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Iran tests Israel-centric missile

Iran has test-fired in its central desert a ballistic missile capable of striking Israel as part of war games designed to show its ability to retaliate if attacked, the media said on Tuesday.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard fired the medium-range Shahab 3 missile at a mock target in the Kavir Desert on the second day of its Great Prophet 7 exercise, which is due to end on Wednesday, Iran's Al-Alam television network reported. The Shahab 3 has a range of up to 2,000 kilometres, which means that it can theoretically hit Israel, which is some 1,000 kilometres away.

Al-Alam said two short-range missiles, the Shahab 1 and Shahab 2, with ranges of 300 to 500 kilometres, were also launched.

The Fars news agency said 'dozens' of different types of missiles were fired from different parts of Iran at a single target in the Kavir Desert.

'In these exercises, we used missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometres, but the plan called for them to be fired only 1,300 kilometres,' Fars quoted the head of the Guards aerospace division in charge of missile systems, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, as saying. The ISNA news agency said the last day of the drill would see Revolutionary Guard 'bomber drones' also used.

Although the Islamic republic has test-fired its Shahab missiles before, and frequently holds military manoeuvres, it says these war games are aimed at sending a message to Israel and the United States to think twice on their threats of possibly attacking Iran.

'The message of these Grand Prophet 7 manoeuvres is to show the determination, the will and the power of the Iranian people in defending their national interests and core values,' the number two of the Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, said, according to the official IRNA news agency. 'It's a reaction to those who are politically discourteous to the Iranian people by saying “all options are on the table”,' he said.

The launch of the Shahab 3 missile coincided with the day experts from Iran and world powers were to hold talks in Istanbul to discuss the West's push to have Tehran scale back its sensitive nuclear programme.


US STRENGTHENS FORCE IN PERSIAN GULF

US has moved more warships and fighter aircraft to the Persian Gulf to keep the strategic Straits of Hormuz open and strike deep within Iran if the stand-off over its nuclear programme escalates.

Quoting senior American officials, the New York Times said the new deployment to bolster military presence in the gulf is aimed at reassuring Israel that Washington is serious about neutralising Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The reports of US moving new forces to the region came as Tehran announced that it had test-fired a new range of ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel.

Iranian news agency IRNA said Iran's revolutionary guards had fired 2,000 kilometer range Shahab-3 missiles in the Kavir Desert in central Iran as part of its war games designs to show its ability to hit back, if attacked. IRNA also said that along with the medium range Shahab-3 Iran had also test fired 300-500 kms strike distance Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 missiles. The Times quoted senior US officials as saying that Washington was determined to keep the strategic waterway open at all costs.

'The message to Iran is, 'don't even think about it',' one senior Defense Department official said.

'Don't even think about closing the strait. We'll clear the mines. Don't even think about sending your fast boats out to harass our vessels or commercial shipping. We'll put them on the bottom of the gulf,' the official said.
Times
said since late spring, stealth F-22 and older F-15C warplanes had moved into two separate bases in the Persian Gulf.


IRAN ACCUSES WORLD POWERS OF DRAGGING THEIR FEET IN N-TALKS

Iran accused world powers on Tuesday of dragging their feet in negotiations over its nuclear activities, as both sides were about to hold a new, downgraded round of talks in Istanbul.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a weekly briefing that, if the powers ignored Iran's nuclear ‘rights’ and failed to bargain on equal terms, the negotiations could lead to an ‘impasse’. ‘All that can reinforce the idea that there is a desire to drag out the negotiations or prevent their success,’ he said. He also said to reporters after the briefing that ‘illogical, irresponsible’ Western sanctions ‘amount to a hostile act against Iran and its national interests.’

He added: ‘Iran will do its utmost to defend its national interests and territorial integrity.’ Iran and the P5+1 group comprising the five UN Security Council permanent members [Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States] plus Germany were to hold an experts-level meeting in Istanbul to discuss efforts to curb Tehran's atomic activities. The talks were to take place between technical experts after three previous rounds earlier this year, at a more senior political level, failed to bridge the vast gap dividing the two sides.

Iran is insisting it has a ‘right’ to uranium enrichment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that that be recognised by the P5+1. It also wants Western sanctions punishing its economy to be eased.

The P5+1 is pushing for an immediate end to Iran enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity and to ship out its existing 20 per cent stock.
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