Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Iran test fires Shihab-3 missile

From Ynet News, 23/5/06, by Hanan Greenberg ...

According to reports, test seen as partial success; it is unknown what problems took place during test of missile, which can reach 1,300 kilometers, but Iranians trying to increase range

Several hours before the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US President George W. Bush at the White House, in which they were expected to discuss the Iranian threat, Iran test fired the Shihab-3 missile.

The first test of the missile took place a number of years ago. ...The range of the missile of this model reaches 1,300 kilometers (806 miles), but according to reports that have come out of Iran in recent months, improvements on the missile have been carried out with the aim that it reach 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). It is fair to assume that the timing of the new test firing was preplanned for the Olmert-Bush summit.

... The Iranians' continued development of the missiles, including the Shihab-4 (which has a range over 2,000 kilometers), is already in advanced development stages, and points to a continuation of the Iranian phenomenon of developing long-range missiles alongside the nuclear program, and forming a threat to all of Europe in a number of years.

Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, the former IDF intelligence chief, warned last week that the Iranians will possess long-range missiles of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), "and all of Europe will be covered" as a result.

The defense community is closely following the Iranian experiments, alongside its monitoring of all that is linked to the nuclear development. Ballistic missiles experiments are thought to be the less worrying aspects for senior defense officials, while the assumption that the Iranians will have a nuclear ability by 2009 is seen as the real threat.

The defense establishment believes that the Iranians will overcome all obstacles in the development of ballistic missile developments compatible with nuclear warheads. "The important issue is the future Iranian nuclear ability, rather than one particular missile or another. Everyone's eyes are fixed on the international community and the steps it will take against Iran on this issue," a defense source said.

...Iran is high on the agenda for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on his current first visit to Washington....

Reuters contributed to the report

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