Nico Hines – Times Online May 20, 2009
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed today that Iran has successfully test fired a new medium-range missile capable of striking as far as Israel or southern Europe.
The Iranian President told a cheering crowd that the military had launched a surface-to-surface missile called Sejil-2 which has a range of about 1,200 miles.
“I was told that the missile is able to go beyond the atmosphere then come back and hit its target. It works on solid fuel,” Mr Ahamdinejad said during a speech in Semnan, northern Iran.
“The defence minister told me today that we launched a Sejil-2 missile, which is a two-stage missile and it has reached the intended target.”
The weapon is an updated version of the Sejil missile, which Iran said it had successfully tested late last year.
The announcement comes two days after President Obama said he would seek deeper international sanctions against Iran if it shunned American attempts to open talks on its controversial nuclear programme.
In the past, Iran has often boasted of developing new weapons systems, only to be met with scepticism from Western defence analysts.
Benjamin Netayahu, the new Israeli Prime Minister, has said that Iran’s missile technology combined with its nuclear programme pose the greatest threat the Jewish state has faced since its creation in 1948.
Iran insists that its nuclear programme is aimed solely at producing electricity for a growing population once its huge reserves of fossil fuels run out. Israel and other states suspect that it is a cover for attempts to create a nuclear weapon.
The UN Security Council has imposed three packages of sanctions against Iran after it ignored successive warnings to suspend uranium enrichment.
But Mr Ahmadinejad insisted once again today that Iran would not give in to any pressure over its nuclear programme. “They (Western governments) said if you don’t stop, we will adopt (sanctions) resolutions... They thought we would retreat but that will not happen,” he said. “I told them you can adopt 100 sets of sanctions, but nothing will change.”
Sejil, the name of the new missile, is a reference to the stones hurled by holy birds sent to defeat an army of elephants in the Koran.
Russia Today video report
Last updated 21/05/2009