran was developing "nuclear-capable ballistic missiles," which they say is in violation of a Securiy Council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal.

The letter cites footage released on social media April 22, 2019, of a previously unseen flight test of a new Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile variant “equipped with a maneuverable re-entry vehicle.” It says: “The Shahab-3 booster used in the test is a Missile Technology Control Regime category-1 system and as such is technically capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.”

Officials in the Trump administration also have said Iran is working to obtain nuclear-capable missiles, something the Iranians deny.

Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the wave of popular protests in the Middle East is an opportunity to "increase pressure" on Iran.

"There is no reason" to help the protesters, Netanyahu said ahead of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as the demonstrations were part of a "fertile ground" to weaken the Islamic Republic.

Iran is stretching its economic resources while trying to "broaden its empire," the prime minister added. "It's creating political problems and control issues," leading to "fertile ground for weakening Iran."

Israel is "actively engaged in countering" Iran's aggression emanating from Iran itself, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen, the embattled prime minister said.

According to Netanyahu's office, the two discussed "Iran and the region's developments." In his statement to the press, Netanyahu said both Pompeo and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed with him on using anti-government demonstrations in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran as leverage against Tehran.

Netanyahu refused to address reports about an attack on an Iranian Revolutionary Guards weapons warehouse in eastern Syria on Wednesday night.

The warehouse is located within an airport near Al-Bukamal, on the Iraqi border. 

In recent months, a series of strikes in Iraq have been attributed to Israel, some of them near the Syria-Iraq border and the Al-Bukamal-Qaim crossing. The attacks targeted Iran-backed Shi'ite militias and their convoys tasked with smuggling weapons into Syria.

In September, the Israeli army said Shi'ite units led by Iran's Quds Force attempted to fire several rockets which failed to cross over to Israel. This came just two weeks after the Israeli army announced that Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was behind plans to carry out a drone attack on Israel from Syria.

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