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Iran hails successful test of medium range missile
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Iran hails successful test of medium range missile
AFP - Thursday, May 21
SEMNAN, Iran (AFP) - - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Wednesday that Iran had successfully test-fired a new medium-range missile, drawing a warning from Israel that Europe too should now worry about the Islamic republic's ballistic programme.
A US official said the Iran missile test appeared to be successful.
Ahmadinejad made the announcement in the northern city of Semnan , which lies close to the launch site, and Italy announced the last-minute cancellation of a visit by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini after it emerged that the Iranian president expected to receive him there.
"The defence minister (Mohammad Mostafa Najjar) told me today that we launched a Sejil-2 missile, which is a two-stage missile and it has reached the intended target," Ahmadinejad said.
"The missile was launched from here in Semnan," he added to cheers from the crowd.
"I was told that the missile is able to go beyond the atmosphere then come back and hit its target. It works on solid fuel," he added, without specifying the missile's range.
A US government official, speaking to AFP in Washington on condition of anonymity, said "initial indications are that it (test) was successful."
"At this point there's reason to believe it was a medium-range ballistic missile ," the US official said.
Frattini had been due in Iran later on Wednesday but his office announced that he would no longer be going after the venue for his meeting with Ahmadinejad was switched to near the missile test site.
"The visit of Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to Iran will not take place following Tehran's conditioning request to plan the protocol meeting with the Iranian president in a city other than the capital, in Semnan," a ministry statement said.
Israel said that the new test should be a source of concern for European countries as it meant Iran now had a missile that put them in range as well as the Jewish state.
"In terms of strategic importance, this new missile test doesn't change anything for us since the Iranians already tested a missile with a range of 1,500 kilometres (nearly 950 miles)," said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
"But it should worry the Europeans," Ayalon said.
"The Iranians are also trying to develop a ballistic missile with a range of 10,000 kilometres (6,250 miles) that could reach the coast of the United States."
The Iranian defence minister announced on November 12 that Iran had test-fired a new generation of ground-to-ground missile.
"This is a two-stage missile carrying two engines with combined solid fuel," Najjar said at the time, adding that the missile was named Sejil.
He said the new missile had "a range of close to 2,000 kilometres (1,350 miles)," sufficient to put Israel in range.
Iran has boasted in the past of developing new weapons systems only to be met with scepticism from Western defence analysts.
But hawkish new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Iran's missile technology and controversial nuclear programme pose a threat to the Jewish state greater than any it has faced since its creation in 1948.
Iran insists that its nuclear programme is aimed solely at producing electricity for a growing population once its fossil fuels run out.
But Israel -- which has the region's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal -- suspects it is cover for a drive for the bomb.
The UN Security Council has imposed three packages of sanctions against Iran after it failed to heed successive ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the process which makes fuel for nuclear power stations but in highly extended form can also produce the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
Ahmadinejad again insisted on Wednesday that Iran would not give in to international pressure over its nuclear programme.
"They (Western governments) said if you don't stop, we will adopt (sanctions) resolutions... They thought we would retreat but that will not happen," Ahmadinejad said.
"I told them you can adopt 100 sets of sanctions, but nothing will change."
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Graphic showing the potential range of the Iran's Shahab-3 which has a similar range of 2,000 kilometres (1,350 miles) to the Sejil-2 missile. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the Islamic republic has test-fired a new medium-range missile and insisted that there will be no climbdown over Iran's nuclear programme.
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