Israel tested a ballistic missile on Wednesday morning, which, according to foreign media reports, is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The test launch occurred at 9:50 a.m. from the Palmachim Air Force base south of Tel Aviv. Several residents in the central part of the country saw the missile test before it was announced in the media, which caused some panic.
"Israel conducted a trial launch of the rocket motor at the Palmachim Air Force Base. The test was planned by the defense establishment long in advance and was carried out on schedule. The test was a success,” the Defense Ministry said in an official statement.
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And a defense official told Agence France Presse, “This test firing of the rocket-propulsion system had been planned by the defense establishment a long time ago and was carried out as scheduled.”
Foreign news reports, however, said the test involved firing a long-range Jericho missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran.
The last time Israel conducted a missile test was in January 2008. According to foreign press reports, these missiles are able to carry nuclear warheads. The missiles have ranges of 4,500 to 7,000 kilometers (2,800 to 4,300 miles), Israel Radio reported.
The British newspaper The Guardian reported earlier this week that Israel is striving to improve and expand the capabilities of its cruise missiles, designed to be launched from submarines. Israel has three submarines, with two more under construction in Germany. Israel and Germany are holding talks about the construction of a sixth submarine.
According to foreign media reports, Israel’s submarines are meant to give Israel a “second-strike” nuclear option, meaning that Israel can strike back with nuclear weapons from submarines at hidden locations at sea even if its nuclear weapons stored on land are harmed in an enemy nuclear strike.
Israel is extending its Jericho III missile's range, developing intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities and expanding its nuclear-tipped cruise missile-enabled submarine fleet, The Guardian said, quoting an independent committee report. The newspaper said the report was prepared for the Trident Commission, an independent cross-party initiative set up by the British American Security Information Council