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. Iran uninterested in missile that can reach Europe: minister
TEHRAN (AFP) Feb 02, 2005
Iran's defence minister insisted on Wednesday that the Islamic republic was not seeking to develop a ballistic missile with a range greater than 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles).

"Iran has the technical capacity to respond to its needs but does not need to make such a missile," Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani was quoted as saying by student news agency ISNA.

"This is just Zionist propaganda," he said, when asked if Iran was seeking to boost its missile range to 3,000 kilometres -- and bring parts of eastern and southern Europe within range.

"There is no threatening target in Europe," Shamkhani added.

Iran has recently upgraded the Shahab-3 ballistic missile -- believed to be based on a North Korean design -- which some officials say has a range of at least 2,000 kilometres (about 1,200 miles).

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

Tehran's steady progress on its ballistic missile programme is a major cause for concern among an international community already alarmed over Iran's nuclear activities.

Many diplomats argue that the ballistic missile programme is proof of a nuclear weapons drive, although Iran insists its missiles are merely a deterrent and conventional in nature.

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