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Iran to test motor for new space rocket
TEHRAN, Feb 7 (AFP) - Iran announced on Sunday that it is to test the
motor for a new space rocket, just six months after the successful launch
of a medium-range missile sparked concern in the United States and key
regional ally Israel.
The test will be carried out by the armed forces on Tuesday, just two
days before 20th anniversary of the Islamic revolution which overthrew
the pro-Western shah, Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani told a news conference
But he swiftly added that the rocket, dubbed the Shahab-4, "has
no military use and will be not be produced on a large scale."
Last July Iran successfully launched the Shahab-3 missile, with a range
of 1,300 kilometres (800 miles), prompting acute fears in the United States
and its main regional ally Israel which lies within the missile's range.
"With the Shahab-3 we attained our objectives and have no need
to manufacture missiles of similar range," Admiral Shamkhani insisted.
"We have the right to have our own satellite and launcher,"
he said, adding that Iran had achieved its "the deterrent capability
it wanted with the Shahab-3 missile and had no need for new missile launchers
of greater range."
Shamkhani said that the Shahab-3, which is currently on display at an
anniversary exhibition of military equipment at the capital's international
fair ground, had given Iran a "real deterrent punch."
"Thanks to this deterrent punch, Israeli leaders have sharply reduced
their threats and hostile language against Iran," he said.
But Shamkhani went out of his way to stress that the missile was not
meant as a deterrent against any other country in the region.
"Our missiles are no threat to any Islamic country -- we made quite
clear that the Shahab-3 would never be used against Moslem territory,"
The defence minister said that one test firing of the Shahab-4 rocket
motor had already been carried out, but said it had not been a success
because of a "mechanical problem."
He insisted that the missiles had been developed entirely with Iranian
technology, rejecting persistent reports that the programme was dependent
on North Korean technology.
He did not specify the nature of the satellite Iran intended to put
into space although late last month parliament approved a budget appropriation
for the launch of telecommunications satellites.
MPs authorised up to 300 million dollars of foreign loans during the
coming financial year starting March 21 to pay for the purchase and launch
of a telecommunications satellite.
The borrowing was approved even though most other items of government
expenditure were sharply cut as part of an austerity package intended to
tackle a mounting economic crisis here sparked by a sharp fall in the price
of Iran's main export oil.
Throughout the past decade, Iran has been trying to develop its own
Work started during the 1990s on a satellite dubbed the Zohreh, but
technical and financial problems prevented completion of the project.
Israel has expressed great concern over Iran's missile and rocket programme
and with US help is currently developing the Arrow-2 anti-missile missile
to counter the perceived threat.
Both French defence officials and independent analysts had expressed
doubt about the progress of Iran's missile programme, questioning whether
the Shahab-3 missile was really yet fully operational.