Wed, Nov 28, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Tehran unveils new 2,000km range missile

CAPACITY Some experts have questioned Iran's claims on building longer-range missiles after the Ghadr-1's disappointing performance in September

AFP , TEHRAN

Iran has built a new longer-range ballistic missile named "Ashura" with a range of 2,000km, the defense minister announced yesterday, according to a Fars news agency report.

"The construction of the Ashura missile with a range of 2,000km one of the accomplishments of the ministry of defense," Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying.

enemy target

The weapon's range is sufficient to put US bases in the Middle East and Iran's arch enemy Israel within reach. The missile is named after the holy Ashura mourning ceremony that marks the death of Shiite imam Hossein.

However, there has been considerable confusion in recent months about the capacities of Iran's longer-range missiles, seen by experts as one of its chief military assets.

Iran unveiled at its main military parade in September a missile labeled Ghadr-1 (Power), which was said to have a range of 1,800km.

Iran's best-known longer-range missile, the Shahab-3, has been said by officials in the past to have a range of 2,000km. Yet at the military parade it was said to have only a 1,300-kilometer range.

Some Western military experts claimed that the Ghadr-1 was no more than a Shahab-3 under a different name and has the "baby bottle" style nose for extra aerodynamic efficiency seen on versions of the Shahab-3.

The Fars news agency, which is known for its coverage of military affairs, did not publish any new pictures of the missile.

rising tension

Iran has regularly touted the abilities of its missile arsenal at a time of mounting tension with the West over its nuclear program.

The US has never ruled out a military attack against Iran to punish its years of defiance in the nuclear crisis.

The Islamic republic has said it will never initiate any attack but has also warned it will strike back with crushing force if the US launches an attack against it.

Iranian military officials have publicly threatened to hit US bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and on the Arabian peninsula with its missiles if Washington attacks.

The US accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge that Tehran vehemently denies.

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