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Americas Americas

US official confirms Iranian missile launch

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-05-21

Iran has successfully test fired what appears to be a medium-range ballistic missile, a US official said on Wednesday. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in response that Iran risks sparking a regional arms race.

Iran appears to have successfully test-fired a medium-range missile, a US official confirmed on Wednesday after Iran's president announced the launch.
"Initial indications are that it was successful," a US government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. "At this point there's reason to believe it was a medium-range ballistic missile," the official said.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced earlier that Iran had carried out a successful test of a new two-stage, medium-range missile, drawing a warning from Israel that Europe too should now worry about the Islamic republic's ballistic program.
"The defense minister (Mohammad Mostafa Najjar) told me today that we launched a Sejil-2 missile, which is a two-stage missile and it has reached the intended target," said Ahmadinejad, without specifying the range.


Iran risks sparking 'arms race'


In response to the announcement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she intends to explain to Iran it is not in its interest to acquire a nuclear weapon because it would spark a Middle East arms race.
"Our goal is to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear-weapons program," Clinton told a Senate subcommittee overseeing State Department funding.
"A nuclear-armed Iran with a deliverable weapons system is going to spark an arms race in the Middle East and the greater region," she told senators who asked about diplomatic strategy with Tehran if it accepts President Barack Obama's invitation to dialogue.
"That is not going to be in the interests of Iranian security. And we believe we have a very strong case to make for that," the chief US diplomat said.
The Defense Department meanwhile declined to comment on the details of the launch but said the United States remained concerned about Tehran's ballistic missile effort.
"We have consistently expressed our serious concerns about Iran's missile developments and their continued efforts in this area," spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
He said Iran had to choose whether it wanted to improve its relations with the United States and other countries or face further isolation.
"Iran is at a bit of a crossroads," Whitman said.
"They have a choice to make: they can either continue on this path of continued destabilization in the region or they can decide that they want to pursue relationships with countries in the region and the United States that are more normalized."


Date created : 2009-05-20