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. Europe could be within Iranian missile range: officer

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Feb 3, 2009
Iran's announcement that it has launched its first satellite would, if true, confirm that the Islamic republic has missiles capable of striking Israel and southeast Europe, a NATO officer said Tuesday.

However the officer said, on condition of anonymity, that it could take up to a week to verify whether Tehran's claim that it had sent an Omid (Hope) satellite into space carried by the home-built Safir-2 space rocket was true.

"It will take several days for all our countries to examine the information," the high-ranking officer said.

"First we will verify whether it is really a satellite and at what altitude it is travelling at," he said.

He noted the apparent "light weight of the satellite -- from 25 to 40 kilogrammes (55-88 pounds) -- and the quite low altitude, from 250 to 500 kilometres (155-310 miles), at which it would be flying."

"If this is confirmed, it would mean that their rockets are capable of firing 2,000-3,000 kilometres, and would therefore have the range to hit part of Europe and Israel," he said.

"It would be confirmation of their potential."

The officer said that NATO had developed an "Active Layer Theatre Missile Defence" (ALTMD) system to protect allies like Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey from such an eventuality.

He said that the ALTMD was a "mobile system, that can cover these territories, and their populations, for a range of 2,000 kilometres".

The United States has moved to expand its anti-missile shield into Europe, with 10 interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, to counter any threat from "rogue nations" like Iran.

But the shield would not cover southeast Europe, and NATO had been mulling whether to "bolt on" its ALTMD to the US system.

New US President Barack Obama has yet to make public his position on the shield, developed under predecessor George W. Bush, but a senior US official has said he could announce a review into its costs and progress made.

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Iran risks 'consequences' if it ignores UN: Clinton
Washington (AFP) Feb 3, 2009
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday warned Iran it faced consequences if it failed to respect UN resolutions demanding a halt to its uranium enrichment activities.

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