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Archive for Sunday, July 16, 2000

Iran tests ballistic missile

July 16, 2000

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— Iran test-fired the Shahab-3 missile Saturday, Tehran television reported, the second trial in two years for the medium-range weapon capable of reaching Israel or U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

The state broadcast said the test was in line with Iran's "policy of strengthening its defense capability on the basis of the principle of deterrence."

"This test is not in any way a threat to another country," it quoted an unidentified military source as saying.

In Israel, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh expressed concern Saturday about the missile test "because Iran actively and relentlessly undermines the peace process through various terrorist organizations."

"When such a regime has a long-range capacity combined with a tremendous effort to combine it with nuclear projects, its of great concern to Israel," Sneh told. He added, without giving details, that Israel "is prepared to forestall" the dangers of Iran's weapons technology.

The Clinton administration has said missile threats from "states of concern" like Iran and North Korea necessitate the development of a controversial, multibillion dollar national anti-missile defense system.

In Washington, U.S. officials said Saturday that Iran's reported test-firing of a medium-range missile underscores long-standing concerns about the risk of weapons proliferation in the Persian Gulf region.

Western military experts earlier said the missile had failed its first test in 1998, exploding seconds after launch, a claim Iran repeatedly has denied.

Iran says the Shahab-3 is a ballistic missile, with a range of 800 miles, and that it can travel at a speed of 4,320 mph with a 1-ton warhead.

Iran is believed to have received missile technology from Russia, China and North Korea, a claim Tehran has denied. The Shahab-3 is believed to be based on North Korea's No Dong ballistic missile.

Iran also is working on the long-range Shahab-4 rocket that it says will be used only to carry satellites into space -- not for military purposes.

The Iranians launched an ambitious domestic arms development program during the 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for weapons shortages caused by a U.S. embargo. Since 1992, Iran has unveiled its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, and a fighter plane.

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