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Iran Tests Missile Capable of Hitting Israel - 2003-07-07


Iran says it has conducted a final test on a medium-range surface-to-surface missile It's range makes it capable of reaching Israel.

Iran says it conducted a "delivery test" of its Shahab 3 ballistic missile, which can strike up to 1,300 kilometers, bringing Israel within its range.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that the final test of the missile took place a few weeks ago.

The announcement follows an Israeli newspaper report last week that Iran had conducted such a test. It also was made days before the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, is to visit Tehran.

One expert on Iran, Dr. Pakinam El-Sharqawi, says the announcement of the missile test is in line with that country's policy of deterrence.

"They always keep saying that we are developing and making more and more sophisticated missiles, and it is a kind of self-defense that is one of their own methods of self-defense in the region," she said.

Dr. Sharqawi, a professor of political science at Cairo University, says that by flexing its muscles now, Iran is sending a message to countries that it considers increasingly aggressive, including the United States. She says she does not expect the missile test to interfere with Mr. ElBaradei's Tehran visit to seek clarification of Iran's nuclear program.

The United States has accused Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge and maintains that its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA has urged Iran to ratify and implement an additional protocol to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, that would allow surprise inspections of its nuclear sites.

Tehran, under increasing international pressure to allow more inspections, has said it is ready to negotiate with Mr. ElBaradei.

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