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Iran To Focus On Missiles, Air Defences: DM Nominee

Iran's nominated Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar listens to Iran's new hardline President Mahmood Ahmadinejad delivering a speech while presenting his proposed cabinet to conservative controlled parliament 21 August 2005. Ahmadinejad lashed out at the West and liberalism and vowed a culture that 'promotes virtue and prohibits vice'. AFP photo by Atta Kenare.

Tehran (AFP) Aug 23, 2005
Iran's main military objectives are the development of its air defences as well as its ballistic missiles, the man nominated to be the Islamic republic's defence minister said Tuesday.

In a confirmation hearing before parliament, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar outlined "developing and expanding the air defence system and missiles" as "highlights of the programmes of the defence industries".

The speech by Najjar, who like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a veteran of the elite Revolutionary Guards, also outlined the development of "nanotechnology, information, developing modern ammunitions ... and equipment for electronic warfare" as priorities for the defence sector.

Tehran's rapid progress on its ballistic missile program is a major cause for concern among the international community, with Israel alarmed over Iran's nuclear activities.

Iran said it achieved a major breakthrough in May when it successfully tested a new solid fuel motor for its arsenal of medium-range ballistic missiles.

The new technology could be built into Iran's Shahab-3 missile, which the Islamic republic says already has a range of at least 2,000 kilometres (1,280 miles).

Military analysts also say Iran has developed a strong air defence system amid speculation that the United States or Israel could attempt air or missile strikes against its controversial nuclear facilities.

The Iranian parliament has since Sunday been hearing from each member of Ahmadinejad's 21-man cabinet.

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US, North Korea Make Third Contact To Break Nuclear Impasse
Washington (AFP) Aug 23, 2005
The United States and North Korea held direct talks Monday for the third time in a week ahead of a resumption of multilateral negotiations aimed at ending the Stalinist state's nuclear weapons program.

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