08/18/2008, 00.00
IRAN
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Tehran announces new missile as IAEA representative arrives

Successfully test-fired rocket can put satellite in space. As Islamist regime reiterates its willingness to talk with UN agency, air force commander announces upgraded fighter jet that can fly 3,000 kilometres without refuelling.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Iran is continuing its two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, it remains involved in extenuating talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); on the other hand, it continues to announce the development of new weapon systems.

IAEA deputy director in charge of inspections Olli Heinonen travelled today to Iran to continue the previous talks. At the same time, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported that Iran test-fired a rocket to carry a satellite into space. It also quoted Iran's air force commander Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani who said that Iran had upgraded its fighter jets to allow them to fly 3,000 kilometres without refuelling.

Announced a few days ago Heinonen’s arrival in Tehran is meant to “continue previous talks about the trend of cooperation between Iran and the agency,” IRNA said.

In reality, the IAEA official was in Iran previously to explain to the Iranian leaders the terms of the offer submitted by the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France—, plus Germany) in exchange for the suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. This offer is final since new sanctions in case of a refusal are likely to be presented to the General Assembly next month.

After an initial statement by government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham that an Omid telecommunications satellite had been launched, other sources reported that an Iranian-made Safir missile was actually test-fired.

According to the United States the new rocket can be used to deliver weapons systems.

Iran’s test and the announcement that its jets can reach Israel (about 1,000 km) and come back without refuelling come at a time when the Jewish state and the United States have agreed to deploy early-warning radar defence systems that can detect missiles launched at a range of up to 2,000 kilometres.

Starting next year the radars will be operated by staff from the US military personnel, this according to Israeli daily Haaretz. Under the terms of the agreement, US military staff will be permanently based in Israel for the first time. (PD)

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