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Iran says advanced missile test a success

IRAN'S President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that a new advanced missile with a range of about 1,200 miles, far enough to strike Israel, southeastern Europe and United States bases in the Middle East, had been test-fired successfully.

The announcement will not reassure the US government, coming just two days after US President Barack Obama declared a readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against Iran if it shunned US attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program.

"Defense Minister (Mostafa Mohammad Najjar) has informed me that the Sajjil-2 missile, which has very advanced technology, was launched from Semnan and it landed precisely on the target," state radio quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

The president spoke during a visit to Semnan, 125 miles east of the capital Tehran, where Iran's space program is based.

Ahmadinejad is running for re-election in a June 12 vote.

Most Western analysts believe Iran does not yet have the technology to produce nuclear weapons, including warheads for long-range missiles.

A group of US and Russian scientists said in a report issued on Tuesday that Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead could be made in another five years after that.

The study, which was published by the nonpartisan East-West Institute, also said that Iran was making advances in rocket technology and could develop a ballistic missile capable of firing a 2,200-pound nuclear warhead up to 1,200 miles "in perhaps six to eight years."

Iran says its missile program is merely for defense and its space program is for scientific and surveillance purposes.

The country also says its nuclear program is for civilian energy uses only.


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