Iran test-fires more missiles in Persian Gulf
Published 1:03 pm Thursday, July 10, 2008
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran test-fired more long-range missiles overnight in a second round of exercises meant to show that the country can defend itself against any attack by the U.S. or Israel, state television reported Thursday.
The weapons have “special capabilities” and included missiles launched from naval ships in the Persian Gulf, along with torpedoes and surface-to-surface missiles, the broadcast said. It did not elaborate.
A brief video clip showed two missiles being fired simultaneously in the darkness trailed by red plumes of fire and smoke.
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The report came hours after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran that Washington will not back down in the face of threats against Israel.
“We are sending a message to Iran that we will defend American interests and the interests of our allies,” Rice said Thursday in Georgia at the close of a three-day Eastern European trip.
The director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, said Iran’s missile tests have emphasized the urgency of going ahead with plans to place a proposed U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe.
Among the missiles Iran said it tested Wednesday was a new version of the Shahab-3, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead.
That would put Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan all within striking distance.
Wednesday’s missile tests were conducted at the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which up to 40 percent of the world’s oil passes. Iran has threatened to shut down traffic in the strait if attacked.
Another Iranian state channel, Press TV, quoted a senior Republican Guard commander Thursday as saying Iran would maintain security in the Strait of Hormuz and the larger Gulf.
Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, chief of the Guards’ joint staff, called the missile tests a “defensive measure against invasions,” according to the channel’s Web site.
Iran will not jeopardize the interests of neighboring countries, he said without elaborating.
Even as Hejazi tried to reassure Iran’s neighbors, Tehran’s standoff with the West took a new toll when French energy giant Total SA said it is too risky to invest in Iran for now. The decision raised questions about the future of major western involvement in developing Iranian gas reserves.
“The conditions are not present for investing in Iran today,” said Total spokeswoman Lisa Wiler. “We hope that the political relations will improve so that we can invest.”
Total had been in discussions for developing a liquefied natural gas project linked to Iran’s South Pars gas field with Malaysia’s Petronas.
But Total and oil majors have been under increasing political pressure from the United States and its allies over their activities in Iran amid mounting tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. and other countries fear that program is aimed at building nuclear weapons but Tehran insists is for producing energy.
Israel showed off its latest spy plane Thursday in what defense officials said was a display of strength in response to Iranian war games and missile tests.
“It has the most sophisticated early warning and intelligence devices to date and is capable of reaching all destinations required by the air force,” said Assaf Dargan, a spokesman for Israel Aerospace Industries.