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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tests show Iran's missiles unable to reach U.S. - Russia's NATO envoy

RIA Novosti

03:31 29/09/2009 MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's recent missile launches have demonstrated that the missiles pose no threat to the U.S., Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin has said.

Russia has consistently opposed the plans of the Bush administration to deploy missile shield elements in Central Europe to defend against potential strikes from Iran. Iran's national media said on Monday the country had test launched the longest-range missile in its arsenal, capable of striking Israel and parts of Europe.

"The rockets theoretically are able to hit targets in the Middle East. They are unable to reach the U.S.," Rogozin said in an interview with the Vesti TV channel, adding that Iran has no technological facilities to build such missiles.

The U.S. earlier described the missile launches "provocative" and called on the Islamic Republic to return to the negotiating table.

The Russian diplomat also said that if the U.S. is concerned about Iran's missile program, "they should deploy their missile defense in the south, in the Mediterranean Sea."

The launches come just days after the Islamic Republic announced it was building a second Uranium-enrichment facility further aggravating international tensions. Russia and U.S. have called on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to reach a settlement on the country's nuclear program prior to an upcoming October 1 Iran Six meeting.

Leonid Bolshov, chief of Russia's Nuclear Safety Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RIA Novosti that the development of uranium enrichment facilities as a rule has a direct link to a nuclear weapons program.

"A limited number of enrichment facilities is required to enrich uranium to 2-4% [for the use in nuclear power plants]. Many more facilities are required to enrich uranium for the use in nuclear weapons. That is why statements about peaceful nuclear program, accompanied by the increase in enrichment facilities, always cause concern," he said.

The facility's location and the number of centrifuges planned for installation there have not been reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency requested specific information and an immediate inspection of the facility to make sure it was for civilian needs. Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the country's Atomic Energy Organization, later said that Tehran and IAEA would soon agree on the date of the inspection.

Iran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment that could be used both for electricity generation and weapons production. The U.S., the U.K. and France condemned Iran's nuclear program and said more sanctions could be imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Iran's underground uranium enrichment center in Natanz, subject to UN inspections, has over 8,300 centrifuges and is expanding rapidly. Iranian authorities have repeatedly said the country needs 50,000 centrifuges to supply its future nuclear power plants with fuel.

Iran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment that could be used both for electricity generation and weapons production.

Iran's underground uranium enrichment center in Natanz, subject to UN inspections, has over 8,300 centrifuges and is expanding rapidly. Iranian authorities have repeatedly said the country needs 50,000 centrifuges to supply its future nuclear power plants with fuel.



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