Iran confirmed recent U.S. reports Sunday that it had conducted a successful test flight of a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel.
The Iranian Defense Minister, Ali Shamkhani said that Iran tested the Shihab-3 missile earlier this month, Tehran radio reported. "To enhance the power and accuracy of Shahab-3 missile ... we will continue our missile program, and the recent successful tests were carried out in the same context," the state radio quoted Shamkhani as saying.
U.S. officials told AP Thursday that Iran had carried out a successful test of the Shahab-3, which has a range of about 800 miles — adequate to reach Israel and U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and eastern Turkey.
The test is believed to be the missile's fifth. Some tests have failed, U.S. officials said.
Shamkhani said the test "should not be considered a new production or a new step to increase the missile's range," the radio reported.
Shamkhani said Saturday that U.S. pressure on Russia and China to halt cooperation with Iran had no impact on its missile program.
"Iran's defense industries can produce any conventional weapons the political authorities may want since we are 100 percent self-sufficient in possessing the technology," Shamkhani said. "Therefore, America's pressure on various countries including Russia and China not to cooperate with Iran's missile program will have no effect."
Meanwhile, on Sunday the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that northern Israel and parts of the coast are now within range of Iran's Shihab 3 missile due to delays in the construction of an Arrow anti-missile missile base. According to this report, this information was disclosed at the end of last week by a senior Israeli security officer, who spoke following a recent successful Iranian Shihab 3 test.
The Iranian surface-to-surface missile has a 1,300-kilometer range, and could reach any site in Israel. Officials in Israel believe that Tehran has several such operational missiles, the report added.
The top Israeli security official has emphasized that Iran at this stage has no more than a few operational Shihab 3 missiles. Under some attack scenarios, existing Arrow systems might successfully protect Israel's northern regions, the official said; but such defense is not foolproof. Iran's latest Shihab 3 test was the weapon's third trial run. (Albawaba.com)
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