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Friday, 22 September, 2000, 07:14 GMT 08:14 UK
Iran test-fires rocket
ranian armed forces dispay the countrys hardware
Iran has been trying to achieve military self-sufficiency
Iran says it has test-fired a new version of its medium-range missile, as part of events commemorating the start of the Iran-Iraq war 20 years ago.

Iranian state television showed footage of the launch in what it said was a remote area: The updated Shahab-3 missile was shown rising vertically from a mobile launcher.

Iran's Shahab-3 missile
The parade marked the missile's first public appearance
Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said that the solid-liquid fuel missile had been designed to put satellites into orbit and not for military purposes.

However a US intelligence official said Washington did not view the Shahab-3 as a space-launch vehicle, but as a missile.

Admiral Shamkhani said that Iran's defence industry did not produce offensive weapons: "No military use has been forecast for Shahab-3".

He did not mention the capability of the missile, but Iran has previously said it had a range of 1,300km.

Iran 'a security threat'

In Washington, Robert Walpole of the National Intelligence Council, which reports to the Central Intelligence Agency, urged a US congressional hearing not to take Iran's announcement at face value.

Shahab-3 missile... will allow Iran to reach Israel and most of Saudi Arabia and Turkey

US National Intelligence Officer
He repeated the council's assessment that Iran continued to pose a security threat to the United States.

Mr Walpole said that Iran had one of the largest ballistic missile programmes in the Middle East, and would soon deploy the Shahab-3 "which will allow Iran to reach Israel and most of Saudi Arabia and Turkey".

He said that Iran got most of its help in developing the missiles from Russia, North Korea and China.

Self-sufficiency drive

Since the war with Iraq, when the Iranian armed forces were severely handicapped by a western arms embargo, Tehran has embarked on a strategy of copying and developing military hardware to achieve self-sufficiency.

Armed volunteers of the Iranian Basiji Islamic militia parading on the anniversary
The Baseej were the shock troops during the war with Iraq
Until the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran bought its weaponry from the United States.

It has since succeeded in producing light machine guns, missiles, armoured personnel carriers and tanks.

Last month Tehran launched its first domestically produced mini-submarine.

The Iranian news agency said that the Al-Sabehat-15 submarine was designed to plant mines and carry out reconnaissance missions.

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See also:

29 Aug 00 | Middle East
Iran launches its first submarine
25 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iran pledges Gulf co-operation
11 Sep 99 | Middle East
UAE slams Iran over 'Gulf tension'
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