Iran test-fires more accurate Shahab-3 missile
TEHRAN: Iran said it had test-fired a more accurate version of its Shahab-3 missile on Wednesday. This was the latest in a series of vaunted upgrades to the weapon thought capable of hitting Israel and US bases in the Gulf.
Earlier, Iran announced it had increased the missile’s range to 2,000 km, which means the missile was capable of hitting parts of southern Europe. Military experts had previously reckoned it was only capable of hitting targets within 1,300 km.
“We test fired a more accurate version of the Shahab-3 in the presence of observers,” said Ali Shamkhani, the defence minister.
Shahab is the Persian word for meteor. Based on the North Korean missile, Nodong-1, and modified with Russian technology, the Shahab-3 was first deployed to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in July 2003.
“Iran’s policy of announcing its missile tests is a matter of orchestrated sabre-rattling,” said Israeli defence expert Uzi Rubin, a former head of the Jewish state’s “Arrow” missile defence programme.
“What is interesting here is the absence of any mention of the Shahab-3’s increased range. By focusing instead on its accuracy, the announcement reflects a growing uneasiness in Tehran at the implications of an increased-range missile vis-a-vis the European Union,” he added.
EU diplomats are trying to strike a deal with Iran to encourage it to give up uranium enrichment to resolve a dispute over whether Tehran was seeking nuclear arms.
Washington wants to haul Iran before the UN Security Council in November for possible sanctions after a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog.
Iran insists its missiles are for defensive purposes and would be used to counter an Israeli or US attack against its nuclear facilities.
Israel has recently ratcheted up the pressure on Iran by saying it has bought in weapons that target the Islamic Republic’s underground uranium enrichment facilities. reuters