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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Timing of Iranian Missile Test Questioned

Sarah Williams | Washington 17 December 2009

Iran launched a medium-range missile Wednesday, sparking immediate criticism from international observers.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the launch was "not productive."

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the test was "provocative," while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it could encourage additional sanctions against Tehran.

The French Foreign Ministry said the missile launch raised further concerns about Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran has said is for peaceful purposes.

Alex Vatanka, managing editor of the defense publication Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst, says Iran is feeling increasing pressure from the West so it flexed its military muscles.

"It feels that the rhetoric in the United States and her European allies is changing more in favor of harsher sanctions and some talk about punitive military strikes against some of those Iranian nuclear sites as a punishment for Iran not complying with the U.N. Security Council resolutions."

The Sejil 2 missile, with a range of about 2,000 kilometers, is able to strike Israel and U.S. military bases in southeastern Europe.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the missile is a "strong deterrent" against a possible foreign attack.

"When we talk about Iran being able to hit Israel and U.S. bases, Iran has been able to do that for years," said Vatanka. "This missile test is about a political message to the West."

Representatives of the United States, Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany are scheduled to hold a conference call next week to discuss a possible course of action against Iran because of its nuclear program.

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