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 Iran Tests New Missile, Israel Within Range

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Damocles
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Join date : 2009-04-22
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PostSubject: Iran Tests New Missile, Israel Within Range   Wed May 20, 2009 12:08 pm

Iran Tests New Missile, Israel Within Range
By Thomas Erdbrink and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, May 20, 2009; 10:55 AM

SEMNAN, Iran, May 20 -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Wednesday that his country had successfully launched a medium-range missile, just two days after President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discussed the importance of halting Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The missile was test-fired in Semnan province, east of Tehran. Ahmadinejad visited the province Wednesday as part of a campaign tour in advance of national elections June 12.

The hard-line Iranian leader told a crowd of several thousand that the missile -- which according to previous descriptions by Iranian officials would be capable of striking Israel or U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf region -- was an important scientific achievement. But he also described the launch in belligerent terms as a blow to those trying to thwart Iran's nuclear program.

"In the nuclear case, we send them a message: Today the Islamic Republic of Iran is running the show," Ahmadinejad said in a speech at a soccer stadium that was broadcast live on Iranian television. "We say to the superpowers, who of you dare to threaten the Iranian nation? Raise your hand! But they all stand there with their hands behind their backs.

"Every center of power which wants to shoot a bullet, before it can put its finger on the trigger, we will cut its hands and send it to hell."

Ahmadinejad said the launch involved a two-stage Sejil-2 missile that works on solid fuel and successfully struck its intended target. He did not specify the missile's range. But Iran's defense minister said in November that the country had test-fired a new ground-to-ground missile that was named Sejil and had "a range of close to 2,000 kilometers," or about 1,200 miles. That range is similar to Iran's existing Shahab-3 missile, the Associated Press reported.

In his remarks Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said that "in the short future we will launch longer rockets with bigger reach from this province."

"God is the greatest scientist," Ahmadinejad said. "A country needs science in order to develop. It's the light of the path."

Iran's nuclear program was the top priority for Netanyahu when he visited Obama at the White House for the first time Monday. Although Iran's leaders say they are working to create nuclear power only for civilian use, Netanyahu and others believe the program is designed to produce nuclear weapons, which Israel's government views as an existential threat to the Jewish state.
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Israel reacted to the news of the launch by saying Europe and the United States should share Israel's goal of stopping Iran's missile program. "In terms of strategic importance, this new missile test doesn't change anything for us since the Iranians already tested a missile with a range of 1,500 kilometers, but it should worry the Europeans," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio. "If anybody had a doubt, it is clear the Iranians are playing with fire."

Ayalon said Israel believes Iran is also trying to develop a ballistic missile with a range of 6,250 miles, which could reach the coast of the United States.

Obama acknowledged Monday that there is "deepening concern" in the global community about Tehran's nuclear ambitions. But the White House is pushing Israel, which receives nearly $3 billion in annual military aid from the United States and has its own undeclared nuclear arsenal, to focus on better relations with its Arab neighbors as a way to step up international pressure on Iran.

Obama said Monday that he would wait until after Iran's presidential election to directly engage its leaders. Obama said he should know by the end of the year whether talks and international pressure are dissuading Iran's leadership from pursuing nuclear weapons.

After announcing the missile launch, Ahmadinejad denounced the sanctions that have been placed on Iran in an effort to put pressure on the country to halt weapons production.

"These are the hardest sanctions ever to be placed on a country. They can give us resolutions until their resolution-making machine breaks down," Ahmadinejad said.

"All want dialogue with Iran, and we prefer this. But it should be in the framework of justice and respect."

Wilgoren reported from Washington. Correspondent Howard Schneider contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/20/AR2009052000523.html?hpid=topnews
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PostSubject: Just what we need..........an arms race   Wed May 20, 2009 4:10 pm

They are not responding very nicely to the President's declaration. Obama wants to reduce America's power and global interests. I would expect Iran and others to exploit Obama's myopia. I think our country is headed in a very dangerous direction. We have got to get him out of the White house and the sooner the better!


Iran Says It Test-Fired New Missile Article | Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran test-fired a new advanced missile Wednesday with a range of about 1,200 miles, capable of reaching Israel and U.S. Mideast bases.

The announcement comes less than a month before Iran's presidential election and just two days after President Barack Obama declared a readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against Tehran if it did not respond positively by year-end to U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he addressed thousands of people in the northern town of Semnan.
Analysts said the launch was likely intended for domestic consumption ahead of the June 12 elections, rather than a message to the U.S., which has criticized Iran's past missile launches as stoking instability in the Middle East.

