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. US Says Iran Weapons Tests A Concern

Iran's other marine based weapon.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Apr 04, 2006
Iran's test-firing of what it called a highly destructive torpedo, atop tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions, is a "concern", a State Department spokesman said Monday.

"The fact that in three days you've had the test of a missile, as well as the reported test of a torpedo of new capability, demonstrates a weaponization program by Iran that does nothing to reassure Iran's neighbors or the international community," deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters. "It certainly is of concern."

But Ereli said the US is committed to resolving through diplomacy the issue of Iran's uranium enrichment operation -- which the US believes masks a nuclear weapon program.

"The United States has made it clear ... that we are committed to a diplomatic solution because we believe a diplomatic solution can work," he said.

Iran meanwhile warned the West Monday not to "play with fire" after it test-fired what it described as a highly destructive torpedo in war games in the Gulf.

On Friday Iran also announced the successful test of a new multiple warhead missile capable of evading radar detection.

Ereli said Iran's stance has hurt potential diplomacy.

"The reason we're at a standstill is not because the United States isn't in negotiations.

"The reason we're at a standstill is because Iran, with single-minded purpose, is thumbing its nose at the international community ... and moving with apparently great determination to develop an enrichment capability," of uranium, which could be used for bombs.

An anonymous senior State Department source said Tehran's arms demonstration "demonstrates a show of force designed to intimidate. That behaviour is quite characteristic of the regime."

None of the EU-3 -- France, Germany and Britain -- who are leading negotiations over Iran's nuclear ambitions -- have asked Washington to talk directly to Tehran, the source said.

Ereli also said that Iran had rejected US offers of aid for victims of last week's powerful earthquake in western Iran, which killed 70 people and left 1,300 injured.

He said that Iran's UN ambassador, Jawad Zarif, told Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns Saturday that the Iranian government was very appreciative of the offer of assistance and the condolences, but that they did not need the assistance at this time. Pentagon skeptical but not discounting Iran missile strides

Source: Agence France-Presse

related report

Pentagon Skeptical But Not Discounting Iran Missile Strides
Washington (AFP) Apr 04 - Iran may have overstated claims to have developed radar-absorbing materials capable of hampering the targeting of its ballistic missiles, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday, adding however, that Tehran's weapons program also could be "making strides."

The US Defense Department reaction followed Iran's announcement Friday that it has test-fired a missile that can "hide from radars" and whose multiple warheads can accurately strike different targets at the same time.

"It is possible they are increasing their capability in making strides in radar absorbing material and targeting," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.

"However, the Iranians have been known to boast and exaggerate their statements about greater technical and tactical capabilities," he said.

The missile test, conducted on the first day of a weeklong Iranian military exercise in the oil-rich Gulf and the Sea of Oman, comes amid growing tension between the United States and Iran over its nuclear program.

The exercise is centered around the Strait of Hormuz, the mouth of the Gulf through which 80 percent of the Gulf's oil is shipped.

The weapon tested on Friday was described a new generation missile developed by Iranian scientists and incorporating multiple warhead technology.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards air force, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, told Iranian state television it was capable both of evading radar and anti-missile weapons.

The Iranian military said it also successfully tested a new high-speed torpedo on Monday and will hold other missile tests during the exercise.

Whitman said Tehran regards ballistic missiles as its primary deterrent against attack and has the largest inventory of them in the Middle East.

He said Friday's test was not surprising.

"Over the past year, Iran has continued testing of its medium range ballistic missile," he said. "And it also has tested anti-ship missiles."

"We know the Iranians are always trying to improve their weapons system by both foreign and indigenous measures," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
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Iran Flexes Military Muscle Amid Nuclear Standoff
Tehran (AFP) Apr 04, 2006
Iran on Monday test-fired what it described as a highly destructive torpedo in war games in the Gulf, warning the West not to "play with fire" at a time of mounting tensions over its nuclear program.

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