Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iran confirms it has developed long-range missile capability

Haaretz Daily:
Iran confirmed for the first time Wednesday that it has fully developed solid fuel technology in producing missiles, a major breakthrough that increases the accuracy of missiles hitting targets. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told The Associated Press that Iran has made an "important step forward" in developing the technology, which provides the Islamic Republic with the ability to fire solid-fuel engine ballistic missiles like the Shahab-3. The Shahab-3, with a range of 1,300 kilometers (810 miles) to more than 1,930 kilometers (1,200 miles), is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East. READ MORE

"We have fully achieved proficiency in solid fuel technology in producing missiles," said Shamkhani in Iran's first declaration that it has locally developed full access to solid fuel missile technology. Such technology enables the production of solid fuel, which makes missiles more durable and dramatically increases their accuracy in reaching targets. Missiles using liquid fuel are short-lived. "It's an important step forward, an important achievement. It's a locally developed achievement," said Shamkhani. Iran said last month it has successfully tested a solid fuel motor for its medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile. The motor was one of two engines developed for the Shahab-3. The minister said no flight test of Shahab-3 missile has been carried out using solid fuel. However, he did say that Iran has used solid fuel with its Fateh-110 short-range missile sometime ago, but it was unclear if the fuel was made in Iran or came from outside. The Shahab-3 ballistic missile is known as a single-stage device and military experts said the development of a second motor demonstrates a significant improvement in Iran's missile program. The Fateh-110 is a solid propellant surface-to-surface guided missile with a reported range of about 170 kilometers (105 miles) and is classified among Iran's most efficient missiles. Last November, Shamkhani said Iran was able to mass produce the Shahab-3 missile. The missile - whose name "Shahab" means shooting star in Farsi was last successfully tested in 2002 before equipping its elite Revolutionary Guards with it in July 2003. Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.