TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) # Iran has conducted a final test on a long-range, surface-to-surface missile capable of reaching arch-enemy Israel, Tehran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday. “It happened a few weeks ago, it was a delivery test. The missile has the same range we announced before,” spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. Asked to clarify what he meant by “delivery test,” he said: “It was the final test.”
The Shabad-3 ballistic missile, first tested in 1998, has a range of 1,300 km (800 miles). It is based on the North Korean Nodong-1 missile but has been improved with Russian technology.
The test comes as U.N. atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei prepares to visit Tehran this week to seek clarification of Iran’s nuclear programme.
The United States has accused Iran of developing nuclear arms, a charge Tehran strongly denies. It says its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes and its missiles are for deterrence only.
Iranian Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani has denied reports Tehran planned to develop an even bigger missile, Shahab-4, and said Iran had increased the accuracy and explosive load of the Shahab-3 instead.
Confronted with a Western embargo since the 1980-88 war against Iraq, Iran has embarked on a strategy of copying and developing military hardware.
In recent years the Islamic Republic has announced the production of locally designed missiles, a fighter plane, tanks and armoured personnel carriers.