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Iran shows might of its missiles

By Asscoiated Press
Published November 3, 2006


TEHRAN, Iran - Iran test fired dozens of missiles, including the Shahab-3 that can reach Israel, in military maneuvers Thursday that it said were aimed at putting a stop to the role of world powers in the Persian Gulf region.

The demonstration came three days after U.S.-led warships finished naval exercises in the gulf that Iran branded as "adventurist." Iran is in a dispute with the West over its nuclear program, which Washington says is geared to producing weapons, but Tehran says is only for generating electricity.

Asked about the maneuvers, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she thought the Iranians "are trying to demonstrate that they are tough."

"They are trying to say to the world you are not going to keep us from getting a nuclear weapon," she said in a radio interview. "The world has to say to them, yes, we will."

Iranian state television reported that several kinds of missiles were tested, and broadcast footage of them being fired from mobile launchers.

"We want to show our deterrent and defensive power to transregional enemies, and we hope they will understand the message," the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, said in a clear reference to the United States, Britain and France, who took part in the gulf maneuvers this week.

In Israel, Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he was not surprised by the missile tests, and warned that to leave Iran unchecked would pose a risk to the world.

"Iran is following a direct line after North Korea. Therefore this problem is not Israel's, but that of the entire world," Ben-Eliezer said.

Iran's Shahab-3 missile, which can carrying a nuclear warhead and is believed to have a range of more than 1,200 miles, is believed to be based on North Korea's Nodong missile.

Iran, which denies obtaining missile technology from North Korea, has been testing the Shahab-3, which means "shooting star" in Farsi, since the late 1990s and publicly paraded the rocket for the first time in 2003.

While U.S. officials have suggested that Iran is exaggerating the capabilities of its newly developed weapons, Washington and its allies have been watching the country's progress in missile technology with concern. Last December, Israel successfully tested its Arrow missile defense system against a rocket similar to Iran's Shahab-3.

[Last modified November 3, 2006, 02:07:42]

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