09/28/2009, 00.00
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Tehran tests new missile that could hit Israel and US Gulf bases

The Shahab-3 rocket has a range of 2,000 kilometres. Today’s test was broadcast live on state TV, to shouts of ‘God is greatest’. Iran’s military exercises fuel tensions with the international community. Talks with five+one group open in Geneva next Thursday.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iran successfully test-fired on Monday a surface-to-surface long-range missile, the Shahab-3, which could hit Israel and US bases in the Gulf region, state-owned Press TV reported. Television footage showed a missile soaring into the sky in desert-like terrain, to shouts of Allahu Akbar (God is greatest).

This comes after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, an elite branch of Iran’s armed forces under the command of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, yesterday test-fired short- and medium-range missiles.

The two Shahab-3 missiles test-fired today have a range of about 2,000 kilometres.  Iran’s satellite English-language TV network reported that the testing of these long-range rockets was part of Great Prophet 4 exercises. 

Revolutionary Guard Air Force Chief General Hossein Salami said the missiles successfully hit their targets and that Iran had perfected its short-range missiles to defend itself from any attacks.

Reiterating Tehran’s bellicose posture, he said, “We are going to respond to any military action in a crushing manner”.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi took a less belligerent tone, saying that the missile tests were merely part of a routine military drill with a deterrent function. It had “nothing to do with Iran's peaceful nuclear technology," he said.

However, tensions over revelations that Iran had a second uranium-enrichment plant continue.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference with the leaders of the United States, France and the United Kingdom who pledged “tough sanctions” against Iran unless it abandons its nuclear weapons programme. Iran’s clerical rulers insist that Tehran is developing nuclear power for “civilian purposes” and that it has the legitimate “right” to do so,

Next Thursday talks between Iran and the five+one group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—France, US, UK, China and Russia—and Germany) will resume in Geneva.

Iran’s recent missile tests may however complicate matters, especially since Israel remains on high alert and has “not ruled” a preventive action to stop Iran from building the atomic bomb.

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