(AP) TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Saturday it successfully tested a “strategic missile” and delivered it to its armed forces, state-run radio reported.
The report did not say whether the missile was the previously announced new version of the Shahab-3 rocket, which already was capable of reaching Israel and U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East, or was a new missile.
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani declined to give details about the missile for “security reasons,” but said Iran was “ready to confront all regional and extra-regional threats,” the report said.
Defense Ministry officials could not be reached for comment on the report.
“This strategic missile was successfully test fired during military exercises by the Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the armed forces,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying. The exercises were held Sept. 12-18.
The announcement came four days after Israel said it was buying about 5,000 U.S.-made smart bombs, including 500 one-ton bunker-busters that can penetrate 6-foot-thick concrete walls.
In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq (news – web sites)’s nuclear facility before the reactor could begin operating and the smart bombs are believed capable of destroying Iranian nuclear sites. Iran is suspected by the United States and others of developing nuclear arms and is under increasing international pressure to cease some atomic projects.
The maneuvers conducted by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards this month near the border with Iraq were described by top military officials as being designed to reinforce the country’s resolve to defend itself against “big powers.”
During the maneuvers, state-run radio said a “long-range missile” would be test fired, but there had not been any official confirmation of the test.
The military exercises came a few weeks after Iran said it had test fired a new version of the Shahab-3. Iran’s Defense Ministry didn’t give the missile’s new range, but Israeli sources speaking in Jerusalem later said it was more than 1,200 miles, or about 400 miles longer than its previous range.
The development of the Shahab, whose name means “shooting star” in Persian, has raised fears in Israel about possible attack by the Iranian government, which strongly opposes the Jewish state’s existence.
Earlier this month, Israel launched a spy satellite meant to monitor Iran but the Ofek-6 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after launch.