The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Defense Ministry experts described last weeks test as an unprecedented success in Irans missile program. Iran Focus
Tehran, Aug 25 A senior Iranian Defense Ministry official confirmed that contrary to the official announcement, the missile tested last week was a Shahab-4 and not simply an improved version of Shahab-3 missile, Iran Focus has learnt.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Defense Ministry experts described last weeks test as an unprecedented success in Irans missile program. He said the new missile had made a 100 percent improvement compared with Shahab-3, with its range being extended from 1,300 km to 2,500 km.
The official noted that the accuracy of the new missile had also undergone a marked improvement.
Last week, Irans Defense Ministry, in a brief statement carried on the official news agency IRNA, said the test of the new Shahab-3 "was carried out successfully ... The pre-determined targets were hit in the testing," it said.
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said in anticipation of the test that Iran was working to improve the range and accuracy of the Shahab-3 in response to Israel's moves to boost its anti-missile capability.
"The Israelis have recently tried to increase their missile capability and we will also try to upgrade our Shahab-3 missile in every respect," the ISNA students news agency quoted Shamkhani as saying last week.
He said the improvements to the Shahab-3 "will not be limited to the missile's range and will include all its specifications."
The reason why the official announcement described the newly-tested missile as an improved version of Shahab-3 and made no mention of its real designation, the Shahab-4, was that Tehran wants to avoid the strong international reactions that the testing of a new mark of missiles would entail.
Last week, the U.S. State Department said Iran's attempts to improve its missile capability were a threat to the region and U.S. interests. "We will continue to take steps to address Iran's missile efforts, and to work closely with other like-minded countries in doing so," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.
The Shahab-3 is based on the North Korean Nodong-1 and modified with Russian technology, having a range of 1,300 km.
The new Shahab-4 missiles design included improved guidance components and a range of 2,500-2,900 kilometers with a warhead weight on the order of 1,000-760 kilograms. The Shahab-4 would be capable of hitting targets as far away as Germany and Western China.
Defense Minister Shamkhani was quoted as saying in the February 8, 1998, issue of Florida Today, that the "Shahab-4 missile now in development would be used to carry satellites into space--- not for military purposes."
Shamkhani told a press conference on February 7, 1999, "that the engine tests of the longer-range Shahab-4 will begin soon.
Irans missile program has aroused grave concern around the world, particularly in light of the international communitys failure to end Tehrans nuclear weapons program. The threat to regional and global peace and security becomes more pronounced as top Iranian officials raise the stakes with defiant vows. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani has hinted that some Iranian generals believe that if they sense an imminent US threat, they should strike first against US troops in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.
Shamkhani said in a recent interview with Al-Jazeera Arab television: "Some commanders believe pre-emptive operations were not created by the Americans and are not exclusive for their use. Any nation, if it feels threatened, may resort to that."