"But I don't think the Obama administration and other nations will look at this as a constructive sign," said Patrick Clawson, deputy director for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The solid-fuel Sajjil-2 surface-to-surface missile is a new version of the Sajjil missile, which Iran said it successfully tested late last year and has a similar range. Many analysts said the launch of the solid-fuel Sajjil was significant because such missiles are more accurate than liquid fuel missiles of similar range, such as Iran's Shahab-3.

"Defense Minister (Mostafa Mohammad Najjar) has informed me that the Sajjil-2 missile, which has very advanced technology, was launched from Semnan and it landed precisely on the target," state radio quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying. He spoke during a visit to the city of Semnan, 125 miles east of the capital Tehran, where Iran's space program is centered.

Sajjil means "baked clay." It is a reference to a story in the Quran, Islam's holy book, in which birds sent by God drive off an enemy army attacking the holy city of Mecca by pelting them with stones of baked clay.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is running for re-election and has been criticized by his opponents and others for antagonizing the U.S. and mismanaging the country's faltering economy. Iran said Wednesday that its constitutional watchdog has approved three prominent candidates to challenge Mr. Ahmadinejad, setting up a showdown between reformists and hard-liners.

Iran's nuclear and missile programs have alarmed Israel. The country's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, pressed Mr. Obama to step up pressure on Tehran when the two met in Washington on Monday. Israeli officials had no immediate comment on the Iranian missile launch.

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Mr. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel's elimination, and the Jewish state has not ruled out a military strike to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. The Israeli government has been skeptical of U.S. overtures to Iran, which have received a mixed response from Mr. Ahmadinejad.

In Washington, A U.S. government official confirmed there was an Iranian launch and said Washington was working to determine details such as the missile's range and trajectory. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said this morning that a nuclear-armed Iran is "going to spark an arms race'' in the Middle East. Without commenting directly on reports of the missile launch, Mrs. Clinton did refer to a host of threats to the United States that she said are "daunting.''

In an appearance before a Senate Appropriations panel, Mrs. Clinton reiterated that the Obama administration opposes Iran getting a nuclear weapons capability and that it is relying for now on diplomatic pressure to stop it.

She described a nuclear capability as an "extraordinary threat" and said that the U.S. goal is "to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program.''

Many Western experts have expressed skepticism about Iran's professed military achievements, saying the country provides no transparency to verify its claims. Most believe Iran does not yet have the technology to produce nuclear weapons, including warheads for long-range missiles.

The U.S. released an intelligence report about 18 months ago that said Iran abandoned a secret nuclear weapons program in 2003 under international pressure and has not restarted it.

Israel and several other countries have disputed the finding. But many in the West at least agree that Iran is seeking to develop the capability to develop weapons at some point. A group of U.S. and Russian scientists said in a report issued Tuesday that Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after that.

The study published by the nonpartisan EastWest Institute also said Iran is making advances in rocket technology and could develop a ballistic missile capable of firing a 2,200-pound nuclear warhead up to 1,200 miles "in perhaps six to eight years."

Iran says its missile program is merely for defense and its space program is for scientific and surveillance purposes. It maintains that its nuclear program is for civilian energy uses only.

After the testing of the Sajjil in November, a senior U.S. military official said Washington believed Iran was testing the first stage of what would be a two-stage rocket. Multiple stages allow long-range missiles to use less fuel.

Mr. Ahmadinejad touted the launch in the final weeks of a presidential campaign that could influence Iran's response to the U.S. outreach. Two of the three candidates approved by Iran's constitutional watchdog to run in the June election are reformists who favor improving ties with the West.

Hard-liners have used the Guardian Council in the past to block reformist candidates, but Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi were likely too high-profile to reject. The watchdog also approved a well known conservative candidate, Mohsen Rezaei, a former leader of Iraq's elite Revolutionary Guards who has joined his reformist competitors in criticizing Mr. Ahmadinejad for mismanaging Iran's economy.

The group rejected 471 other candidates who wanted to run, including illiterate peasants, a 12-year-old boy and 42 women, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Reformists, who believe they have a strong chance of defeating Mr. Ahmadinejad, have criticized the president for spending an inordinate amount of time and energy slamming the West. They say his behavior has isolated Iran and believe he should have focused on battling rising unemployment and inflation in the country.

Mr. Mousavi, a former prime minister who is seen as the leading challenger to Mr. Ahmadinejad, has said he would reshape Iran's policies and restore the country's dignity.

Copyright ©️ 2009 Associated Press

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124281391135938799.html
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dogman



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PostSubject: Re: Iran Tests New Missile, Israel Within Range   Thu May 21, 2009 3:06 am

It appears to be a generally accepted opinion that if Ahmadinejad remains in power after the June elections there will be some action by Israel. This missile launch likely solidified that prospect.

The question is where does the Obama Administration really stand regarding support for Israel? The Israeli people don't appear to believe he is their ally.
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