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Iran says upgrades Shahab-3 missile - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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31/5/2005

TEHRAN,(Reuters) – Iran said on Tuesday it had upgraded its Shahab-3 missile, already capable of hitting Israel, with solid fuel which could increase its range and accuracy.

Amid criticism from Washington over its nuclear programme, Tehran said last year it had begun a production line of Shahab-3 medium-range missiles, thought by military experts to have a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles).

Tehran denies U.S. accusations it is seeking an atomic weapon and says it would only use the Shahab-3 in self-defence.

&#34We tested the first engine of a two-engine missile successfully,&#34 Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani told state television on Tuesday.

&#34Solid fuel not only has greater longevity but also increases the accuracy of the missile,&#34 he added.

Iran”s defence ministry said Shamkhani was referring to an upgraded Shahab-3.

Military experts say using a two-stage weapon would be a significant step forward. To cover a greater range, missiles can use a solid-fuel section to lift off. This section will then drop away and the missile will cruise on liquid fuel.

&#34The Shahab-3 tested up to now was a single stage liquid-propelled missile,&#34 said Duncan Lennox, editor of Jane”s &#34Strategic Weapons Systems&#34.

&#34Adding a solid-fuel stage would allow it to put a satellite into orbit,&#34 he added.

Iran has said it plans to launch a satellite this year.

Lennox cautioned that it was not yet clear whether Iran had developed a full double phase rocket or had just strapped extra boosters onto the side of the existing weapon.

When asked whether solid fuel could significantly improve Shahab-3”s range, Lennox replied: &#34That all depends on how they have done it&#34.

He said Iran”s move could either signal Iran could send a warhead further, or was simply flaunting its skills with solid-fuel technology.

Shahab is the Persian word for meteor. Based on the North Korean Nodong-1 and modified with Russian technology, the Shahab-3 was first deployed to Iran”s Revolutionary Guard in July 2003.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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