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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran starts production of air-defense systems

RIA Novosti

21:0804/05/2010 MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti) - Iran on Tuesday launched production of an indigenous short-range air-defense artillery system, codenamed Mesbah, the Defense Ministry said.

"The Mesbah (Lantern) 1 air-defense system is designed to counter air attacks, different types of airplanes, cruise missiles, helicopters and other air threats at low altitudes," Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying.

He said the new system features "high destruction power" with capacity to fire up to 4,000 rounds per minute, "rapid reaction against threats," and high accuracy and precision.

He added that the Mesbah 1 was also capable of tracking and intercepting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but was especially effective against low-flying cruise missiles.

Vahidi said the system would go into service "in the near future."

He added that the Defense Ministry was currently working on a variety of short-range, mid-range and long-range air-defense systems.

According to Fars, Tehran launched an arms development program in the 1980s to "compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo," producing its own tanks, armored vehicles, missiles, fighter jets and other high-tech weapons.

Iran signed a deal with Russia in December 2005 for S-300 missile systems, but the advanced weapons have not been delivered. Tehran accuses Moscow of succumbing to Western pressure not to fulfill the contract, which would significantly improve the country's air defenses and seriously hinder any potential strike against its nuclear installations.

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