Iran shows off ballistic missiles sporting anti-Israeli, US slogans
TEHRAN (AFP) Sep 22, 2003
Iran put on show its new Shahab-3 ballistic missiles in a military parade Monday, with the rockets sporting slogans including "We will crush America under our feet" and "Israel must be wiped off the map".

Seven of the missiles were seen being rolled past a podium of the Islamic republic's leaders on their mobile launchers, the climax of a show of strength held to commemorate the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1980-88 war with Iraq.

According to a commentary given over loud-speakers lining the parade route, the missiles have "a range of 1,700 kilometers" (1,060 miles) and "are capable of hitting the heart of the enemy", an AFP journalist at the scene said.

The parade, kicking off a series of events during "Sacred Defence Week", was also carried on state television.

A final test of the Shahab-3 -- which brings arch-enemy Israel well within range of the country's armed forces -- was conducted earlier this year.

On July 20, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei presided over a ceremony that saw the missiles handed over for operation by the elite Revolutionary Guards, the hardline ideological spearhead of the nearly 25-year-old Islamic regime

Officials here have previously said the missile -- based on North Korea's No-Dong and Pakistan's Ghauri-II -- has a range of 1,300 kilometersmiles). It can reportedly carry a warhead weighing up to 1,000 kilogrammes (2,200 pounds).

In Farsi, Shahab means "meteor" or "shooting star".

The development of the missile has sparked alarm in Israel, which along with the United States also alleges that Iran is using an atomic energy programme as a cover for secret nuclear weapons development.