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Monday, August 21, 2006

Iran Tests Tactical Missile During War Games

Mon, 21 Aug 2006, 00:58

Tehran: Iran test-fired a short-range missile on Sunday during the second day of nationwide military exercises in a demonstration of its readiness to "respond to any threat," state television reported. The surface-to-surface missile, called Saegheh or lightning in Farsi, has a range of between 80 and 250 kilometers (50 and 155 miles).

"The upgraded Saegheh missiles have been tested today," Iranian Brigadier General Kiumars Heydari was quoted as saying.

"Surface-to-surface as well as surface-to-sea missiles built by domestic defence industries with considerable range, high precision and large production numbers, will enable us to prevent any type of threat."

The missile was test-fired from Kashan, 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of the capital Tehran as part of the massive war games which began Saturday with the aim of testing new weapons and tactics against a potential enemy.

Twelve army divisions along with air and naval forces and missile units are involved in the military operation, named "Zolfaghar Blow" after the two-point sword of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed.

The exercises, which began in the restive southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, will continue in 15 other provinces around Iran.

In April, the Islamic republic unveiled a wide range of weaponry such as multiple-head missiles, high-speed torpedoes and radar-evading anti-ship missiles during a week of exercises in the strategic Gulf waters to the south.

The latest operations come amid rising international tensions over Tehran's nuclear program, which the West fears is a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb.

Iran has two bodies of armed forces, the traditional army and the elite Revolutionary Guards, an ideological army, equipped with terrestrial, naval and air units. All are under the command of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The UN Security Council has given Iran until August 31 to halt enrichment and reprocessing activities or face possible sanctions.

But Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters Sunday that a freeze of the nuclear work was "not on the agenda".

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