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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 13:29 GMT
Israel missile test 'successful'
An Arrow anti-ballistic missile interceptor at launch in the US
Early versions of the missile were first deployed against Iraqi scuds
Israel has carried out a successful test of its Arrow missile defence system, military officials have said.

An Arrow missile intercepted and destroyed a target similar to Iran's long-range Shahab-3 missile.

The test was launched from an air force base in the centre of Israel and stuck a target over the Mediterranean.

Israel considers Iran its greatest threat and has been working to counter the Shahab missiles, which Tehran says can reach Israeli territory.

The Israeli military began developing the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system after coming under attack by Iraqi Scud missiles during the first Gulf War.

The Shahab-3 is believed to have a range of 2,000 km (1,250m).

Correspondents say nearly US $2.5bn has been invested in developing the missile defence system - two thirds of it paid by the United States.

'Existential threat'

"The test's success is a major step in the system's operational improvements to deal with future incoming ballistic missile threats," an Israeli defence ministry the defence ministry said.

The statement described the test as a "routine development test".

Some security officials in Israel have described Iran, with a nuclear programme that some governments believe is aimed at building a nuclear bomb, as Israel's greatest threat to its existence.

Israeli Prime Minister warned on Thursday that Israel "cannot accept a situation in which Iran would be in possession of nuclear weapons".

"We must do everything possible to prepare for such a situation. But Israel is not spearheading any campaign [against Iran's suspected nuclear weapons ambitions]," Mr Sharon said.

Iran insists that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

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