Target Israel? Iran Tests New Long-Range Missile
Iran test fired a new, more accurate surface-to-surface missile, the country's defense minister said Wednesday, in a fresh effort to enhance Tehran’s military might.
The test comes as speculation brews over a possible U.S. or Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, which are believed to be a front for a weapons development program.
"It [the missile] will only fall on the Islamic republic's enemies who want to attack and invade the Islamic Republic of Iran," Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar told the AFP.
"This missile is a two-stage weapon with two combined solid-fuel engines and has an extraordinary high capability," state television quoted Najjar as saying.
A senior defense official at the Pentagon told FOX News that the missile suffered an inflight problem — a possible engine failure — during the test, and the missile only traveled about 180 miles out.
While Iran claims that its ballistic missiles — which can strike targets more than 1,200 miles away — are for defensive purposes, Tehran has warned that it would strike American bases in the Middle East in the event of an attack from the U.S. or Israel.
But Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that Tel Aviv is “convinced that Iran continues to try to build a nuclear weapon,” according to the Fars News Agency.
Iran is known to possess a medium-range ballistic missile known as the Shahab-3, which means "shooting star" in Farsi, with a range of at least 800 miles. In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shahab-3 to 1,200 miles.
"We know that Iran is developing an extended version of the Shahaab-3 that could strike our allies and our friends from the middle east as well as southeastern Europe and to include some of our deployed forces," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told FOX News. "We've consistently pointed out that Iran's missile program is a concern and this testing is another reminder of the importance of establishing a missile defense site in Poland and Czech Republic to defend the U.S. and Europe against a threat that is developing in Iran."
Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.