Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani announced here Tuesday that Iran has now missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers, saying there are 'next stages' to the capability. "Today, we have the capability of launching missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers and those familiar with this type of technology know that whoever has this capability can proceed to the subsequent stages," he said at a conference on `Space and National Security`.
Iran seems to have learnt a hard lesson from years of destructive war between 1980 and 1988, when most of its major cities, including Tehran, came under repeated attack of Iraqi Scud missiles by Saddam`s regime.
"When we came under missile attacks we thought of building our own missiles and we started from scratch," Rafsanjani, who is the head of the arbitrative Expediency Council, said. "We have today the ballistic technology and if our hands had not been tied and obstacles had not been put on the way of our progress, we would have been even more advanced," he added.
The announcement comes days after Iran`s revolutionary guards said last month that they were to test fire a `strategic missile`. Iran is fresh from the successful test of an upgraded version of its shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile last month. Rafsanjani said Iran is also on brink of entering the club of the world countries with the capacity to manufacture and launch satellites. "The Islamic Republic of Iran, thanks to its specialized forces, is on the brink of entering the club of those countries with independent satellite technology. We must plan for a deep-rooted and enduring movement in this field in Iran," he said.
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said at the conference that Iran was pursuing the program for satellite launchers. He said last month that `since having an effective deterrent policy does not halt at a certain point, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues upgrading its defensive capability`. "Being powerful does not necessarily means war-mongering, neither do the roads of peace lead to concession," Shamkhani added.
Shamkhani said Iran has now acquired an `effective deterrent power` to confront its enemies in the region. "Today by relying on our defense industry capabilities, we have been able to increase our deterrent capacity against the military expansion of regional enemies," he said.
Military experts have said the shahab-3 missile is capable of striking Israel or any other enemy target in the region. The test came as Israel`s Arrow missile defense system, designed to counter threats such as the shahab-3, passed its first live test in July by downing a Scud missile off the coast of California. The Arrow-2 missile system, however, failed to destroy the detachable warhead of an incoming missile fired by a US Air Force aircraft in a test off the coast of California. News agencies said an advanced Israeli spy satellite meant to boost the Zionist state`s surveillance over Iran plunged into the sea after a malfunction on liftoff.
Reuters said the Israeli Defense Ministry had blamed a failure in the third stage of the rocket launch for the loss of the dlrs 50 million Ofek-6 satellite. Ofek-6 -- the latest in an Israeli line of spy satellites first put into orbit in 1988 -- was destroyed when it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, the news agency said. Reuters quoted Ephrain Sneh, head of the parliamentary defense subcommittee as saying that `the damage in terms of intelligence, financing, and prestige caused by the botched launch are unacceptable`.
The crash is seen a major setback to Israel`s attempts to upgrade methods of gathering intelligence on Iran. Iran has stressed that its missile program is defensive, while Iranian military commanders have warned of grave consequences if the Zionist state attacks the country. Tehran, however, has repudiated US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld`s allegations that Iran may be working to develop missiles capable of reaching the United States. Rumsfeld has named Iran among countries which were allegedly working to develop and deploy missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Tensions have been heightened by the US campaign to organize international pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program, which Tehran says is strictly peaceful. Iran says the program is in accordance with the country`s bid to produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 20 years, when the country`s oil and gas reserves become overstretched. The United States, however, claims that Tehran`s nuclear program is a prelude to building an atomic bomb.