TEHRAN, 11 Aug. (IPS) As expected, Iran confirmed on Wednesday 11 August 2004 the test firing of its Shahab-3 missile.
The test was announced last Sunday by Iran’s Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani, telling defence correspondents that Iran had “updated” the weapon and would be announced “in due time, which is very short”.
But the Defence Ministry’s communiqué announcing the test firing did not provide any information about “ameliorations” brought to the earlier version that had a range of 1.500 kilometers capable of carrying a charge of one ton.
Mr. Shamkhani said the modifications to Shahab-3, which in Persian means meteor, were in response to efforts by Israel to improve its own missiles.
The Defence Minister also revealed that along with Shahab-3, Iran’s “nuclear defence system would also be improved and updated.
The Minister also revealed that along with Shahab-3, Iran’s “nuclear defence system would also be improved and updated.
This was the first time that a senior Iranian official confirmed that the country had a defence system based on nuclear force.
"The Defense Ministry conducted the field test today to assess the latest modifications as a result of research carried out on Shahab-3", Tehran radio said without elaborating if the test was successful.
The missile's latest test comes at a time when the United States and Israel are accusing Iran of working to build nuclear weapons, claims that Tehran denies vehemently, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes only.
Though Iran says the missile is entirely Iranian-made, but U.S. officials says the missile is based on the North Korean "No Dong" missile design and produced in Iran. ENDS SHAHAB TEST 11804