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Iran Launches War Games With Missile Tests

A picture combo made of grabs taken from footage broadcast by Iran's Al-Alam TV 19 February 2007 shows Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards performing missile tests at an unidentified location in Iran. Iran's ideological army launched three days of war games today with a succession of missile tests aimed at improving defensive capabilities. The "Power Manoeuvre" war games by the elite force in 16 of Iran's 30 provinces come at a time of mounting tension with the United States over Iran's nuclear programme and allegations it is arming militias in Iraq. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Aresu Eqbali
Tehran (AFP) Feb 20, 2007
Iran's ideological army, the elite Revolutionary Guards, launched three days of war games on Monday with a succession of missile tests aimed at improving defensive capabilities. The "Power Manoeuvre" exercises involving 3,000 units of the elite force in 16 of Iran's 30 provinces come at a time of mounting tension with the United States over Iran's nuclear programme and allegations it is arming militias in Iraq.

"With the firing of short-, medium- and long-range missiles by the Revolutionary Guards, 'Power Manoeuvre' has started," the state news agency IRNA reported.

It is the latest show of force by Iran's elite military in the face of Washington's increasingly tough rhetoric although US officials have been at pains to deny speculation of a planned military strike.

IRNA said a total of 750 missiles and canon munitions would be fired during the exercises, being staged less than two weeks after similar manoeuvres by the Guards' air force and naval units.

Exercise spokesman General Nilforoushan told state television the war games were aimed at "upgrading the capabilities and readiness of defence of the military forces as well as the deployment of munitions and forces in the early hours of a war".

"We will also carry out offensive exercises with anti-helicopter and anti-aircraft weapons," said the spokesman, whose first name was not given.

"Once, having military weapons with a range of up to 50 kilometres (30 miles) was our ideal. But the Guards now have access to rockets and missiles of a range of more than 200 kilometres (125 miles)," said Nilforoushan.

He told the Fars news agency later that the armed forces had tested successfully a laser-guided anti-tank missile that can be launched by a Russian-designed T-72 tank.

Brigadier General Abbas Khani, the commander of an artillery and missile unit, said Fajr 3 and 5 and Zelzal missiles would be test-fired.

Zelzal (Quake) has a range of 100 to 400 kilometres (60 to 250 miles). The Fajr 5 (Dawn) can hit a target about 70 kilometres (44 miles) away, while the Fajr 3 has a slightly shorter range.

The Guards earlier this month staged naval and air manoeuvres during which they said they successfully testfired a land-to-sea cruise missile capable of hitting warships in the Gulf and as far as the northern Indian Ocean.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, a charge denied by Tehran which insists its atomic programme is peaceful in nature.

Although Washington has said it wants the long-running standoff resolved through diplomacy, it has never ruled out military action to thwart Iran's atomic drive.

Iran is facing a deadline this week set by the UN Security Council to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can make nuclear fuel or the core of an atom bomb.

US President George W. Bush has ordered a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf and US forces have stepped up raids in Iraq on networks supplying Iranian arms to Iraqi militias.

US officials said this month that Iranian forces were supplying Shiite militias with sophisticated bombs and training, claims some analysts said appeared timed to step up pressure on Iran at a time when a diplomatic confrontation over its nuclear programme is reaching a critical stage.

But American officials have repeatedly denied that the United States was trying to prepare the ground for military action.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Putin Denies Passing Missile Technology To Iran
Munich (RIA Novosti) Feb 15, 2007
Russia has not passed missile technology to Iran, but other countries, including European, did, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday. The Islamic Republic has been under international pressure since it resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, which some Western countries suspect is part of a covert nuclear weapons program.

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