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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Test Fires Second Round of Missiles

By Sonja Pace
10 July 2008

Iran has fired another round of long-range missiles, the second such test in the past two days. The latest test firing came just hours after a warning from the United States about such missile launches. VOA's Sonja Pace has details from London.

Iran tested yet more missiles overnight. Iranian state television showed pictures of missiles streaking through the night sky. Iranian media said the test launch included medium and long-range missiles and torpedoes. Reports said the weapons were fired from ships in the Persian Gulf and from on the ground.

This was the second such test within two days. On Wednesday Iran reported firing nine test missiles, including the long-range Shahab-3, which it says has a range of 2,000 kilometers and could reach Israel and other U.S. allies in the Middle East and South Asia.

Speaking during a visit to Tbilisi, Georgia U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran that the United States will defend itself and its allies.

"We will defend American interests and we will defend the interests of our allies," she said. "In the Gulf area, the United States has enhanced its security capacity, its security presence and we are working closely with all of our allies to make certain that they are capable of defending themselves and we take very, very strongly our obligation to help our allies defend themselves and no one should be confused about that."

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards says the missile tests show Tehran's strength against its "enemies." Iran has repeatedly said it is prepared to guard against or retaliate harshly to attacks it says Israel and the United States are planning against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Israel and the United States say no specific plans are in the works, although both countries say all options remain on the table to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran's missile tests come after Israel held military exercises last month that were widely seen as a practice run for a future attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Defense analyst Mark Fitzpatrick of London's International Institute for Strategic Studies tells VOA the missile tests are saber rattling.

"Israel had conducted a drill that obviously was to perfect a bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear establishment and made that public," he noted. "Iran wants to make something public in return to demonstrate to the outside world, but just as importantly to its own people that it has capabilities."

Fitzpatrick says Iran's missiles are not as accurate or powerful as Tehran would like the world to believe. He also says pictures of Wednesday's missile launch had been manipulated to hide the fact that one of the missiles did not fire properly.

Still, Fitzpatrick says the international community should be concerned about if and when Iran does achieve nuclear weapons capability to use on those missiles.

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