Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Iran test fires new Shahab-3 missile -

Iran test fires new Shahab-3 missile -: "Iran test fires new Shahab-3 missile
10/20/2004 12:40:00 PM GMT

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A Shahab-3 missile on display during a military parade in Tehran


Iran announced Wednesday that it has launched a new test for a more accurate version of its Shihab-3 medium-range missile.

"Iran test fired a more accurate version of the Shahab-3 in the presence of observers," Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told Reuters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

Iran’s fast growing progress in its ballistic missile programme stirs concerns of the international community, already stepping up pressure against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Iran stressed more than once that its missile program is purely deterrent and has repetitively denied American and Israeli claims that it wants to develop nuclear warheads which the Shihab-3 could deliver.

Previous tests had put the missile's range at between 1,300 and 1,700 kilometres, already bringing arch-enemy Israel and U.S. bases in the region well within range.

The official IRNA news agency quoted earlier an influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying that Iran is now capable of launching a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers.

The missile is capable of reaching Israel and parts of southeastern Europe.

"Experts know that a country that possesses this can obtain all subsequent stages" in missile production, Rafsanjani told staff at the Aerospace Research Institute in Tehran.

Shahab is the Persian word for meteor. It’s design is based on the North Korean Nodong-1 and modified with Russian technology.

Shahab-3 was first deployed to Iran's Revolutionary Guard in July last year.

Israel and the United States have developed the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, one of very rare systems capable of intercepting and destroying missiles at high altitudes.

Its development followed the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles that struck Israel.

The Arrow was developed by Israel Aircraft Industries and Boeing Co. at a cost of more than $1 billion.

The "Shihab" is Iran's longest-range ballistic missile. The country launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo."

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