Iran produces new missile capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases

Iran said Tuesday it has manufactured a new missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the Mideast, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the Ashoura missile was produced by factories affiliated with the ministry, according to IRNA. He did not say whether Iran has test fired the missile or has plans to do so.

Ashoura means “the tenth day” in Farsi, a sacred reference among Shiite Muslims to the martyrdom of the third imam.

Analysts believe much of Iran’s military production has benefited from assistance from Russia, China and other countries, but many of their weapons development claims have not been independently verified.

Iran launched an arms development program during its war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has reportedly produced its own jets, torpedoes, radar-avoiding missiles, tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Recent weapons development has been motivated by Iran’s standoff with the U.S. over its controversial nuclear program, which Washington claims is a cover for weapons development — a charge Tehran denies.

Iran is known to possess a medium-range ballistic missile known as the Shahab-3, which means “shooting star” in Farsi, with a range of at least 1,300 kilometers (800 miles). In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shahab-3 to 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), equal to the new missile announced Tuesday.

Najjar did not elaborate about the differences between the Ashoura missile and the Shahab-3 missile.

In September during a military parade, Iran introduced the Ghadr missile, which has a range of 1,800 kilometers (1,119 miles).

Experts also believe Iran is developing the Shahab-4 missile, thought to have a range between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers (1,200-1,900 miles), that would enable it to hit much of Europe

Website Addendum – November 27, 2007

In addition to being able to hit targets in Israel and US forces in the Gulf, the above article omits to mention that the Ashoura is also capable of reaching parts of eastern and southern Europe.

At the same news confence Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar also announced that a new Iranian-built submarine would be delivered to the navy on Wednesday.

Najjar added that a destroyer and a missile escort ship will be introduced in the near future, to boost Iran’s presence in the Gulf.

The minister did not give further details about the submarine. But navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari said on Saturday that Iran’s navy would take delivery of a new submarine this week ahead of military maneuvers planned for February in the Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway. Ed