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Iran Fires First Longer-Range Missiles In War Games

Iran's Revolutionary Guards fire test missiles during the first phase of military manoeuvres in the central desert outside the holy city of Qom, 02 November 2006. Photo courtesy of AFP.

Iran "not capable" of creating intercontinental missiles: Russia
Moscow (AFP) Nov 2 - Iran does not have the technological means to create intercontinental ballistic missiles, the head of Russian military's general staff Yury Baluyevsky told ITAR-TASS news agency Thursday. Baluyevsky's remarks came shortly after Iran reportedly fired its longer-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile on exercise for the first time.

"If we are talking about intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to our information, Iran does not possess the technological capability" to create missiles with a 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) range, Baluyevsky said. "In any case, this will be monitored by our intelligence services," Baluyevsky added.

Thursday's missile test marked the beginning of 10 days of war games in Iran amid a mounting standoff with the West over its nuclear program. The hardline Revolutionary Guards fired the Shahab-3 missiles, which have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) -- sufficient to threaten US bases in the Gulf -- during the first phase of maneuvers in the centeral desert, state television reported.

The manuevers came hot on the heels of of naval exercises launched in the Gulf on Monday by a US-led flotilla including warships from Australia, Bahrain, France, Italy and Britain. When asked whether Iran's Shehab-3 missiles posed a threat to Russia, Baluyevsky responded: "That depends on which direction they are sent."

by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Nov 2, 2006
Iran fired its longer-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile for the first time Thursday as it began 10 days of war games amid a mounting standoff with the West over its nuclear program, official media said. The hardline Revolutionary Guards fired the missiles, which have a range of up to 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) -- sufficient to threaten US bases in the Gulf -- during the first phase of military maneuvers in the central desert, state television reported.

"Shahab missiles, carrying cluster warheads, with a range of 2,000 kilometres, were fired from the desert near (Iran's clerical capital) Qom," it said.

"Dozens of Shahab-2 and -3, Zolfaghar-73, Scud B, Fath-110 and Zelzal have been launched in the presence of (Guards chief) General Yahya Rahim Safavi, and other high-ranking commanders," the television said.

"The cluster head of the Shahab-2 has the capability to disperse 1,400 bomblets with great destructive power."

It was the first time that Iran had fired the longer-range Shahab-3 on exercise and commanders said they would also be employing other "new equipment" during the war games.

Russia said it would monitor Iran's military moves after the reports of the missile-firing but ruled out the possibility that the Islamic republic had the technological means to create even longer-range missiles.

"If we are talking about intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to our information, Iran does not possess the technological capability" to create missiles with a 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) range, the head of Russian military's general staff Yury Baluyevsky told ITAR-TASS news agency.

Dubbed "Great Prophet 2," the air, land and sea maneuvers are to extend across 14 provinces "with the focus on the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman," Safavi said Wednesday.

"The first and main goal of this exercise is to demonstrate power and national determination to defend the country against any possible threat," he said.

"Heliport operations will be carried out in the Hormozgan region (on the Strait of Hormuz) and some of the Persian Gulf islands."

The strategic Strait of Hormuz is the obligatory passage for tankers exiting the Gulf that carry much of the world's oil supply.

The Iranian maneuvers come on the heels of naval exercises launched in the Gulf on Monday by a US-led flotilla including warships from Australia, Bahrain, France, Italy and Britain.

"That is a propaganda and political maneuver without military value," Safavi said then.

"If forces from out of the region want to jeopardize Iran's security and interests, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij (volunteer militia) will use all their capabilities to strike their enemies and their interests," he warned.

But the Guards commander insisted Iran's exercises were no threat to its neighbors.

"This maneuver is no threat for the region or neighboring countries," he said, adding: "Our neighbors are our friends and we consider our neighbors' enemies our enemies."

The aim of the exercises was the "defence of sensitive centres, strategic bottlenecks and confrontation of possible troubles," he said.

It is Iran's third round of war games this year. In August, the armed forces held country-wide maneuvers dubbed Zolfaghar Blow. Iran also staged Great Prophet 1 exercises in April.

The new war games come amid a mounting standoff between Iran and the West over its nuclear program after the European Union pronounced at an end talks on a negotiated solution to Western concerns that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

earlier related report
US chides Iran for 'saber-rattling' missile launches
Washington (AFP) Nov 2 - Washington chided Tehran for its "saber-rattling" Thursday after Iran fired a new long-range missile for the first time.

Iranian forces launched the Shahab-3 ballistic missile as they began 10 days of war games that coincide with US-led efforts to impose UN-mandated sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

The exercises also came as a US-led naval force carried out its own maneuvers near Iran in a test of capabilities to halt trafficking in weapons of mass destruction -- an iniative seen as a clear message to the Islamic republic.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack played down the implications of the Iranian military maneuvers.

"I wouldn't read anything in particular into the significance of these exercises," he said.

He said the apparent "saber-rattling on the part of Iran just underscores the fact that Iran is at this point in time, with this regime, not a source of stability in the region."

"I think it is a source of potential instability," he said.

The hardline Revolutionary Guards fired the Shahab-3 missiles, which have a range of up to 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) -- sufficient to threaten US bases in the Gulf -- during the first phase of military maneuvers in the central Iranian desert, Iran's state television reported.

It was the first time that Iran had fired the longer-range Shahab-3 on exercise and commanders said they would also be employing other "new equipment" during the war games.

The United States meanwhile insisted it was on track for obtaining a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program despite the lack of any indication of progress in the talks.

The five veto-wielding permament members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- have been wrangling for weeks over a possible sanctions package for Iran, but have not yet reached agreement.

China and Russia, both close economic partners with Iran, have resisted all but symbolic measures against Tehran while there are also differences between Washington and its close European allies on the terms of a sanctions resolution.

The sanctions should have followed Iran's rejection of an earlier Security Council resolution requiring it to freeze its uranium reprocessing activities by August 31.

Iran insists the program is aimed at providing fuel for nuclear power plants while Washington and others suspect the ultimate aim is to develop atomic weapons.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called her four big power counterparts on Tuesday in a bid to spur on the sanctions negotiations and her top deputy followed up with more calls on Wednesday, McCormack said, asserting that negotiations at the United Nations are often a lengthy affair.

"The bottom line is, at the end of these negotiations on a resolution, we believe we are going to get a good, strong resolution that sends a message to Iran that it must come into line with what the international community has demanded that they do," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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