Iran tests fires longer range missile as part of new maneuvers
Thursday, November 2nd 2006, 11:52 am
By: News On 6
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iran test-fired dozens of missiles, including the Shahab-3 that can reach Israel, in military maneuvers Thursday that it said were aimed at putting a stop to the role of world powers in the Persian Gulf region.
The show of strength came as Iran remains locked in dispute with the West over its nuclear program, which Washington says is geared to producing atomic weapons but Tehran says is only for generating electricity. The maneuvers came three days after U.S.-led warships finished naval exercises in the Gulf that Iran branded as ``adventurist.''
State television reported that several kinds of missiles were tested, and broadcast footage of them being fired from mobile launchers.
``We want to show our deterrent and defensive power to trans-regional enemies, and we hope they will understand the message,'' the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, said in a clear reference to the United States, Britain and France, who were among the six nations that took part in the Gulf maneuvers earlier this week.
Iranian state radio said: ``The maneuver is aimed at providing security in the region without the intervention of trans-regional powers, which are trying to justify their presence by portraying the region as convulsive.''
In Israel, Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he was not surprised by the missile tests, and warned that to leave Iran unchecked would pose a risk to the world.
``Iran is following a direct line after North Korea. Therefore this problem is not Israel's but that of the entire world,'' Ben-Eliezer said, referring to North Korea's recent nuclear test and its frequent launches of long-range missiles.
Asked about Iran's tests, White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said, ``I don't have any independent verification on that.''
Iran's Shahab-3 missile, which can carrying a nuclear warhead and is said to have a range of more than 1,250 miles, is believed to be based on a North Korean missile design, although Iran denies this.
The Iranian missile tests ``should bother not only Israel. It should bother the Arab countries, Islamic countries, the Gulf region, North Africa and Europe. We are always warning the world about this phenomenon called Iran,'' Ben-Eliezer said.
Iran already has held three large-scale military exercises this year. It often uses maneuvers to test weapons developed by its arms industry.
Safavi, whose elite Revolutionary Guards conducted the missile tests, said the maneuvers that began Thursday, named ``Great Prophet,'' would take place in the Gulf, the Sea of Oman and several provinces of Iran. He did not specify how many troops were involved.
State TV reported that among the rockets fired was the Shahab-2, which has a warhead that can distribute 1,400 bomblets at the same time.
State radio quoted the air force chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Hossein Salami, as saying: ``A large number of advanced missiles, different in range, warhead and kind, were successfully test fired at the same time.''
The U.N. Security Council is considered imposing sanctions on Iran, which has ignored demands that it cease uranium enrichment, a process that can produce the fuel for nuclear reactors or material for bombs.
Iran insists it does not seek to produce nuclear weapons, but only to produce its own nuclear fuel.
The U.S.-led maneuvers that finished Monday focused on surveillance, with warships tracking a ship suspected of carrying components of illegal weapons. The nations that took part were Australia, Bahrain, Britain, France, Italy and the United States.