REUTERS - U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called for sanctions against Iran after the Islamic Republic brushed off U.S. concerns and test-fired two ballistic missiles that it said were designed to be able to hit Israel.
Iranian state television showed footage of two Qadr missiles being launched from northern Iran, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said hit targets 1,400 km (870 miles) away.
Iranian agencies said the missiles were stamped with the Hebrew words, "Israel should be wiped from the pages of history," though the inscription could not be seen on any photographs.
Clinton, a former secretary of state under President Barack Obama, said she was "deeply concerned" by the tests, the second round of Iranian missile launches in two days.
"Iran should face sanctions for these activities and the international community must demonstrate that Iran's threats toward Israel will not be tolerated," said Clinton, who is ahead in the race to be Democratic nominee at the Nov. 8 presidential elections.
Her call for sanctions reflected a tougher line against Iran's recent missile activity than that taken so far by the White House, which said it is aware of and reviewing reports of the Iranian tests, and would determine an appropriate response.
"We know that Iran is in a season of carrying out a number of military activities, and so it certainly would not be a surprise if there are additional launches over the next several days," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
The Iranian move on Wednesday came despite warning from the U.S. State Department after Tuesday's missile tests that Washington continues to "aggressively apply our unilateral tools to counter threats from Iran's missile program," a possible reference to additional U.S. sanctions.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on Wednesday with Iran's foreign minister about the test-firing of two ballistic missiles, a State Department spokesman said.
The missile tests underline a rift in Iran between hardline factions opposed to normalizing relations with the West, and President Hassan Rouhani's relatively moderate government, which is trying to attract foreign investors to Iran.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday that it said were designed to be able to hit Israel, defying U.S. criticism of similar tests carried out the previous day.
"The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency. The nearest point in Iran is around 1,000 km from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Iranian agencies said the missiles tested on Wednesday were stamped with the words "Israel should be wiped from the pages of history" in Hebrew, though the inscription could not be seen on any photographs.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Israel Radio the tests showed Iran's hostility had not changed since implementing a nuclear deal with world powers in January, despite President Hassan Rohani's overtures to the West.
"To my regret there are some in the West who are misled by the honeyed words of part of the Iranian leadership while the other part continues to produce equipment and weaponry, to arm terrorist groups," Ya'alon said.
The IRGC maintains dozens of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, the largest stock in the Middle East. It says they are solely for defensive use with conventional, non-nuclear warheads.
Tehran has denied U.S. accusations of acting "provocatively," citing the long history of U.S. interventions in the Middle East and its own right to self-defense.
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