Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Iranian military completes second day of missile tests

AP AND AFP , TEHRAN AND LONDON

Iran said it completed two days of missile tests that included launching its ­longest-range missiles yesterday, weapons capable of carrying a warhead and striking Israel, US military bases in the Middle East and parts of Europe.

State TV said the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which controls Iran’s missile program, tested upgraded versions of the medium-range Shahab-3 and Sajjil missiles, which have a range of up to 2,000km. It was the third and final round of missile tests in two days of drills by the IRGC.

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, which is also known as the Qadr-F1.

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

The war games come at a time when Iran is under intense international pressure to fully disclose its nuclear activities.

They began on Sunday, two days after the US 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 IRGC Air Force, said on Sunday the drills were meant to show Tehran is prepared to crush any military threat from another country.

Meanwhile, Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi warned Israel yesterday against launching any attack on the Islamic Republic, saying it would only speed up the Jewish state’s own demise.

“If this happens, which of course we do not foresee, its ultimate result would be that it expedites the Zionist regime’s last breath,” Vahidi said on state television.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly expressed alarm over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and refused to rule out pre-emptive military action to stop Iran developing an atomic weapon.

Iran, which says its nuclear work is for peaceful power generation, has often shrugged off the possibility of any such strikes.

Vahidi, a former IRGC commander, said that in the event of an Israeli attack, its “lifespan, which is today coming to an end, would be speeded up.”

He said that the “Zionist regime,” the term Iran uses for Israel, was on a “slope of destruction.”

On Saturday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said a newly disclosed nuclear facility in Iran was proof the Islamic Republic was seeking nuclear weapons and called on the world to make an “unequivocal” response.

Israel, widely assumed to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear power, has described Iran’s uranium enrichment as a threat to its existence. It says “all options” are on the table in preventing Tehran from building nuclear missiles.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spokesman said yesterday that Iran’s missile tests were “a matter of concern,” but added that London’s focus remained on Tehran’s atomic program.

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