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Page last updated at 21:25 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 22:25 UK

Iran 'faked missile test image'

Iran has been accused of doctoring an image from its missile tests

Iran has been accused of altering an image of a missile test, possibly to exaggerate its military capabilities.

Iran announced on Wednesday it had test-fired nine missiles, including one it said was capable of reaching Israel.

Four missiles appear to take off from a desert launch pad in one image of the test published on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards website.

But a similar image has emerged that shows one missile still in its launcher after apparently failing to fire.

Analysts said that in the image apparently showing four missiles taking off, one of the projectiles was added using elements from the smoke trail and dust clouds from two of the other successfully launched missiles.

'Doctored'

The image said to have been digitally altered was disseminated by the AFP news agency and reproduced by media organisations around the world - including the BBC News website, which removed it from pages when doubts about its authenticity were raised.

Defence analyst Mark Fitzpatrick

AFP said it had obtained the image from the website of Sepah News, the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the Associated Press news agency distributed what appeared to be a nearly identical photo from the same source, but without the fourth missile firing.

AFP subsequently issued a warning to its clients.

The BBC News website's picture editor, Phil Coomes, said: "Having examined the photograph from AFP, it can be seen that parts have been edited, with smoke trails and parts of the foreground being cloned."

Defence analyst Mark Fitzpatrick of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies told AFP: "It very much does appear that Iran doctored the photo to cover up what apparently was a misfiring of one of the missiles.

"The whole purpose of this testing was to send a signal so Iran both exaggerated the capabilities of the missile in their prose and apparently doctored the photos as well."





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