The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Europe in Iran missile range

Tehran, Oct. 5 (Reuters): Iran has increased the range of its missiles to 2,000 km, a senior official was quoted as saying today.

The range would put parts of Europe within reach for the first time. Military experts had earlier put Iran's missile range at 1,300 km, which would allow it to strike anywhere in Israel.

'Now we have the power to launch a missile with a 2,000 km range,' the news agency IRNA quoted influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying. 'Iran is determined to improve its military capabilities.'

'If the Americans attack Iran, the world will change ... they will not dare to make such a mistake,' Rafsanjani was quoted as saying in a speech at an exhibition on Space and Stable National Security. Washington has accused Tehran of secretly developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is aimed only at generating electricity. It says its missiles are for defensive purposes and would be used to counter a possible Israeli or US strike against its nuclear facilities. Iranian officials have frequently trumpeted their ability to strike back at any aggressor, and in August they announced they had successfully tested an upgraded version of the medium-range Shahab-3 missile.

Military experts say the unmodified Shahab-3 had a range of 1,300 km. Shahab means meteor in Persian.

While Iran has had Israel in its missile sights for some time, Israeli officials said the longer 2,000 km range was more significant for Europe than for Israel.

'We are well prepared to defend the state of Israel ... The Iranians will have to think twice before using these kinds of weapons,' a senior Israeli government said. Defence minister Ali Shamkhani said last month that a new 'strategic missile' had recently been delivered to the armed forces, but did not give its range.

Israel has long accused Iran of working on a long-range missile, the Shahab-4, which would be able to reach Europe. Iran denies any plans to build a Shahab-4 missile.

Tehran recently announced plans to launch its own satellite into space next year. Military experts say a satellite launch rocket could easily be adapted for military purposes.

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