Iran test fires latest version of its shihab-3 ballistic missile
Iran recently flight-tested an upgraded version of its Shihab-3 ballistic missile, which is capable of striking Israel, U.S. bases in the Middle East and parts of Europe.
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani announced the test, saying: "We tested the range, the destructive capacity, the guidance system and its capacity to hit a defined target."
While Shamkhani declined to say exactly how far the upgraded missile can fly, the range of the Shihab-3, a modified version of the North Korean Nodong missile enhanced with the input of Russian scientists, is believed to be more than 1,200 miles.
The extended range of the Shihab would enable Iran to fire the missile into Israel from deep within its territory, making it much harder for the weapon to be targeted. Other improvements include a better guidance system, which increases the Shihab-3's accuracy, as well as an increased flying velocity that makes it harder for anti-ballistic missile defenses like Israel's Arrow to intercept the Shihab.
The Shihab-3 is a powerful weapon capable of carrying a very heavy payload, such as a nuclear warhead.
Advancements in Iran's missiles have continued apace with a nuclear program that has been carried out in secret for nearly two decades and has included efforts to enrich uranium, a key step in developing atomic weapons.
During a military parade in September, Shihab-3 missiles were displayed draped in banners reading "We Will Crush America Under Our Feet" and "Wipe Israel Off the Map."
Meanwhile, Iran has also announced its intention to launch its first spy satellite in March or April of 2005. Tehran is reportedly developing three satellites, two of which are small and are expected to be launched mainly as a test. The third would carry a telescopic camera making it possible for the Islamic republic to begin carrying out espionage from space.