Iran has completed the first launch of its enhanced
Shihab-3 intermediate-range missile.
The Islamic republic termed the Shihab-3 launch a success. Officials
said the test took place on Wednesday and was a followup to an August missile
exercise, Middle East Newsline reported.
"A few minutes ago, Iran test-fired a more accurate version of the
Shihab-3 in the presence of observers," Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said
Shamkhani, speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting, said the test
was within the framework of the "Defensive Shield Exercise." He would not
disclose the range of the missile.
"We tested the range, the destructive capacity, the guidance system and
its capability to strike a defined target," Shamkhani was quoted by the
Iranian Student News Agency as saying. "We invited all those who had doubts,
there were no foreign observers. Some people had expressed doubts
over the success of our test so we carried out a new test."
On Aug. 11, Iran held a command and control exercise for the enhanced
Shihab-3, based on North Korea's No-Dong. Western intelligence sources said
the exercise tested the speed with which the Shihab could be prepared for
But the sources said the Shihab-3 test did not include full flight. They
said this sparked a debate within the U.S. intelligence community over the
success of the Iranian missile exercise.
Last month, Shamkhani said Iran introduced a "strategic missile" to its
military arsenal after a successful test. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard
Corps was said to have obtained its first Shihab-3 in July 2003.
In early October, Iran said its enhanced Shihab-3 missile provided
Teheran with the capability to launch a missile with a range of 2,000
kilometers. Officials have already deemed the Shihab-3 as capable of
reaching a range of 1,700 kilometers.
Western intelligence sources said Iran has also completed the
development of a warhead for the Shihab-3 that could carry a nuclear
payload. The sources said the warhead resembled the design of 1960s-era
intercontinental ballistic missiles.