US Defense official: Iran can’t extend missile range
An Iranian missile, modified in an attempt to extend its range, failed during a recent flight test, a U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.
The Iranians launched the modified Shehab-3 in the month of July, but the missile did not function properly, the official said. The normal version of the missile can fly about 1,300 kms; it is unclear by how much the Iranians attempted to extend its range in the July test, The Associated Press reported.
The Iranians conducted a successful flight test of a regular Shehab-3 in May, and tested the missile again in June, the official added. They had launched the missile four times before then, with mixed results.
The missile is based on the North Korean No Dong design but is produced domestically, U.S. officials say. Washington accuses both North Korea and China of assisting Iran's missile program.
The missile's 1,300-km range is enough to reach Israel and U.S. troops stationed in the region - including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Turkey. It is the Islamic republic’s longest-range ballistic missile.
U.S. intelligence officials have said Tehran can probably fire several of the missiles in an emergency but that it has not yet developed a completely reliable weapon. The missile can conceivably carry conventional, chemical, biological or nuclear warheads, although Iran is not believed to have nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, last week, an Iranian rebel group, the National Council of Resistance, claimed that Iran flight-tested a new missile, the Shehab-4, with an even longer range, in May and August. Citing internal sources close to the missile programs, the group alleged that Tehran had disguised the tests as those of Shehab-3s.
However, U.S. officials do not believe Iran's Shehab-4 program has moved beyond the development stages, and Iran's government denies having such a program. The Iranians are not believed to have tested a Shahab-3 in August. (Albawaba.com)
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