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  Iran tests fires longer range missile

AP | November 2, 2006
By NASSER KARIMI

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards test-fired dozen of missiles, including the long-range Shahab-3, during the first hours of new military maneuvers, Iranian state-run television said Thursday.

The report said several kinds of short-range missiles were also fired in a central desert area of Iran during the maneuvers, which came two days after U.S.-led warships finished an exercise in the Gulf that Tehran described as "adventurist."

"We want to show our deterrent and defensive power to trans-regional enemies, and we hope they will understand the message of the maneuvers," said the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, in an apparent reference to the US and other western powers.

The general said the 10-day maneuvers, named "Great Prophet," would take place in the Gulf, the Sea of Oman and several provinces of the country. He did not specify how many troops were involved.

The Shahab-3 missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and is believed to have a range of more than 1,242 miles. It can reach Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East.

The state-run TV said that among the other weapons tested during the maneuvers was the Shahab-2, which Iran says has a cluster warhead that can send 1,400 bomblets at the same time. Solid-fuel Zalzal missiles also were launched, as were guided missiles as well as Scud-B, Zolfaghar-73 and Z-3, it said.

The maneuvers came as the U.N. Security Council considered sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is purely geared at civilian use but that the US and other western powers fear could hide research on an atomic bomb.

Iran has said that the U.S.-led six-nation drills this week in the region would not improve security in the Gulf waters, through which about 20 percent of the world's oil passes. It also called on Gulf nations to set up their own regional security arrangements.

The U.S.-led maneuvers focused on surveillance, with warships tracking a ship suspected of carrying components of illegal weapons. The nations that took part were Australia, Bahrain, Britain, France, Italy and the United States.

Iran regularly holds large maneuvers, often using them to test weapons developed by its arms industry.

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