TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Tuesday its missiles now have a range of more than 1,200 miles, a substantial extension of their previously declared range.
The old version of Iran’s Shahab-3 missile had a range of 810 miles, capable of reaching Israel and various U.S. military bases in the Middle East.
In August, Iran tested a new version of the Shahab-3, and Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said the country was trying to improve the range and accuracy of the missile in response to efforts by Israel to upgrade its missile system.
Several days ago, Iran said it had added a “strategic missile” to its arsenal after a successful test.
“Today we have the power to fire missiles to a range of 2,000 kilometers” — about 1,250 miles, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani said Tuesday, according to a report by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
“Experts know that a country that possesses this can obtain all subsequent stages” in missile production, Rafsanjani told staff at the Aerospace Research Institute in Tehran.
Rafsanjani, who still wields great power in Iran, did not elaborate, but appeared to be saying that Iran can make missiles of any range it requires.
“Today, we possess the basic technology to produce and launch satellites,” Rafsanjani added. In January, Iran forecast it would put a satellite into orbit with a locally made rocket within 18 months.
Israel and the United States have developed the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system. The Arrow is one of the few systems capable of intercepting and destroying missiles at high altitudes. Its development followed the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles that struck Israel.
Arrow was developed by Israel Aircraft Industries and Boeing Co. at a cost of more than $1 billion.
The Shahab, which means shooting star in Farsi, is Iran’s longest-range ballistic missile. The country launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo.
Rafsanjani said the Iranian missile program grew out of the 1980-88 war.
“We started thinking of producing missiles when we were attacked by missiles,” he said. During the war, Iraq, then ruled by Saddam Hussein, fired missiles that landed in Tehran, but Iran was unable to retaliate.
Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.