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. Iran army takes delivery of new missile: defence minister
TEHRAN (AFP) Sep 25, 2004
The Iranian army has taken delivery of a new "strategic missile", Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani was reported to have said Saturday.

The missile, unnamed for security reasons, was successfully tested last week, Shamkhani was quoted as saying by state television.

It was unclear if the weapon in question was the Shahab-3 medium-range missile, acquired by the Revolutionary Guards in July last year, of which an improved version was successfully tested in August.

The Shahab-3 is based on a North Korean design and is thought to be capable of carrying a one-tonne warhead at least 1,300 kilometers (800 miles), well within range of Israel.

Steady progress made by Iran's ballistic missile programme is a source of concern to the international community, adding to worries about the country's nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is peaceful.

The UN nuclear watchdog passed a resolution on Saturday setting a November 25 deadline for Iran to clear up suspicions over its nuclear activities or risk having the issue referred to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency resolution also demanded that Iran halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be used for both energy and weapons purposes.

Iran has repeatedly insisted that its nuclear programme is intended for domestic energy needs.

Iran says the Shahab-3 is simply a deterrent, while Israel charges that the Islamic state could have a nuclear warhead by 2007, leading to speculation that Israel may launch a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

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