TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill Saturday launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid heightened tensions over Tehran's nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
Footage showed two missiles smash into a target that Iranian state television described as "hypothetical hostile enemy ships" at a distance of 1,120 miles. The report did not specify the type of missiles used.
In the first phase of the drill Friday, the Guard's aerospace division launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against "hypothetical enemy bases." Iranian state television described the drill as taking place in the country's vast central desert, the latest in a series of snap exercises. Footage also showed four unmanned, triangle-shaped drones flying in a tight formation, smashing into targets and exploding.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased amid a series of incidents stemming from President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. Amid Trump's final days as president, Tehran has seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the U.S. has sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region.
In recent weeks, Iran has increased its military drills as the country tries to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear accord, which he has said America could reenter. Biden was vice president when the deal was signed during the Obama administration.
Iran fired cruise missiles Thursday as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman, state media reported, under surveillance of what appeared to be a U.S. nuclear submarine. Iran's navy did not identify the submarine at the time, but on Saturday a news website affiliated with state television said the vessel was American. Helicopter footage of the exercise released Thursday by Iran's navy showed what resembled an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, the USS Georgia, which the U.S. Navy last month said had been sent to the Persian Gulf.
Iran has missile capability of up to 1,250 miles, far enough to reach its enemy Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Germany, France and Britain pressed Iran to back off the latest planned violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, saying that Tehran has "no credible civilian use" for uranium metal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that Iran had informed it that it had begun installing equipment for the production of uranium metal. It said Tehran maintains its plans to conduct research and development on uranium metal production are part of its "declared aim to design an improved type of fuel."
Uranium metal can also be used for a nuclear bomb, however, and research on its production is specifically prohibited under the nuclear deal -- the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- that Tehran signed with Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the United States in 2015.
Since the U.S. withdrawal from the accord in 2018, the other members have been working to preserve it. Iran has been using violations of the deal to put pressure on the other signatories to provide more incentives to Iran to offset crippling American sanctions.
A statement from the German, French and British foreign ministries said they are "deeply concerned" by the latest Iranian announcement.
"Iran has no credible civilian use for uranium metal," it said. "The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications."
"We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its ... commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal," the statement added.
Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press.