Iran Says Its Missiles Can Now Reach 1,250 Miles Tue Oct 5, 2004 12:51 PM ET By Parisa Hafezi http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=6419615 TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has increased the range of its missiles to 1,250 miles, a senior official was quoted as saying Tuesday. The range would puts parts of Europe within reach for the first time. Military experts had earlier put Iran's missile range at 810 miles, which would allow it to strike anywhere in Israel. "Now we have the power to launch a missile with a 2,000 km (1,250 mile) range," the news agency IRNA quoted influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying. "Iran is determined to improve its military capabilities." "If the Americans attack Iran, the world will change ... they will not dare to make such a mistake," Rafsanjani was quoted as saying in a speech at an exhibition on Space and Stable National Security. Washington has accused Tehran of secretly developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed only at generating electricity. It says its missiles are for defensive purposes and would be used to counter a possible Israeli or U.S. strike against its nuclear facilities. In recent months, Iranian officials have frequently trumpeted their ability to strike back at any aggressor, and in August they announced they had successfully tested an upgraded version of the medium-range Shahab-3 missile. Military experts say the unmodified Shahab-3 had a range of 810 miles. Shahab means meteor in Persian. While Iran has had Israel in its missile sights for some time, Israeli officials said the longer 1,250 mile range was more significant for Europe than for Israel. "We are well prepared to defend the state of Israel ... The Iranians will have to think twice before using these kinds of weapons," a senior Israeli government said. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said last month that a new "strategic missile" had recently been delivered to the armed forces, but did not give its range. Israel has long accused Iran of working on a long-range missile, the Shahab-4, which would be able to reach Europe. Iran denies any plans to build a Shahab-4 missile. Tehran recently announced plans to launch its own satellite into space next year. Military experts say a satellite launch rocket could easily be adapted for military purposes. "We are very happy that our defense ministry ... will take us to the stage that we are able to use independent satellite technology in the fields of building, launching, positioning and receiving," Rafsanjani said. ------------- Iran Missiles Pose Grave Threat: US From correspondents in Washington 06 Oct 04 http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,10987698%255E1702,00.html THE US said today that Iran's missile program is a serious threat to the Middle East and US interests which is compounded significantly by its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. The US State Department, speaking after Iran declared it had ballistic missiles with a range of 2000km and could produce ones with a greater range, said Washington would continue to work with other nations to address the concerns. "The United States has had and continues to have serious concerns about Iran's missile programs," deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters. "We view Iran's efforts to further develop its missile capabilities as a threat to the region and to the United States' interests and all the more so in light of its ongoing nuclear program," he said, repeating US allegations that Iran is actively seeking atomic weaponry. Tehran has denied the US charges on nuclear weapons but earlier today, former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told a conference on "Space and National Security" that Iran now had "the power to send our missiles up to 2000 kilometres". As quoted by Iran's official news agency IRNA, Mr Rafsanjani confined his remarks to the possibilities such missiles would bring to launching a satellite but the United States and its main Middle East ally Israel are deeply concerned by their military implications. The former president now heads the Expediency Council, Iran's top political arbitration body, and his comments were expected to add to increasing international concerns over the country's weapons capabilities. Mr Ereli declined to comment specifically on the announcement and whether the United States placed credence in it, but said it was well known that Iran has been in the late stages of developing a medium-range ballistic missile and was working on a longer range system. "These kinds of long-range missiles ... have been an active area of Iranian weapons development for some time," he said. "It has been a concern of ours for some time and international cooperation with like-minded countries is important to take steps to address these efforts and that's where we're focusing our efforts," Mr Ereli said. On August 11, Iran tested an upgraded version of its Shahab-3 missile. Previous figures had put the missile's range at between 1300 and 1700 kilometres, already bringing arch enemy Israel and US bases in the region well within range. After the latest test, Israeli news reports put the range of the new Shahab-3 - believed to be based on a North Korean design - at 2000 kilometres. During a military parade last month, Iran showed off its array of ballistic missiles draped in banners vowing to "crush America" and "wipe Israel off the map". Iran insists the Shahab-3 is simply a deterrent, while Israel charges that the Islamic state could have a nuclear warhead by 2007. Israeli alarm has led to speculation that Israel - currently believed to be the only nuclear-armed nation in the Middle East - may launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.