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Iran Fires Long-Range Missile

PTI 28 Sep 2009, 10:18:16 IST

Iran on Monday said it has successfully test-fired the longest-range missiles in its arsenal, weapons capable of carrying a warhead and striking Israel, US military bases in the Middle East, and parts of Europe. 

English-language Press TV on Monday showed pictures of Shahab-3 missile being test-fired.  Iran's state television said on Monday the Revolutionary Guard, which controls Iran's missile programme, successfully tested the medium-range Shahab-3 and Sajjil solid-fuel missiles with ranges up to about 2,000 kilometres .

It was the third round of missile tests in two days of drills by the Guard.  The Sajjil-2 missile is Iran's most advanced two-stage surface-to-surface missile and is powered entirely by solid-fuel while the older Shahab-3 uses a combination of solid and liquid fuel in its most advanced form. 

Solid fuel is seen as a technological breakthrough for any missile program as solid fuel increases the accuracy of missiles in reaching targets. 

General Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, said on Sunday the drills were meant to show Tehran is prepared to crush any military threat from another country.  State media reported tests overnight of the medium-range Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 missiles.

The Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 have a range of about 185 miles (300 kilometres) and 435 miles (700 kilometres) respectively.

Salami, who claimed during the launch multiple-warheads were applied to the Iranian mid-range missiles for the first time during the testing, described the manoeuvre as "a night drill aimed at evaluation of capabilities of the air force, and boosting the level of technical and tactical capabilities of this force for night launches".

English-language Press TV reported that during the first stage of the launch on the first day, the Fateh-110, short-range ground to ground missile, Tondar-69, a naval missile and Zelzal were test-fired. 

Press TV said that all three missiles were working based on solid fuel and ranged between 100 to 400 kilometres.

The test of the mid-range missiles was the second stage of the "Great Prophet 4" military exercises that began on Sunday.  The war games come at a time when Iran is under intense international pressure to fully disclose its nuclear activities.

They began Sunday, two days after the U.S. And its allies disclosed that Iran had been secretly developing an underground uranium enrichment facility and warned the country it must open the site to international inspection or face harsher international sanctions. 

General Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, said Sunday the drills were meant to show Tehran is prepared to crush any military threat from another country.

The revelation of Iran's previously secret nuclear site has given greater urgency to a key meeting on Thursday in Geneva between Iran and six major powers trying to stop its suspected nuclear weapons program. 

The nuclear site was revealed in the arid mountains near the holy city of Qom and is believed to be inside a heavily guarded, underground facility belonging to the Revolutionary Guard, according to a document sent by President Barack Obama's administration to lawmakers.

 After the strong condemnations from the U.S. and its allies, Iran said Saturday it will allow U.N. nuclear inspectors to examine the site.

 Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi identified the newly revealed site as Fordo, a village located 180 kilometers south of the capital Tehran.

The site is 100 kilometers away from Natanz, Iran's known industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant.

Qashqavi, however, said the missile tests had nothing to do with the tension over the site, saying it was part of routine, long-planned military exercises.  He also said the upcoming talks in Switzerland with the five UN Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany were a "great opportunity for constructive negotiations." 

Nuclear experts said the details that have emerged about the site and the fact that it was being developed secretly were strong indications that Iran's nuclear programme is not only for peaceful purposes, as the country has long maintained.  AP