Israel has test-fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Iran from the Palmachim base, according to a report on Israeli radio.
The test of a rocket propulsion system on Wednesday comes amid increased debate around the likelihood of an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear programme.
Speculation around the basis for the first missile test since 2008 was heightened after a newspaper commentator had suggested over the weekend that Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister, may have decided without cabinet approval to launch an attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.
A defence ministry statement said that the test-firing “had been planned by the defence establishment a long time ago and has been carried out as scheduled”.
Wednesday’s test-fire, the first in three years, was declared a success.
Although defence officials would not elaborate on the type of missile tested, the military affairs correspondent at Israel Radio, regularly briefed by officials, said a ballistic missile had been launched.
Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, discusses Israel’s ballistic missile test
In an address at parliament’s opening session on Monday, Netanyahu repeated that a nuclear-armed Iranian state would prove a serious threat to Israel and the world.
Israel is believed to have a sizeable and the Middle East’s sole atomic arsenal, along with a technologically superior air force.
However, it lacks long-range bombers which could deliver lasting damage to Iran’s distant, dispersed and fortified facilities.
Israel considers Iran its most dangerous threat, citing the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme, its ballistic missile development, repeated references by Iran’s leader to Israel’s destruction, and Iran’s support for armed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Iran denies the allegations that it aims to produce a bomb, saying its nuclear programme is meant only to produce energy for the oil-rich country.
Iran has blamed Israel for disruptions in its nuclear programme, including the mysterious assassinations of a number of Iranian nuclear scientists and a computer virus that wiped out some of its nuclear centrifuges.
Israel has repeatedly called for tougher economic sanctions on Iran by the international community.