Iran starts production of new short-range Raad missile
TEHRAN (AFP) Jan 25, 2004
Iran announced Sunday it was boosting its defence systems with the production launch of a new line of Raad missiles to be deployed in the Gulf region.

"We have inaugurated the production line for the Raad (Thunder) missiles which have undergone tests in various different circumstances," Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said on state television.

The Raad's range "triples" that of Iran's Noor missile, already deployed by Iran's armed forces and which has a range of 120 kilometres (75 miles), the minister said, quoted by the student news agency ISNA.

State radio and television had earlier reported that the Raad has a range of about 150 kilometres (90 miles).

The Raad missiles can be used shore-to-sea or ship-to-ship, and they will be installed on Iran's Gulf coast or islands or on warships, the defence minister said.

"We have islands scattered in the Gulf, so we will now have plenty of defence capability in the region," Shamkhani said. "Our ballistic missile industry has turned a page and the Islamic republic's defence capabilities have been considerably increased."

Iran caused international concern last year when the air force of the hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps took delivery of several domestically built Shahab-3 missiles, with a range of between 1,300 and 1,500 kilometres (between 800 and 1,000 miles), sufficient to reach Israel.

Shamkhani warned last month it would consider using the Shahab-3 missiles if Israel struck its nuclear facilities.

On Sunday, state radio and television also announced the start of production of radar-guidance systems for the Noor missile.