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. Iran conducts new Shahab-3 missile test with observers present: minister
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 20, 2004
Iran carried out a new test on Wednesday of its upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which it says has a range of at least 2,000 kilometres (about 1,200 miles), Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said.

"A few minutes ago we carried out a new test of the Shahab-3 missile in the presence of observers," he said.

Steady progress made by Iran on its ballistic missile programme is a major cause for concern for the international community, already alarmed over the country's nuclear activities.

"We tested the range, the destructive capacity, the guidance system and its capacity to hit a defined target," the defence minister said, quoted by the student news agency ISNA.

"We invited all those who had doubts (over the missile) but there were no foreign observers," he said. "Some people had expressed doubts over the success of our (last) test (on August 11) ... so we carried out a new test."

He refused to specify the missile's range. "We do not reveal the range of our missiles," Shamkhani said.

But after the test in August, Nasser Maleki, deputy director of Iran's aerospace industry organisation, said the upgraded Shahab-3 -- believed to be based on a North Korean design -- had a range of 2,000 kilometres.

"Very certainly we are going to improve our Shahab-3 missile and all of our other missiles," he said on October 7.

Previous figures had put the missile's range at between 1,300 and 1,700 kilometres, already bringing arch-enemy Israel and US bases in the region well within range.

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