September 18, 2004

Iran to test fire strategic missile

ZANJAN (IRNA) -- Iran's revolutionary guards were to test fire a 'strategic missile' Saturday following the launch of new surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles Friday, a senior IRGC commander said.

The new missile will be test fired during war games being held on a vast swath of land in the western provinces of Zanjan, Hamedan and Kurdestan, the spokesman of the "Ashura 5" maneuvers, Hossein Salami said.

"With the induction and launch of this missile, the scope of the Ashura 5 maneuvers will practically increase several folds," he said.

The IRGC will publish soon further information about the missile, Salami added.

The Ashura 5 war games are being held over an area, estimated at 60,000 square kilometers with the participation of 12 infantry and mechanized divisions.

The maneuvers are aimed at 'boosting the combat capability of the forces and bolstering their defensive morale as well as assessing and testing advanced equipment'.

Iran is fresh from the successful test of an upgraded version of its Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile last month. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said earlier this month that "given that an effective deterrent policy does not halt at a certain point, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues upgrading its defensive capability."

"Being powerful does not necessarily means war-mongering, neither do the roads of peace lead to concession," Shamkhani added.

Shamkhani said Iran has now acquired an 'effective deterrent power' to confront its enemies in the region.

"Today by relying on our defense industry capabilities, we have been able to increase our deterrent capacity against the military expansion of regional enemies," he said.

Military experts have said the Shahab-3 missile is capable of striking Israel or any other enemy target in the region.

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