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Updated: September 29, 2009 03:27 IST

Iran tests long-range missiles

Atul Aneja
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In this photo released by the Iranian semi-official Fars News Agency, Revolutionary Guard's Tondar missile is launched in a drill near the city of Qom 130 km south of the capital Tehranon September 27, 2009.
AP In this photo released by the Iranian semi-official Fars News Agency, Revolutionary Guard's Tondar missile is launched in a drill near the city of Qom 130 km south of the capital Tehranon September 27, 2009.

As the countdown for Thursday's talks with the global powers begins, Iran has fired long-range missiles including a solid fuelled weapon which can target several destinations in the region.

"An improved version of Shahab-3 and the two-stage Sajjil, powered by solid fuel, were fired," Hossein Salami the Air Force commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was quoted as saying by the state-owned Arabic language Al-Alam television channel.

These missiles were tested on Monday during Iran's Great Prophet IV military exercises. They have sufficient range to target Israel, bases of the United States in the Gulf, as well as parts of southern Europe.

Analysts point out that the firing of the Sajjil rocket is especially significant. Like the Shahab-3, Sajjil rockets have a range of around 2,000 km. However, Sajjil missiles are powered by an easier-to-handle solid fuel, which makes them more suitable as battlefield weapons.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted General Salami as saying that Iran had developed the know-how to fire its missiles from mobile launchers. These vehicle-mounted missiles, because of their higher manoeuvrability can better survive hostile air raids. Iranian media reports say the Shahab missiles equipped with multiple warheads, which can attack several targets simultaneously, have been tested during the current manoeuvres. These missiles can carry a payload of around 1,000 kg.

Iran's show of strength ahead of the October 1 talks with five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany are expected to increase tensions. They follow Iran's disclosure on September 21 that it is working on a new uranium enrichment site drawing an angry response from the West.

On Sunday, Iran's Parliament Speaker, Ali Larijani said that Western powers were seeking to draw psychological advantage ahead of Thursday's talks.

Amid growing tensions, Iran's neighbour, Iraq, has said it would not allow foreign powers to use Iraqi air space to attack Iran

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