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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Iran warns foes with new missiles, satellites

* Revolutionary Guards’ chief says new mass-produced supersonic missile having 300kms range is undetectable by enemies

TEHRAN: Iran showed off new missile and satellite technology on Monday, and told its enemies it had ‘complete domination’ of the entrance to the oil-rich Gulf.

As part of Iran’s annual revolution celebrations, a time traditionally marked by new technological and military advances, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled locally-made satellites while a senior commander showed off mass produced missiles.

“We should reach a point where we will be able to provide our knowledge and technology in the aerospace field to other countries,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech, unveiling the satellites he said were for scientific purposes, and showing film of a satellite-carrier rocket.

The chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the new mass-produced missile - named ‘Persian Gulf’ - had a range of 300 kilometres. It would be able to target enemies at sea, he said. “Its speed is three times greater than the speed of sound and it cannot be traced and deactivated by enemies,” official news agency IRNA quoted Jafari as saying. “As the enemy’s threats will likely come from the sea, air and by missiles, the Guards have been equipped with capabilities to neutralise the enemy’s advanced technology,” he said.

Footage on state television showed the missile being fired atop a mobile launcher from a desert terrain. The announcement of the new missile comes as Iran holds celebrations to mark the 32nd anniversary of its Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.

Iran uses the run-up to the February 11 anniversary to tout its scientific and technological achievements. In a separate function, Iran unveiled four new home-built satellites and engines of a rocket.

Another Guards commander, Ali Fadavi reiterated Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil trade passes. “The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are under the complete domination of the Revolutionary Guards ... and it would be blocked in case of a threat,” he said, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Iranian military officials regularly warn of blocking the Strait of Hormuz - the route through which 40 percent of world’s oil supply by sea passes - in case Iran comes under attack. But analysts say Iran would be reluctant to take such a drastic step as it would cut off its own oil exports.

Although Iran is not engaged in any military conflict, it is on constant alert against possible attacks from the United States and Israel which have not ruled out possible pre-emptive strikes to stop Tehran getting nuclear weapons. Iran says it has no intention of making nuclear bombs and that its atomic programme, which is the subject of US, European and UN sanctions, is entirely peaceful.

In 2009, Iran launched a domestically-made satellite into orbit for the first time, a step that increased the West’s fear that the Islamic Republic is seeking to build a nuclear bomb and missile delivery systems. agencies

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