Iranian authorities say the country's armed forces have test-fired medium- and short-range missiles over the weekend, as tensions mount between Tehran and Western powers over Iran's nuclear programme.
REUTERS - Iran has test-fired medium-range misiles, state TV reported on Monday, a day after the Islamic Republic’s elite Revolutionary Guards launched short-range missiles as part of several days of war games.
The manoeuvres coincide with increased tension in Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West, after last week’s disclosure by Tehran that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant.
“Iran test-fires medium-range missiles,” English-language Press TV said in a scrolling news headline, giving no further detail on the type of missiles or when the test took place.
Iranian media had said the Guards would test-fire Shahab 1 and 2 missiles on Sunday evening, with a range of up to 500 km (310 miles), but it was not immediately clear whether these were the missiles Press TV was referring to.
State radio has said the force will on Monday test-fire the Shahab 3 missile, which Iranian officials say has a range of around 2,000 km, potentially putting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf within reach. It was last tested in mid-2008.
Iran conducts war games or tests weapons to show its resolve to counter any attack by foes like Israel or the United States.
The United States, which suspects Iran is seeking to build nuclear bombs, has previously expressed concern about Tehran’s missile programme. Iran says its nuclear work is solely for peaceful power generation purposes.
Neither the United States nor its ally Israel have ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear row.
Iran has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route for world oil supplies.
Last week’s news of the nuclear facility south of Tehran added a sense of urgency to a crucial meeting in Geneva on Thursday between Iranian officials and representatives of six major powers, including the United States.
Iran will be put “to the test” in Geneva and a move to sanctions will follow if the talks fail, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CBS on Sunday.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday the discovery of the secret nuclear plant in Iran showed a “disturbing pattern” of evasion by Tehran. He warned Iran on Friday it would face “sanctions that bite” if it did not come clean.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who says any military action against Iran would only “buy time” and stresses the need for diplomacy, told CNN he hoped the disclosure of the second facility would force Tehran to make concessions.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, has said Iran is arranging inspections of the plant by the U.N. nuclear agency “in the very near future”.
Date created : 2009-09-28