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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 September, 2004, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Iran approves 'strategic missile'
Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani
The missiles have been delivered to the military, said Shamkhani
Iran has confirmed that it successfully test-fired what it calls a "strategic missile" during recent military exercises.

Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani told Iranian state media that following the test, the missiles had now been delivered to the armed forces.

He did not name the missile or give details of its range.

The announcement comes amid tensions over Iran's nuclear programme, which it insists is for peaceful purposes.

Power and range

"This strategic missile was successfully test-fired during... military exercises by the Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the armed forces," Mr Shamkhani said.

He was quoted by Iran's student news agency, Isna, as saying that it was better than another unspecified missile for four reasons - it was more powerful, more accurate, faster and had a longer range.

The French AFP news agency said it was not clear whether or not the minister was talking about an improved version of the Shahab-3 medium-range missile, which it said had been tested in August.

It said the Shahab-3 was based on a North Korean design and had a range of 800 miles (1,300km).

Iran's resolve

The week-long exercises began on 12 September near the country's border with Iraq.

Military officials said it was intended to demonstrate Iran's resolve to defend itself against "big powers."

Iran on Thursday warned Israel it would react "most severely" if Israel used force to try to destroy its nuclear facilities.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was responding to reports that the United States is to sell Israel hundreds of "bunker-busting" bombs.

Earlier in the month, Iran's Revolutionary Guards staged military exercises near the country's border with Iraq.

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